Ever since the emissions and economy laws of the late sixties and early seventies brought the power wars to a screeching, eye watering halt, enthusiasts have bemoaned the loss of the classic American muscle car. Gone were the thundering big-block V8s wedged into undersized coupes. Gone were the aggressive lines and sinister stance that advertized Detroit's unabashed infatuation with high powered cars. Sure the Mustang, Camaro and Firebird lived on, but the spirit had faded.
Today modern technology has allowed manufacturers to deliver the power we crave with none of the emissions we detest. Why then, one might ask, can't they simply bring back the cars so adored by the American public? Indeed why not? And so they have. Chrysler probably deserves credit for kicking off the modern age of retro styling. Its Prowler arrived in 1997, delivering the styling of a classic hot-rod melded with the performance and reliability one can expect from a modern chassis and powertrain. Others soon followed, pilfering their own (and others') heritage for shapes and lines that stir passion in consumers' hearts. The New Beetle, the PT Cruiser, the Mini, the HHR, the Mustang... the list goes on.
Now Chrysler is at it again, bringing us perhaps the most cleanly and gorgeously re-interpreted car yet. The Dodge Challenger. Unlike the new Mustang which borrowed styling cues from several generations and integrated them into a new design, the Challenger concept is a straight-forward remake of the 1970 Challenger. It delivers the lines and stance of the original car, in a thoroughly modern package, backed by a proven chassis and drivetrain. This isn't "building it like the used to." this is better.
For now it's only a concept, but recent years have shown that making the leap to production is not something to bet against. Chrysler says that if the car gets the response they're looking for, it could be in production by 2009. Only time will tell how long the retro movement will last, but for now let's hope DC has the good sense to put this stunning car into production.