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Dodge Challenger back for another spin

Move comes as Big Three look to muscle cars for edge over Japanese imports.



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NEW YORK ( -- Chrysler Group will resume production of the Dodge Challenger in 2008 after more than three decades as it takes aim at nostalgia for the U.S. muscle car era, the company said Saturday.

The Challenger would join the Dodge Charger in the brewing stable of modern U.S. muscle cars such as Ford Motor Co.'s redesigned iconic Mustang -homage to 1960s and 1970s designs built on up-to-date platforms.

"It's a modern take on one of the most iconic muscle cars," Chrysler Group President and Chief Executive Tom LaSorda said.

Muscle cars, typically two-doored with massive eight-cylinder engines, bring back memories of a U.S. era of cheap gas, drive-in theaters and cruising main street.

However, the Challenger comes along when $3 per gallon gasoline has the broad market increasingly looking for less thirsty compact cars.

Chrysler did not say how many of the cars it expected to build per year or the targeted retail price. The new car will be produced for the 2008 model year in 2008, Chrysler said.

Chrysler aimed directly at its potential target customers, announcing its decision to produce the Challenger at Daytona International Speedway in Florida, where the Pepsi 400 NASCAR race was to start later.

The DaimlerChrysler AG unit unveiled a Challenger concept car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. It featured a long hood, short deck, wide stance and two-door coupe body style reminiscent of the car's look in the 1970 to 1974 model years.

"Chrysler Group production vehicles tend to bear a striking resemblance to the concept cars they follow," Chief Operating Officer Eric Ridenour said. "It's not just a re-creation, it is a reinterpretation and a tasty one at that."

The concept car had a 425-horsepower Hemi engine, six-speed manual transmission and a listed top speed of 174 miles per hour.

General Motors Corp. also is thought to be likely to bring back its Chevrolet Camaro after a prototype inspired by the 1969 version of the legendary muscle car received a very warm reception at the auto show in Detroit as well.

The new Camaro would likely be priced at about the same level as the Ford Mustang, which has suggested retail prices from about $19,100 to $26,000, and produced in similar volume.


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