Dodge Will Sell Convertible Challengers As Its Prepares To Kill Off The Ancient Charger And Challenger Twins After 2023

Challenger Convertible Topshot

Can cars that have been on sale forever also be gone too soon? Dodge has announced that 2023 will be the last model year of the current Challenger and Charger, and the iconic modern muscle cars aren’t going away quietly. The big news of the moment is that customers are now able to order Challenger convertible models with available Hellcat power through Dodge dealerships. Seems a bit crazy, yeah?

The convertible itself isn’t a factory job, but rather a conversion by coachbuilder Drop Top Customs. However, Dodge has boldly taken steps to streamline the ordering process. Starting Tuesday, customers can order convertible versions of V8-powered Challengers directly through Dodge dealerships, with Dodge offering expedited shipping from the Challenger’s Brampton Assembly Plant to Drop Top Customs in Florida. Once the roof gets cut off and a soft top gets fitted, finished vehicles are sent directly to Dodge dealerships. At an estimated $25,999 on top of the price of a standard Challenger, the conversion isn’t cheap, but it’s a good kind of lunacy.

Dodge Challenger Convertible Hellcat

While Drop Top Customs touts structural reinforcements, there’s only so much you can do to beef up the structure of a convertible conversion, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the convertible feels slightly wobblier than the standard Challenger. As such, it feels particularly brave of Dodge to effectively cosign these convertible conversions, especially considering they’re covered under Drop Top Customs’ warranty rather than a factory-backed warranty.

Still, it’s not entirely without precedent. Cast your mind back some 32 years, when Dodge had a rather unusual drop top in showrooms. Rather than slicing the roof off of a coupe, Dodge contracted American Sunroof Company, ASC, to build cabriolet versions of the Dakota pickup truck. Fewer than 4,000 were made between 1989 and 1991, making the Dakota Convertible a rare Mopar indeed. Mind you, the Dakota Convertible was a more official job with full factory backing, but it was still a coachbuilt cabriolet conversion sold through Dodge dealerships, roughly similar to the Challenger cabriolets.

Challenger Convertible Quality Concerns

I haven’t seen a vehicle in person, so I can’t say any of this with authority, but looking at press pictures from Dodge’s event at M1 Concourse, I’m not entirely sure about the quality of the Challenger convertible. The boot to cover the convertible top seems a bit lumpy and malformed, while the trim around the body opening doesn’t appear to line up terribly well between the trunk lid and the left quarter panel. In addition, the door-side window seal on the passenger door doesn’t look like it’s glued-down evenly, while an extra trim panel on the windshield header would’ve been nice to prevent scratches. In addition, this third-party conversion likely isn’t crash tested, so who knows how a Challenger convertible will perform in a side impact collision.

Still, safety and quality were never really first and second in the Hellcat philosophy. Letting anyone with a decent credit score buy a warranty-backed 700-plus-horsepower muscle car is a throwback to the safety third era of lawn darts and Action Park, and getting that sort of power to an affordable price point required compromising on things like interior materials. [Editor’s Note: I actually think the modern Challenger’s interior quality is good enough. -DT]. Hellcats should be a party, and feeling the wind through your hair as you light up the tires from a 40 roll definitely sounds like a party.

Charger Scat Pack Widebody in Plum Crazy

In addition to this convertible cosign, the standard Challenger and Charger are getting some commemorative tweaks for 2023. Dodge has teased seven special edition models, although details are a bit scarce at this point. What we do know is that popular colors B5 Blue, Plum Crazy purple, Sublime green, and Destroyer Grey return to the options list, and every 2023 Charger and Challenger will get a special “Last Call” underhood plaque with vehicle silhouettes and proclamation of origin. I’m not entirely sure if “Assembled in Brampton” is a flex, but Mopar fans are probably stoked for these plaques. In addition, R/T models with the 5.7-liter V8 get “345” fender emblems in reference to displacement, which seem a bit like the automotive equivalent of shoulder pads. On the other end of the model range, the special-order Jailbreak program has been expanded to cover standard Hellcat models instead of just the Redeye cars, offering customers a bit more choice in how to spec their Mopar muscle cars.

top up

While it’s always good practice to go out on a high note, Dodge’s latest announcements leave me feeling a bit sad. I know that the Challenger Hellcat is wasteful and stupid and not entirely usable in the real world, but I really wish its glorious insanity could have stuck around longer. Godspeed, you glorious bastard. I’m definitely going to miss you.

