Classic Dodge muscle car is reborn

LOS ANGELES It only has two doors and it gets terrible gas mileage, but it's one of the hottest new cars of the year.

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The brand new Dodge Challenger was intentionally made to look like the Challenger that Dodge made back in 1970.

"It is all of the best things somebody can remember of the 1970 Challenger. I think that we've done it. And it is just awesome to see the reaction from everybody on the streets," said lead designer Jeff Gale.

Chrysler's designers and engineers had a head start with the car. It is essentially the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 underneath.

Once the basic Challenger shape was formed, little details were added. The rear windows, the door handles, the mirrors and even the chrome fuel cap all pay tribute to the original.

"All of those things kind of helped us get back a little bit in vein to the '70, with some of the unique features that car had which we wanted to bring back to our new modern one," Gale said.

They must have done it right, because they're building 6,000 or so for the 2008 model year and have 11,000 advance orders. And that's at a sticker price of $38,000, plus a $2,100 federal gas-guzzler tax.

Initially the Challenger will only be sold as a high-performance SRT-8 with 425 horsepower. The mileage figure is at about 13 to 18 mpg.

Later this year you will be able to get a lower-priced Challenger, but it also gets better economy.

Starting in the fall, there will be a less-powerful V8 version called the R/T and even a base V6 model that will start at under $25,000.

But they will all share the retro shape, a shape that has even the most jaded car people excited.

"As an automotive photographer I am salivating wanting to get my hands on this vehicle. I want to spend a couple of days with the car and the camera. It is going to be a real treat," said David Newhardt.

For many this car is a real treat to the eyes, even if it is a car you'll be treating to a steady diet of premium unleaded gas.


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