Dodge will end current production of the Charger and Challenger in late 2023, the final model year of the two cars.
Dodge is launching seven special editions celebrating its two beloved muscle machines, to be revealed later.
A Challenger convertible, available this year and next, will be built by Drop Top Customs and will add $25,999 to the price tag.
The Dodge Charger and Challenger flexed their modern muscles through the years of DaimlerChrysler, Cerberus, Fiat and, now, Stellantis, but the party is coming to an end. Dodge will stop production of the two popular muscle cars at the end of 2023, but not without a happy ending. Special packages are on the way to celebrate what these cars mean to a sea of horsepower-loving fans, and the team at Dodge’s Direct Connection will join in with a long list of supporting aftermarket parts.
Their departure was largely expected, but not because of rising sales. Among the large American muscle cars, the Charger was number 1 in sales for the first six months, with a more than respectable number of 38,459 deliveries, followed by the Ford Mustang (26,244), Challenger (25,682) and Chevrolet Camaro (11,255) , according to Wards Intelligence data. But the segment overall is down about 20% from the same period last year, and gas-guzzling sports cars are struggling to find their place in a future paved with electrification. The departure would leave only the Durango SUV in the Dodge stable, until a battery-electric muscle car arrives, slated for 2024. Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis announced the Challenger/Charger news Monday night at a Speed Week event in Pontiac, Michigan leading up to this weekend’s Woodward Dream Cruise.
While the latest edition Challengers and Chargers have yet to be revealed, Dodge says seven of them will hit dealer lots. Six of these disappearing models will pay homage to previous Dodges, with the seventh model apparently being the “last of its kind” according to Dodge and set to make its public debut at this year’s SEMA show. All of these special models will be shipped to Dodge dealers and easily purchased by potential customers through a Dodge website.
These special editions get most of Dodge’s attention, but the company isn’t ignoring the standard production models. Every Charger and Challenger rolling out of Brampton, Ontario will leave with a ceremonial “Last Call” plaque under the hood. This plaque will show the silhouette of the vehicle next to ‘Designed in Auburn Hills’ and ‘Built in Brampton’. This aluminum tag may seem silly now, but it could add value at high-profile auctions decades from now.
Dodge is also opening up its Jailbreak program even further, giving Challenger and Charger customers more latitude in ordering their muscle machine and allowing them to mix and match features and options not normally available. Jailbreak was limited to just the Hellcat Redeye Widebody variants, but Dodge is making the program available for more affordable Hellcat models for 2023.
But there’s more going on with Dodge’s phasing out of the most popular nameplates. The Dodge and Direct Connection team goes through Challenger’s sheet metal by making bodies available to customers in white. Aimed at racing enthusiasts, this Challenger body can be transformed into just about anything your heart or wallet desires, for a surprisingly affordable $7,995. If you want more serious scale, Dodge also makes its Drag Pak rolling chassis available. Equipped with an NHRA-certified 7.5-second roll cage, this Drag Pak chassis is one drivetrain away from a powerhouse. Considering the hardware it comes equipped with, the $89,999 price tag is significantly more expensive than the bare-bones shell.
Dodge also partners with SpeedKore to offer carbon fiber parts through the Direct Connection catalog. These pieces are designed to meet Dodge’s requirements for fit and finish while also saving some weight. The Direct Connection catalog will feature more performance parts aimed at the soon-to-be-extinct Challenger and Charger.
Completing the broadcasts, Dodge is And last but not least offering a drop-top Challenger. While the company doesn’t manufacture the convertible in-house, the automaker is working with Florida-based Drop Top Customs to carry out the work. But the purchasing process does not change: customers place an order, the car goes to Drop Top Customs for the conversion and then the car shows up at the dealer. Now this conversion adds $25,999 to the price tag, but Dodge notes that the final price is actually set by the dealer. These convertible Challengers are actually available for 2022 and 2023 models, meaning you can find one before the last Challenger calls.
Dodge’s core muscle machines seem to be disappearing with a celebration of the cars’ legacy. Adding a convertible to the mix and including a fleet of specially prepared latest editions is a fitting nod to the company’s past and a smart move to embrace the company’s performance heritage. We’re still curious what will replace these two Dodge staples. Given that Dodge’s battery-electric muscle car is slated for a 2024 release, there may not be too much of a divide between internal combustion muscle and a battery-electric powerhouse.
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