2017 Dodge Challenger GT: What Dodge Needs; Maybe What Buyers Want – Forbes

Posted: Tuesday, February 21, 2017
line of Dodge Challenger cars parked on the street in Portland Maine

Ready to depart from Portland, ME

Portland, Maine is a place that’s once again swinging toward better times. During the height of its Industrial Revolution economy, the city had deep Canadian ties. Likewise, the Dodge Challenger has its fortunes pinned to international cooperation. Let’s torture a metaphor and draw parallels between the two. Bear with me.

Portland’s harbor remains ice-free during winter, so the Grand Trunk Railway carried goods from Montreal for shipment from Maine. Built exclusively in Ontario, the Challenger is a Canadian export which also relies on the United States. Brampton assembles our 1971 nostalgia machines, and they need our continued hunger.

While Portland is experiencing its latest renaissance, it’s hard to say where Dodge goes from here. It needs to keep pumping vehicles into American driveways, but the profitable trucks are gone away to their own brand. Gone too are the minivan and compact Dart. Even the Viper is done.

porter country store building front challenger_gt_038
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This is not the liberal New England of legend. Passing by the Freedom Peddler (in Freedom, NH,) a sign proudly announced the Trinity of the Wild Place: Guns, Ammo, Beer. Cars such as the Challenger and Charger get nods of respect here. American brands in the classic rear-wheel drive idiom with nameplates from a time when the small mills and factories dotting the landscape were in full-swing. Despite its name, the Challenger is more like “The Soother” for a lot of folks, but there was one nagging problem.

You see, the Challenger’s main competitor is…the Charger. Survey data showed people buying something else because they couldn’t get their coupe with all-wheel drive. The Challenger GT probably wouldn’t exist if there were other, newer cars for Dodge to sell, or if its expected replacement had arrived on time. Instead, reality presented fewer options, so Dodge got creative when the sales data presented a “why not?”

orange dodge challenger parked in snow

It wasn’t hard to give those wishful customers something to buy. Most Charger parts fit, so a transfer case here, a few heavy-duty police car suspension parts there, and there it is. It’s automotive sleight of hand, but the Challenger GT remix works well. Dodge is calling it “The World’s First and Only All-Wheel-Drive American Muscle Coupe.” Hooray for qualified language.


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