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DODGE CHALLENGER CONVERTIBLE NEEDS A ‘BUSINESS CASE’

The Aftermarket Is Currently Filling The Space Where An OEM Challenger ‘Vert Would Be

Dodge Challenger Convertible

Remember the modern Dodge Challenger convertible for sale that made its rounds across the blogosphere a few weeks ago? The majority of muscle car enthusiasts seemed to enjoy it, but the kicker is that it’s not officially made by FCA. Instead, all of the Challenger cabriolets on the road are  a product of the aftermarket, with many of them being manufactured by Drop Top Customs in Florida. Quite a few examples of them were parading topless during the 2019 Woodward Dream Cruise – a natural habitat for the swaggering Challenger coupe convertible.

We recently caught up with Kevin Hellman, product manager for the Dodge Challenger, and asked him about the prospect of a Dodge Challenger convertible, why there never was one for this generation, and if there will ever be one.

“I can’t speak on any prior vehicle development, or any future, but we are aware that people are meeting demand for a Dodge Challenger convertible through the aftermarket,” said Hellman to MC&T during the Roadkill Nights event two weekends ago. “I’ve seen one personally, it’s a pretty nice looking car. But like anything else, there has to be a business case that will support it.”

Dodge Challenger Convertible
One of many Dodge Challenger convertibles seen at the 2019 Woodward Dream Cruise

Whatever that might mean, Hellman couldn’t elaborate. Whether or not it revolves around architectural limitation of the Dodge Challenger’s “LA” platform was not provided. Even though the aftermarket currently offers a Challenger convertible, such an offering from the factory would require significant fortifications to the vehicle’s body to keep it from flexing.

“I can’t speak to what they do, and all the details that’s done to the car beyond just taking the roof off,” said Hellman.

It’s understood that FCA will continue to use the existing architecture (that’s likely well paid for at this point) to underpin both the Dodge Challenger and Charger for several years to come, as customers are content with FCA leaving well enough alone. By extension that means the product teams behind these muscle cars will have to find ways to keep the vehicles fresh for repeat customers, and that could eventually mean chopping the top. There are doubts that this could ever happen. But just as people didn’t think that the Challenger would ever get something like all-wheel-drive, doubters could one day be proven wrong.

The 50th anniversary for the Dodge Challenger is the 2020 model year, so we expect a few more aces up the sleeves of Hellman and company.

Written by Manoli Katakis

Muscle Cars & Trucks was founded by Manoli Katakis - an automotive media veteran that has been covering the latest car news since 2009. His journalism has uncovered dozens of major product changes, updates, plans, and cancellations long before automakers were ready to make things official.

Some highlights over the years of his reporting include the uncovering of the Zora trademark before anybody else reported on the coming of a mid-engine Corvette, as well as the dead-accurate reporting of the coming of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, two years before it hit the market, and even before the debut of the concept vehicle. This type of reporting has immediately continued here, with reports of the original seventh-generation Camaro plans being shelved, as well as what's in store for the Chevrolet Silverado.

Some of his work can be found on massive automotive media outlets, such as Motor1. He also has been a guest on the 910AM Radio Station with Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne, as well as the enthusiast-oriented Camaro Show podcast.

Over the years, Manoli has interviewed various automotive industry titans, leaders, and people that make things happen otherwise. These include figureheads such as GM CEO Mary Barra, GM President Mark Reuss, automotive aftermarket icon Ken Lingenfelter, Dodge firebrand Tim Kuniskis, along with various chief engineers of vehicles such as the Ford F-150 & Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro & Corvette, and many more.

At MC&T, Manoli is taking his journalism expertise, deeply planted sources, driving abilities, and automotive industry knowledge to new levels, covering more vehicles and brands than ever before. This is the place where you will continue to read groundbreaking stories about American performance vehicles, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Here is where you’ll also read insights and quotes from various automotive subject matter experts on the latest relevant products, as well as some of the latest official news from their manufacturers.

Fun facts: he also once beat Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner in an autocross with a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The biggest vehicle he’s ever driven is a John Deere mining truck. Besides a go-kart, the smallest vehicle he’s driven has been a Hyundai i10. He’s also spent time in the cockpit of various American performance vehicle icons, including the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Dodge Challenger Demon, and Ford Mustang GT350R. He has reviewed dozens of trucks, SUVs, and performance vehicles over the years.

One of his favorite new vehicles on the market today happens to be the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. He is also a card carrying member of the Sports Car Club of America, and regularly participates in Detroit Region autocross events.

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