All photos courtesy of Dodge

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit

46 Responses

  1. The design of that convertible top, the visuals are pedestrian. Why would you have a convertible “boot” in this day? Look at any of the major brands that have a convertible. Do you see a goofy leather boot on top of the rear deck when the top is down? They should have have had a design team create a system that seals over the retracted top cleanly without that goofy leather boot.

  2. I was thinking about this recently – when Dodge eventually brings these back as EVs, how will they capture the supposed intimidation/menace that sells them now?

    I mean, they’re both basically Vin Diesel in automotive form, and I’m sure that’s why such these relatively ancient cars as well as they do. While it’s not my thing, as a fan of the Fox Body Mustang, I appreciate when an automaker finds a niche for a particular car and sticks with it as long as possible no matter what Consumer Reports says.

    Will the 2030 or whatever Charger EV have speakers on the *outside* that play high volume engine/exhaust sounds? Or to go non skeuomorphic, will they create some kind of Doom video game sound that plays when you hit or let off the gas?

    1. Yes, because it’s a proven fact that any time someone buys something larger or more powerful than a Civic, it must be because they are compensating.

      Seriously, does it ever get old saying the same thing over and over?

      Plenty of vehicle choices out there I don’t understand and/or wouldn’t buy for myself, but I’ve never once opined that someone buying one of them must have an issue physically. You weirdos are the only ones talking about anatomy.

  3. “We have to kill this muscle car and stuff its absurd 700-HP engine into a larger and even more wasteful SUV…for the environment.”

    The CAFE footprint and light duty truck emissions rules, everyone!

  4. What I wanted Dodge to do was make an AWD Manual transmission Challenger, they never did so I never bought one.

    Since there is basically no way they’ll be doing that now I’ll pass.

    Maybe in the next generation they’ll offer one with the inline 6, AWD, and a manual transmission, that is something I’d seriously consider getting.

    If not then I’ll most likely pass.

    Realistically I don’t need a ton of horsepower, turbocharging, etc. I just want to row my own gears 365 days a year and that requires AWD or 4WD and snow tires in my area legally as I don’t want to put on chains.

      1. I chalk the collective dismissal of it up to The Office.

        You want a mid-level Pontiac Firebird when you see Jim Rockford driving one around LA; you don’t want a PT Cruiser convertible when you see Michael Scott driving one around Scranton.

          1. That authenticity is just so wonderful!

            And Tom Selleck liked it so much that he lobbied for changing Magnum from being the owner of the Ferrari to the guy who borrows it, is always barely keeping gas in it, has it fixed on the sly by T.C., etc.

        1. Oh I remember it being well received, and honestly it’s at the point where it’s kinda underrated, but like the also popular Nissan Murano, there’s no reason to look at it and say “yes, a convertible one of these is a good idea.”

  5. It really is amazing, the mileage Chrysler got out of the Mercedes E platform. Probably the best value that they received in that merger.
    As an old school gearhead, I mourn the passing of these magnificent beasts. Driving a massively overpowered manually shifted automobile is one of the purest joys there is in life – at least for me. The sensuality of a howling V8 cranking out in 2nd and 3rd (and I guess 4th and 5th these days) just gets the blood moving like few other things can.
    The fact that I can see these cars falling one by one as automakers rush to become environmentally correct saddens me. My grandchildren will never know the sheer exhilaration of turning gasoline into the music of the gods.
    I guess I’d better buy one while I can.

  6. I like Challengers and I see nothing wrong with their size. Nice, comfortable Portland to Portland grand touring car. My hope for the future: An updated Challenger with electric power, or their new inline six. Customer gets to choose.

  7. I’ve not been to look at the press photos proper, but is there a timescale on this? Because those trim pieces do look very ropey. But it’s possible the are very pre-production parts.

    Also that tape stripe is very heavy handed and needs to be a bit thinner. It’s looks as if the whole car is black above the feature line.

  8. I’ve always been amazed they didn’t do a drop-top before. Simply because the fact is that the LC/LA platform has never once moved significantly beyond the nineteen-fucking-eighties Mercedes W124 platform it is, which was never anything but the ‘equals’ shitting on the LH platform team.

    Fun fact: this means the LH platform Daimler’s execs shat all over repeatedly had a convertible flavor that met all US regulations sooner, for a longer production run, and at higher quality, done entirely in house. Yeah, I’m still pissed about Dumber-Chrysler and not just because they gave us the shitheads at Cerberus.
    And yes, Virginia. Chrysler really did engineer the LH platform from day one to offer a factory convertible option in the form of the Sebring convertible as the successor to the LeBaron convertible (also done in-house since the 1980’s.)

