Dodge to End Charger, Challenger Production in 2023

·4 min read
Photo credit: Stellantis
Photo credit: Stellantis
  • Dodge will end current Charger and Challenger production at the end of 2023, the final model year of the two cars.

  • Dodge will launch seven special editions to honor its two beloved muscle machines, which will be revealed later.

  • A Challenger convertible—available this year and next—will be built by Drop Top Customs, adding $25,999 to the price tag.

The Dodge Charger and Challenger flexed their modern muscles through the years of DaimlerChrysler, Cerberus, Fiat, and, now, Stellantis, but the party is coming to an end. Dodge will cease production of the two popular muscle cars at the end of 2023, but not without a proper send-off. Special packages are on the way to celebrate what these cars mean to a sea of horsepower-loving fans, and the team at Dodge’s Direct Connection will join in with a long list of supporting aftermarket parts.

Their departures were largely expected, but not because of tanking sales. Among big US muscle cars, the Charger was No.1 in sales through the first six months, with a more than respectable 38,459 deliveries, followed by the Ford Mustang (26,244), Challenger (25,682), and Chevrolet Camaro (11,255), according to Wards Intelligence data. But the segment overall is down about 20% from the same period last year, and gas-guzzling sports cars struggle to find their place in a future paved with electrification. The departure would leave only the Durango SUV in the Dodge stable, until a battery-electric muscle car arrives, planned for 2024. Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis disclosed the Challenger/Charger news Monday night at a Speed Week event in Pontiac, Michigan, leading up to this weekend's Woodward Dream Cruise.

While the last-edition Challengers and Chargers are still to be revealed, Dodge does say seven of them will hit dealer lots. Six of these going-away models will pay homage to previous Dodges, with the seventh model apparently the “last of its kind” according to Dodge and will make its public debut at this year’s SEMA show. All of these special models will be shipped to Dodge dealers and easily shopped by prospective customers through a Dodge website.

These special editions see the most of Dodge’s attention, but the company isn’t ignoring standard production models. Each Charger and Challenger that rolls out of the Brampton, Ontario, will leave with a ceremonial “Last Call” plaque under the hood. This plaque will sport the vehicle’s silhouette alongside “Designed in Auburn Hills” and “Built in Brampton.” This aluminum tag might seem silly now but could add value at high-profile auctions decades from now.

Photo credit: The JRT Agency / Dodge
Photo credit: The JRT Agency / Dodge

Dodge is also opening up even further its Jailbreak program, which has allowed Challenger and Charger customers more leeway when ordering their muscle machine and has allowed them to mix and match features and options that might not generally be available. Jailbreak was limited to just the Hellcat Redeye Widebody variants, but Dodge is making the program available to more affordable Hellcat models for 2023.

But there's more to Dodge's phaseout of its most popular nameplates. The team at Dodge and Direct Connection are running through Challenger sheetmetal by making bodies-in-white available to customers. Targeting racing enthusiasts, this Challenger body can be transformed into just about whatever your heart, or wallet, desires, for a surprisingly affordable $7,995. If you want a more serious shell, Dodge is also making its Drag Pak rolling chassis available. Equipped with a 7.5-second NHRA-certified roll cage, this Drag Pak chassis is a powertrain away from being a drag strip bruiser. Considering the hardware equipped, its $89,999 price tag is considerably more expensive than the bare shell.

Dodge is also working with SpeedKore to offer carbon-fiber pieces through the Direct Connection catalog. These pieces are designed to meet Dodge’s requirements for fit and finish while also shaving some weight. The Direct Connection catalog will see more performance parts targeting the soon-to-be-extinct Challenger and Charger.

Photo credit: JRT Agency / Dodge
Photo credit: JRT Agency / Dodge

Rounding out the send-offs, Dodge is finally offering a drop-top Challenger. While the company isn’t manufacturing the convertible in-house, the automaker is partnering with the Florida-based Drop Top Customs to perform the work. But the purchase process won't change: Customers will place an order, the car will head to Drop Top Customs for the conversion, and then the car shows up at the dealership. Now, this conversion adds $25,999 to the price tag, but Dodge notes the final price is actually dictated by the dealer. These convertible Challengers are actually available for 2022 and 2023 models, which means you can snag one before the Challenger’s last call.

Dodge’s premier muscle machines seem to be going away with a celebration of the cars' legacy. Adding a convertible to the mix, and including a fleet of specially prepared final editions is an appropriate nod to the company’s past, and a smart move to embrace the company’s performance heritage. We’re still curious to see what will replace these two Dodge staples. Considering Dodge’s battery-electric muscle car is slated for 2024, there might not be too big a gap between internal-combustion muscle and a battery-electric bruiser.

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