Hot Detroit Rumor: Chrysler to Replace Dodge Challenger with a Barracuda!
January 8 2012
DETROIT — The 2012 North American International Auto Show has barely opened to the international press, and already the hottest rumor on the show floor is that Chrysler/Fiat is working on a replacement for the Dodge Challenger. It will be called Barracuda (though probably not Plymouth) and could be ready in time to launch for the original’s 50th anniversary, which would be a couple of months before the Ford Mustang’s 50th anniversary in April 2014 and the launch of that new car.
Two unimpeachable — though not inside — sources have told me about the Barracuda. The Dodge Challenger is the most literal interpretation of its ancestor. Because it uses the Dodge Charger/Chrysler 300 platform, it has the high front cowl of those two large sedans, and so its overall length is considerably longer than the 1970-74 Challenger, which already was the biggest car in its class. That Challenger shared its platform with the 1970-74 Barracuda, but with a stretched wheelbase.
The ’74 Challenger was followed by a Mitsubishi-sourced coupe because it needed to be more fuel efficient to get through mid-decade gas prices. There is no way to follow up the current Challenger without either changing everything but the sheetmetal, or fully redesigning it to make it look nothing like the ’70-’74/’08-current model. If Chrysler is going to redesign it, why not make it a radical departure?
A 2014 Barracuda would be much shorter, lighter and smaller overall than the current car, something we’re hoping to see from the 2015 Chevrolet Camaro. It would not use the new Charger/300′s LY platform, but would be on a shorter rear-wheel-drive platform, probably something closer to the Hyundai Genesis coupe.
What makes this scenario economically plausible is that such a platform also would serve Alfa Romeo well, with a new moderately priced RWD platform for a sports car and sports coupe. The question is whether the platform would package a V-8 for the Barracuda as well as a small, high-output and probably breathed-on turbo four for Alfa.
The Dodge Challenger launched in the 2008 model year, which means a five year cycle would end with MY13. A new Barracuda would launch in the 2014 model year. Ford plans to unveil an all-new Mustang in Spring of 2014 as a 2015 model. The original Mustang made its debut in April 1964 at the New York Auto Show as a ’65 model.
One source speculates that the new Barracuda would borrow a number of cues from the original, fastback Valiant model, all the way through the 1970-74 model, when the Barracuda converged with the Challenger and no longer used the Valiant platform. Will the new car be a fastback, like the 1964-66 model, or a notchback, like the ’70-’74, or both, like the ’67-’69?
We’d bet on the notchback, at least, because it would make it easy for Chrysler to do a convertible as well, a better way to compete with Mustang and Chevy Camaro.
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