BERKLEY, MI – FCA North America’s Dodge brand makes product news as the Woodward Dream Cruise, a Metro Detroit celebration of classic cars, approaches this weekend, but lovers of Detroit muscle will have to wait a bit if they intend to buy one of these special-edition cars.
The ’17 Dodge Challenger T/A and Charger Daytona are performance upgrades powered by one of two naturally aspirated Hemi V-8s – the 375-hp 5.7L or the 485-hp 6.4L “392.” Dodge dealers will start taking orders for the Charger in September and Challenger in October.
The cars are being positioned below the 707-hp supercharged Hellcat variants, while leveraging certain Hellcat features, such as the modified cold-air intake, upgraded “air-catcher” headlamps and performance wheels, tires and brakes.
Pricing falls well below Hellcat as well. Two-door Challenger T/A prices start at $37,390 for the 5.7L Hemi and $43,995 for the 392 V-8. Four-door Charger Daytona MSRP begins at $40,140 for the 5.7L and $44,995 for the Daytona 392. Tack on another $1,095 in destination charges.
Tim Kuniskis, head of passenger cars for Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and Fiat for FCA North America, sees the new models as tremendous values, coming from the factory with features many customers later purchase on the aftermarket.
He sees the Woodward Dream Cruise, which will draw 1.5 million people to watch a parade of some 50,000 classic cars on a divided thoroughfare running straight northwest from downtown Detroit, as the ideal venue to begin marketing cars such as these.
“There will be 1.5 million people here celebrating everything they love about performance,” he says. “And while they are here, that route they will be traveling, there isn’t a single apex, hairpin turn or S-turns. That’s how people are enjoying these cars. That is perfect positioning for us, because these two cars really celebrate what was race cars back in the day for us.”
In connecting the cars to their historical predecessors, the new models were parked here next to a ’69 Charger Daytona (with a massive boxed wing and pointed grille) and ’70 Challenger T/A.
Kuniskis makes no apologies for the new models or their positioning for a new generation of muscle-car enthusiasts.
“These cars are not autonomous; they are not hybrids; they do not get 50 miles per gallon (4.7 L/100 km), and you can’t summon them with your smartphone,” he says.
“What they can do is maybe remind you why you fell in love with driving in the first place and maybe get your kids to stop SnapChatting long enough to take a drive with you to nowhere on a Friday night with the windows down and the radio up and the exhaust screaming into the night. That’s what these cars are all about.”
Charger and Challenger sales have been reasonably healthy (57,852 and 39,998 units through July, according to WardsAuto data). Kuniskis says the two models combine to hold 40% of the U.S. muscle-car market, edging out the Chevrolet Camaro and SS and Ford Mustang.
But the Mustang is No.1 in the segment, with 72,530 deliveries through July, according to WardsAuto data.
Kuniskis declines to say how many of these new Charger Daytona and Challenger T/A models will sell, but he’s certain they will surpass the volume of the original models (503 for Daytona and 2,399 for T/A).
Dodge Meeting Hellcat Demand
As for the Hellcat editions of the Challenger and Charger, Kuniskis says the automaker has done a better job meeting demand. “We actually have some in dealer stock now,” he says, referring to 2,000 units in stock at 2,400 dealerships nationwide.
Dodge will reshape its brand identity as the Dart sedan and Viper coupe go away. But in the meantime, there are 14,978 Darts in inventory (117 days’ supply) and 130 Vipers in inventory (69 days’ supply).
Kuniskis says FCA’s Conner Avenue plant currently manufacturing the Viper “is booked out until the end of first-quarter next year.”
Asked if he would like to see the Viper come back in some form in the future, he says: “It’s been a great car for the brand, but right now it’s run its course.”
This Friday, Dodge is inviting the public to “Roadkill Nights” at the newly christened M1 Concourse track and car-condo complex at Woodward and South Boulevard in Pontiac, MI. The free event runs from noon to 10 p.m., and Woodward in that area will be closed for street-legal drag racing.
“We are going to drag race – not just race but throw a party,” Kuniskis says. “The M1 Concourse will be Dodge for the day, and we’ll have over 1,000 cars on display, with thrill rides in Hellcats and Vipers.”