(Editors note: I wanted to thank our friend David Zatz of ACarPlace.com for sharing this interesting article with us. He also just wrote an article explaining FCAs different brands that can be found here.)
Decades ago, the Australian Chrysler Charger, a sporty six-cylinder car loosely based on the Valiant, set long-standing Australian speed records and became unbeatable in New Zealand racing. There’s been some talk recently [here] that FCA may rebadge Challengers as the Chrysler Charger to gain some enthusiast recognition. The down-side of that, other than the cost of converting Challengers to RHD en masse — as GM is doing with the Camaro and Ford with the Mustang — is the possible reaction of fans over in the USA. After years of anger over four-door Chargers, there may well be a social-media uprising if a Chrysler Charger shows up in Australia with two doors, even if the same car is available here with a slightly different nameplate (replacing the letters LLEN with RG).
The Charger was somewhat forgotten in recent years, but its stock has risen partly as FCA has tried to regain some market share, and partly as Gavin Farmer and Gary Bridger’s biography of the car sold out, was revised and reprinted, and sold out again. At least a hard core of Aussies know about the Charger now, and Chrysler has made a name for itself with SRT-powered 300Cs joining state police forces. Still, as Australia’s own Stephen Claydon pointed out, many younger people are unfamiliar with Dodge and Chrysler, or find them “like relics from an ancient time.” Is it time to try something new?
The company is also trying to re-establish Ram and Alfa Romeo, and expand Jeep. While a Jeep Charger is probably out of the question, a Ram Charger would not be insane. It would be the opposite of old American practice: instead of appending trucks to a car brand, cars would be appended to a truck brand. Ram is already competing in the truck space on its power and luxury; the Charger and Challenger, or even Charger two and four door cars, would not be out of place. It would also be quite consistent with past Aussie practice — the Hemi was a 265-cube slant six instead of a 426-cube V8, the Six-Pack was triple Weber carbs on the same 265, and the Charger was based on the Valiant.
For the moment, the Chrysler 300C SRT8 is gaining visibility, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is a new sensation, and dragging out iconic names might not be necessary or cost-effective; but there’s no 797 horsepower Chrysler, nor is there likely to be one. That brings up yet another alternative: fitting the Dodge Challenger with a 797 horsepower Redeye package, putting in a different grille, and sending it over as a Chrysler. Is it just crazy enough to work?
So there we have the conundrum for Fiat Chrysler in Australia, which does not want to have five slow-selling brands:
* Join battle with GM and Ford with a Chrysler Charger (rebadged Challenger)
* Just sell it as the Chrysler Challenger and let the Charger name disappear
* Instead of a Chrysler Charger, rebadge the Challenger to be a two-door 300
* Instead of a Chrysler Charger, 300, or Challenger, sell it as a Ram
And, of course:
* Don’t try to engage GM and Ford directly, but work around the margins, AMC-style
What would you do if you were trying to break into the Australian big time, with a limited budget?