August 26, 2015
It's traditional for American automakers to bring all their dealers together each year for a glimpse of the new vehicles they'll have to sell in the coming year.
The dealers aren't allowed to take any photos and they're sworn to secrecy about what they saw (wink, wink!). But there's always leakage.
This week it was the FCA dealer body that convened in Las Vegas, Nevada, to get indoctrinated about their future products and, not surprisingly, word about what they saw is already filtering out.
Most significant of those new products is said to be a swoopy new next-generation Dodge Charger, which reportedly earned a standing ovation from the dealers. That's a huge endorsement as dealers can be the toughest critics of all. After all, it's their future income that depends on the success of what they see.
Reports suggest that the new Charger bears a strong resemblance to the Charger R/T concept car shown back in 1999 – which was developed before the DaimlerChrysler 'merger' took effect and changed the direction the brand would take.
That concept car, designed under the direction of Tom Gale, combined styling elements from the second-generation Charger (1968-1970) with those from the cab-forward Chrysler vehicles of the 1990s. It was a combination that worked.
If the dealers' reports are to be believed, the new Charger suggests a change in direction for the brand's designers, away from the formal box-like form of the current LX-bodied cars and back toward more sleek and flowing lines.
The new Charger is said to be built on a new flexible rear-wheel-drive platform shared with the just-revealed Alfa Romeo Giulia, suggesting that it could be smaller and sportier than the current model.
The dealers' reports also confirm the return of the Barracuda nameplate... this time in convertible form and on a Dodge. The original Barracuda was a Plymouth model, built from1964 to 1974.
The Dodge Challenger didn't arrive until the 1970 model year and it shared the Barracuda's structure until both models expired in 1974.
This time around, it's logical to expect the Barracuda to share the Challenger's structure, albeit in convertible form. There is no production Challenger convertible, although several aftermarket forms provide conversions.
Other news from the Las Vegas meeting confirmed the addition of an eight-passenger Jeep Grand Wagoneer luxury SUV to the Jeep lineup, along with a high-performance Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Track Hawk.
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