    1. Wasn’t the Sebring Convertible on the JA platform? I don’t think they did an LH convertible.

      The first-gen Sebring Convertible was very handsome, the second-gen was pretty good, the third-gen was, er, very Daimler Chrysler.

      1. Bah, it’s been a week. Meant JX – not LH. The Sebring convertibles are on JX and JR, which led to the JS; the coupe is FJ platform. (They’re all related but distinct. It’s complicated.)

        The reason for my confusion admittedly in part is because they did bandy about a 300M and a 300 Hemi C (still LHS based, but RWD) convertible in 1999 and 2000. And because both the 300M and Sebring Convertible were selling fantastically – over 50,000 per year for 1999 and 2000 on the high dollar 300M and over half a million Sebrings with a very significant portion being convertibles in 5 years – it wasn’t just greenlit. The tooling was already done.

        Aaaaaaaaand then Dumber-Chrysler happened.

    2. I liked the first-gen Sebring. Really liked the coupe (that front end still makes me happy), but always thought the convertible was pretty sharp for what it was in those days, esp. as a LeBaron successor.

      Seems like all the Sebring mockery really started with the second gen in the 2000s.

      1. Nah, the Sebring mockery is very deserved for the ones with the 4 cylinder.
        It wasn’t completely abysmal in the 2 door, just mostly abysmal. But with the extra FOUR HUNDRED POUNDS in the convertible? 0-60 dropped from a respectable 8.4 seconds to nearly 11 seconds. For a new car in 1998. To put that in perspective: the 2001 Chevrolet Metro wasn’t faster… and it wasn’t slower.
        Yeah.

        But it was a convertible that you could buy off the showroom floor for less than thirty grand – a LOT less. You could get the V6 fully kitted for $26,660 out the door and the 4 banger for under $23k. And it certainly wasn’t a bad car at either price.

        But man oh man, that 4 cylinder… no. Just no.

  9. My widebody is ACTUALLY A HANDBUILT WIDEBODY. Not some shit ya glue on.

    About 3yrs ago, I picked up a Green Challenger in 1/24 for my smol one (about 5 then). Within 10min of having it.. dropped it on the floor and broke all 4 axels = basically trashing the car (just like someone who gets into a expensively fast car and proceeds to not understand how it operates in comparison to their regular plebian vehicle.)
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    I took the model and disassembled it.
    Removed the top at the base also cutting the hood and trunk off.
    I removed the interior including door cards.

    Then refabricating with nothing but tweezers, nail files and a Dremel I:
    Part 1 of 3: Made it a Speedster with no top, but a cover over the rear passengers and a set of rollcage hoops that retract.
    .
    Part 2 of 3: I made it a SUPERBIRD with wing mounted on trunk with wiring through the wing as intially designed for NASCAR and fabricated a nosecone wth 2 sets of lights that pivot inside the nosecone.
    .
    Part 3 of 3: I also made it a WIDE BODY i.e 70s IMSA Porsche 935. That alone took 2-3mo of work. Extra body work starts at the nose cone and allows air to move un-impeded through the sides of the cone up and through the side of the car (front and rear quarters) and exiting out the rear (just like a 70s IMSA Porsche 935). I also put the correct text of S U P E R B I R D on the rear quarters to match the original.

    After cutting out the hood, I fabricated a motor (with vented valve covers, fan, shafts) engine, transmission, driveshaft with U bolts, side mounted exhaust with hangers. Then I went to bed, and forgot I didnt add a torque converter. Had to carefully open it up and put one in.)
    I remade the tunnel and 3 pedals with a stick.
    Redid seats and door cards.

    Put everything back together with the front and rear openable (rear has gigantic / functional wing).

    Took me 9mo… and I built it out of Balsawood.
    If I got a contract like that, I know Id built it better than they did.

    1. you should be happy you can even get a hellcat durango again, that was a really short one year only ride for bit there.

      Not that I am completely surprised, but I feel like dodge is distinctly lacking adequate alternatives that are tested and and approved of by its target audience.

  10. I seem to recall a convertible had been in the product plans back in 2007/2008, but it was a casualty of either Chrysler’s belt tightening in bankruptcy or capacity issues at Brampton, one of the two. Or maybe I’m mixing things up with the Camaro

Leave a Reply