The future is lame.
In an announcement that was a mere formality given public statements made in recent months, the powerful internal combustion engine-powered Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger as we know them will be no more following the 2023 model-year run, the brand said this week.
The third-generation Dodge Challenger, launched in 2008, has, in particular, been a central figure in the sport of drag racing — the Dodge Challenger Drag Pak factory-built race cars and the Gen III HEMI engines have permeated the Factory Stock Showdown, Super Stock, and Stock Eliminator ranks since their release that same year, and ushered in a new era of factory drag racing wars with Ford and Chevrolet. The success of the Drag Pak, combined with the muscle car heritage of the namesake, has given way to additional special-edition, often drag racing-themed models over the years, including the SRT Hellcat, SRT Hellcat Redeye, R/T Scat Pack 1320, Demon, and the SRT Super Stock, all of which have ravaged drag strips all across the country.
“We are celebrating the end of an era — and the start of a bright new electrified future — by staying true to our brand,” said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge brand chief executive officer – Stellantis. “At Dodge, we never lift, and the brand will mark the last of our iconic Charger and Challenger nameplates in their current form in the same way that got us here, with a passion both for our products and our enthusiasts that drives us to create as much uniqueness in the muscle car community and marketplace as possible.”
Dodge says it is “seizing the opportunity to celebrate in true, over-the-top Dodge” fashion, announcing that the 2023 lineup will pay homage to the muscle car pair with seven special models, the return of a rainbow of heritage colors, an expansion of SRT Jailbreak models, a commemorative “Last Call” underhood plaque for all 2023 Charger and Challenger vehicles and a new, customer-focused vehicle allocation process.
Since the modern-day Charger was launched in 2005, the Brampton (Ontario, Canada) Assembly Plant has built 3 million Dodge vehicles, representing a billion horsepower.
In a separate announcement, the brand revealed it will offer a new Direct Connection Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak rolling chassis for 2023. The Drag Pak rolling chassis will sport a 4130 chromoly tubing and a fully TIG-welded roll cage, NHRA-certified for 7.50-second elapsed times. These will come equipped with a four-link rear suspension, double-adjustable Drag Pak-specific tuned Bilstein coilover shocks, Strange Engineering 9-inch rear end and Strange Pro Series II racing brakes and Weld beadlock lightweight wheels with Mickey Thompson drag racing tires.
Also for grassroots racers, a new Dodge Challenger body-in-white kit, delivered without the roll cage, is available with standard e-coat or with an optional choice of exterior vehicle colors for the 2023 model year.
Dodge has not yet alluded to any plans to bring the two namesakes back in the future, but rest assured they will be plug-in hybrid or all-electric powerplants if that happens. Suffice it to say, 2023 is likely to be the final opportunity to grab up the last great Dodge muscle car. Have no fear, though, as Dodge also has launched the exciting new 2.0L turbocharged and plug-in hybrid electric crossover, the Dodge Hornet, to fill what it’s billing as it new performance segment. Yawn.