Lost Dodge-Mitsubishi prototype last seen in 2010 could have become an American Lancer Evo

If Chrysler’s “Prangler” prototype can teach us anything, it’s that really unholy things happen behind the closed doors of automakers’ prototype shops. Whether it’s the countless collaborations with rivals, or just what’s served in the cafeteria there, Chrysler’s in particular seems to produce more quirks than most, one more of which surfaced in photos posted to social media Wednesday night. were placed. They show a slightly restyled Mitsubishi Lancer rebranded as a Dodge Caliber, which was reportedly intended to spawn a Lancer Evo-equivalent coupe that would have brought credit to the SRT4 name.

The photos you see here are from a since-deleted Reddit post, which the author claims was taken in 2010 at the Chrysler Technology Center in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They granted The ride permission to use them on condition of anonymity. The images show what is very clearly a 2007-2017 Mitsubishi Lancer with Dodge’s signature cross-bar grille and Dodge badges presenting it as a Caliber SXT.

“I had just started at Chrysler in early 2010 and had to go to ‘Lot 27′ a lot to pick up and deliver test vehicles,” the Chrysler employee who took the photos told me. Lot 27 is one of the larger outdoor storage areas on the site. Much of the car park is clearly visible from the public road and was not considered safe at all. be parked in one of the many other secured parking areas.’

“I took a lot of trips there to ogle, because there was also a Viper ACR-X, the Dodge Envi electric car, European competition cars, crashed cars and this ‘Dodge Caliber’. I’ve seen a lot of ‘illegal’ over the years photos taken just for memories, this was one I had almost completely forgotten about and always wanted an answer to.”

Satellite view of Chrysler Technology Center with “lot 27” marked, Imgur

Sources within Dodge failed to identify this prototype and disputed its raison d’ĂȘtre, with one claiming it “may have been a vehicle for Mexico” – another emphatically disagreed. I contacted Mitsubishi to see if it had its own explanation, but I may have already found the answer as there seems to be some indication of this caliber’s origins online.

Dodge planned to replace the Neon after its discontinuation in 2005 with a sedan called the Rebel, co-developed with Mitsubishi on a shared global platform. A version of this platform already supported the Caliber crossover, such as Allpar reports, which prevented Dodge from needing another compact car at its 2006 introduction. This apparently caused the co-developed model to debut in 2007 as the new Mitsubishi Lancer, which in turn spawned the Dodge prototype shown here.

Because this Caliber sedan was badged SXT instead of SRT and didn’t have the rear spoiler of the Lancer Evolution X, it’s certainly not Dodge’s equivalent to the Evo; a car that we’re not sure ever existed Allpar claims one was in the works. They say Chrysler played a major role in the development of the Evo X, with the engineering team behind the esteemed Neon ACR bringing expertise, and Chrysler itself apparently helping develop a two-door version (presumably a Dodge exclusive) that never made it to production taken.

2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X Final Edition, Mitsubishi

It’s not clear why the Dodge Caliber sedan – and thus the rumored Dodge SRT Evo – never went into production, though the available evidence doesn’t make it hard to guess. At the time the photo was taken, the Caliber crossover was barely a year away from being discontinued, as sales had plummeted in the aftermath of the recession, no doubt in part due to poor critical reception. Why Chrysler didn’t ditch the Caliber name for Rebel is beyond me, but why it chose not to return to selling re-branded Mitsubishis, as it did in the ’90s, is understandable.

At that point, the Dodge Dart was almost ready to fill the gap the Caliber would leave, leaving Chrysler with little incentive to resell Lancers, and thus its own version of the Evo. Unfortunately, this means that the car that is imagined would have marked a happier ending for the SRT4 badge than the Caliber SRT4 that never saw the light of day. However, these prototype shots still capture the imagination, and you wonder if they would have replaced the Charger in a F&F franchise movie or two.

Do you know the true story behind this unusual Dodge prototype? Send it my way at james@thedrive.com

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