The Chrysler Corporation resurrection and What is Next?

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Answered by: Justin, An Expert in the Opinions and Editorials Category
Between the release of the famed Chrysler 300 in 1955 and the unceremonious emasculation of the Charger following the 1974 model year, Chrysler Corporation, which housed Dodge and Plymouth, was a big-time player in the muscle car era. After the Charger fell from grace in 1974, Chrysler hit a dark age of producing fuel efficient, emission-compliant family cars. What a drag…

Sure, Chrysler saw some glimmers of hope with the likes of the Conquest and Omni GLHS through the 1980s and even the Intrepid and Neon R/T through the 1990s, but nothing really grabbed you and shook your fillings loose like the Charger, Barracuda and Roadrunner did in the 60s and 70s. That is until the 2000s rolled around.

With its back against the wall, the Chrysler Corporation resurrection started with a brash statement by reintroducing the 300 series, in the form of the 300M, in 1999. Not to say that the initial 300M was reminiscent of the muscle cars of yesteryear, but it was the springboard that has help propel the fledgling company back into the spotlight.

The 2005 model year began the resurrection of Chrysler in the eyes of muscle car enthusiast. The first step for the Chrysler Corporation resurrection was to axe the 300M and replace it with the more familiar 300, which featured a more classic body design and, above all else, a rear-wheel-drive platform. Rounding out the 300 lineup was the 300C SRT8 and its 425-horsepower 6.1-liter V-8 HEMI engine. The base level 300C was no slouch either, with its 340-horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8 HEMI engine.

The following year, 2006, saw the reintroduction of yet another classic, the Charger. Based on the same platform as the 300 lineup, the Charger featured the 5.7-liter-powered R/T model and the 6.1-liter-powere SRT8. Both the R/T and SRT8 allowed muscle car enthusiast to forgive Dodge for killing the “Charger” name by slapping it on a mildly upgraded Omni body. The new Charger did disappoint some enthusiasts, as it looked nothing like the original rendition and came only as a four-door—Dodge made up for this just two years later.

In 2008 Dodge strengthened its grapple hold on muscle car lovers with the release of the all-new Challenger. Unlike the Charger, the 2008 Challenger was strikingly similar to the third generation (1970 through 1974) Challengers. When Dodge released the new Challenger, it did it the right way, no V-6 option, no 5.7-liter option, just straight to the 425-horsepower, 6.1-liter V-8 HEMI. The following year, however, Dodge answered the cries for style and economy by releasing a 250-horsepower, V-6 base engine.

The latest step in the reintroduction of the muscle car to Chrysler’s lineup is the reintroduction of the Dart to buyers. Yeah, the Dart has some relatively tame roots, as it peaked out at 235 horsepower between 1963 and 1967, but in 1968, Dodge dropped a 375-horsepower, 440 cubic-inch V-8 engine in this “compact car,” making it a true screamer with a 5-second 0-to-60 time that rivals some of the fastest cars today. From there the Dart just fizzled off into nothingness.

Well, Dodge shocked the automotive world by announcing that it will release a new Dart for the 2013 model year. Like the Charger, however, the new Dart bears little resemblance to the original and it’s not quite as powerful, as it ranges from 160 to 184 horsepower from its three optional four-cylinder engines. However, the Dart’s aggressive styling and ties to the sleeper muscle car it once was makes it a near certainty that the new 2013 Dart will wow everyone.

That leaves the question out there, what is next for the Chrysler Corporation resurrection? Possibly a resurrection of the Plymouth brand and subsequent release of vehicles like the Barracuda, Roadrunner, GTX or maybe even recycle the “Prowler” name, but equip it with an engine that matches the body—that 6.1-liter HEMI sure would look nice in a Prowler. The sky is the limit with Chrysler, as it slowly rebuilds and re-brands its existing lineups.

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