There are three things you can count on every year, getting older, taxes, and someone starting a “Dodge’ Cuda” rumor. In recent weeks our e-mail inboxes have been flooding with questions regarding the return of the Barracuda nameplate, which is widely being rumored as a two-door coupe, slotting in smaller and lighter than the current Dodge Challenger.
The Nameplate May Return, But It Won’t Be What You Think:
As the passenger car market continues to shrink due to the continued trend towards SUVs and CUVs, the current Dodge Challenger has more than held its own in the sliver of the market that makes up two-door coupes. Last year, Dodge sold 60,997 Challengers in the United States, which is 3.5 times more than the 17,423 Challengers sold in 2008. That’s not to say that the coupe market has grown, as it hasn’t. Dodge has just managed to pick up a ton of market share with the Challenger over the years.
Now let’s take a logical look at the future. If Dodge were to introduce a ‘Cuda alongside the Challenger, that wouldn’t grow Dodge’s share in the coupe market; the sales would just come from within that market with the bulk of sales likely coming from the Challenger. So where did these ‘Cuda rumors start?
Back in 2015, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram dealers were invited by FCA to a dealer event in Las Vegas, Nevada. During the event, all phones were confiscated, and the company showed off several of its new vehicles that were in the works. These vehicles included the Dodge Challenger ADR (which later became the Challenger SRT Demon), the 2018 Jeep Wrangler (JL), the 2019 Ram 1500, and two other models that were still in clay form. One was the next-generation Dodge Charger, and the other was a mockup for the Dodge “Barracuda,” a Challenger convertible.
Now while the company was pedaling the name “Barracuda” around, it was to get feedback from the dealer body. While the Plymouth brand was discontinued in 2001, the Barracuda was the sister car to the Challenger in the early 1970s on the E-Body platform. The Dodge brand hasn’t had a convertible model since the fourth-generation (GEN IV) Dodge Viper that ended production in 2010. A convertible model of the current generation Challenger never materialized.
Looking Toward The Future:
We know that a smaller, lighter, more dynamic Challenger is set to debut for the 2023 model year. I know what some of you are thinking. “What if they just call that the ‘Cuda?” From a business case that’s highly unlikely, remember how the Challenger has grown sales 3.5 times since it debuted in 2008? There is a lot of brand recognition with the Challenger nameplate, which has been boosted (pardon the pun) throughout the years by halo models like the Demon, Redeye, and Hellcat. Most (non-Mopar enthusiasts) under the age of 35 are unlikely to know what a Cuda is. Still, everyone knows what a Challenger is, which makes it highly unlikely that Dodge would abandon the Challenger nameplate that has been so successful for them.
Remember the Barracuda convertible that was shown to dealers? Well, our sources tell us that the next generation Challenger is indeed being engineered and designed with a convertible version in mind. All of us here at MoparInsiders firmly believe that the convertible will wear the ‘Cuda nameplate. This is the logical way to bring the Barracuda name back without giving up the name recognition of the Challenger.
Sure we would all like to see multiple performance coupes, but making a substantial investment to compete in such a small market (mostly with yourself) doesn’t make a lot of financial sense. At the end of the day, Dodge is a business and needs to turn a profit. This is why I strongly feel that we will see the Cuda come back as a convertible version of the next-generation Challenger, aside from being its own model.
What is your take on the Cuda rumors, do you feel like our prediction makes sense? Let us know in the comments down below or in the MoparInsiders forums.