If rumors from January’s Detroit Auto Show are correct, the current Dodge Challenger is living on borrowed time.
Even in SRT8 trim, the Challenger is more of a Grand Touring coupe than a pony car, which limits its appeal to the Mopar faithful.
Chrysler thinks it can sell more units of a smaller, more mainstream rear-wheel drive muscle car, and Motor Trend reports that Ralph Gilles is already at work on the design of a new Barracuda. Like the upcoming Viper, this model will probably be sold under the SRT nameplate.
Don’t expect the new Barracuda to be a retro design, though it will likely employ some styling influences from all three generations of Plymouth Barracuda, originally built from 1964 to 1974. The Chrysler group rear-wheel drive platform to be used is currently under development, and will likely be shared with future Alfa Romeo models.
With new versions of the Mustang and Camaro coming for the 2014 or 2015 model year, expect the SRT Barracuda to launch around the same time. The current pony car performance bar will likely be raised, as the next Mustang is expected to get an independent rear suspension, while the Camaro is said to be moving to a smaller (and lighter) platform.
We’ve got mixed emotions on this, since we’re fans of the current Challenger’s styling. As much as we like the car, it’s simply too big for track-day fun, so we’d welcome a more sporting muscle car from Chrysler. The Challenger’s LY platform is also getting up in years, and there simply isn’t enough demand to warrant a redesign.
We’ll miss the Dodge Challenger when it’s gone, but we’re confident that an SRT Barracuda will keep our grieving process short.