Patrick Rall's picture

The Continued Lack of a Dodge Challenger Convertible Blows My Mind

The 2015 Dodge Challenger was designed to feature some styling cues of the 1971 Challenger and while the automaker has succeeded with this evolutionary design – there is still no convertible and the lack of a droptop version in a segment that obviously appreciates the open air freedom really blows my mind.

A TorqueNews reader named Anthony emailed me the other day to tell me that he loved the slight changes made to the 2015 Dodge Challenger, but he was disappointed that there was still no mention of a convertible model. I really hadn’t given it much thought due to my excitement over the new look, the new Scat Pack trimline and the addition of the 6.4L Hemi engine in the non-SRT lineup…but Mike brings up a good point. Since the modern Challenger was introduced, the lack of a convertible has encouraged fans looking for a drop top Mopar muscle car to voice their displeasure and while I hadn’t considered it, some people thought that there would finally be a modern Challenger convertible. After all, the Dodge Challenger Convertible was a popular option in the early 1970s and those models are among the most collectable classic muscle cars today.

In most cases, when an automaker chooses not to participate in a certain automotive segment, it is because they either don’t have a presence (example: Kia has no pickup trucks) or because there isn’t enough of a demand for the vehicle in question (example: hybrid muscle cars). However, the Dodge Challenger most certainly doesn’t have a presence issue and there is obviously a market for convertibles in the sports car segment. The Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette and Nissan 370Z are all offered in convertible trim, as are a long list of sporty models from companies ranging from Mini Cooper and Volkswagen to Lamborghini and Ferrari. For the most part, almost every sporty car sold in the United States is offered in convertible form so there is no question that the market demand exists yet the Chrysler Group – the same company who used to sell convertible versions of the Dodge Dakota midsized pickup – doesn’t offer their muscle car in convertible form.

The demand for a modern Dodge Challenger convertible is great enough that several aftermarket companies have come up with a conversion package that switches your Mopar muscle car from a coupe to a convertible, but that is expensive. The simple facts show that while younger men are the ones who seem to be the most closely associated with muscle cars, older men and women are more likely to buy brand new muscle cars. Older men and women like convertibles so on paper, there doesn’t seem to be any real reason why Dodge doesn’t build a Challenger convertible…so why doesn’t the car exist?

The problem likely comes down to the weight of a Dodge Challenger convertible. We should all keep in mind that the Challenger is a bigger, heavier car than either the Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro. After all, the Challenger is based on the same platform as the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans so while this affords Challenger owners more functional seating space, it also makes the Challenger a heavy vehicle as sports cars go. For example, the 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T has a curb weight of 4,082lbs while the 2014 Ford Mustang GT weighs only 3,618lbs so when comparing the “standard” V8 models (not including the GT500 or SRT8), the Challenger coupe is 464 pounds heavier than the Mustang. The 2014 Mustang GT Convertible weighs 3,735 so the addition of the drop top features and necessary chassis reinforcements add around 117 pounds to the Mustang. Adding 117 pounds to the 2014 Challenger R/T would bring the curb weight up over 4,200 pounds and that is one heavy sports car – one that would have a power to weight ratio of roughly 11.2 pounds per horsepower. The Mustang GT Convertible has a power to weight ratio of just 8.9 pounds per horsepower. Also, the Mustang GT chassis was designed with convertible use in mind and because of that, the engineers and designers built a chassis that needs as little extra reinforcements as possible. Since the Challenger was not designed with convertible use in mind, adding a convertible top very well may add more than the 117 pounds from the Mustang GT.

In other words, the Chrysler Group likely has continued to ignore the demand for a Dodge Challenger convertible with the current chassis because it would simply be too heavy to compete. The good news is that there have long been rumors that there is a smaller Mopar muscle car coming in the next few years – a car that is expected to be named the SRT Cuda. It is believed that if the SRT Cuda exists, it will be lighter than the Dodge Challenger so perhaps the Cuda will come with a convertible option. Then again, the Cuda is expected to have Viper-like power outputs with a price that will be substantially higher than the Challenger so on the off chance that a Cuda convertible did become a reality – it won’t be competing with the likes of the hottest selling Camaro or Mustang convertibles.


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Comments

Hey Dodge! Build. This. Car. Now! There are not a lot of choices for a FULL SIZED CONVERTIBLE, I drive a 2006 Toyota Solara Convertible and love it due to the size of it, if you built the Dodge Challenger Convertible I would happily trade mine in for that! Thank You, Robert
Me too. I don't really want to have to buy a Camaro but it is the only worth while option with a drop top because they didn't make one. I really liked the 2015 challenger interior too. I hate them for only having a hard top.
If you build it, I will buy it the day it comes out.
Me too! That makes 3 of us lol.
Great article Patrick! I recently read that the 2016 Challenger was going to have a smaller, lighter platform. I just can't remember where. The challenger is my fave vs Mustang or Camaro, but as you say, they both offer a 'vert. Since I'll be in the market for a new muscle 'very this time next year, it looks like I'll have to settle for 2nd or 3rd choice. Anyone know of a company that produces a targa top for the Challenger? I've searched via the web to no avail. I don't want to pay $10k+ for an aftermarket 'very plus I think they're ugly (no offense if anyone reading this owns one!) Curtis
Chrysler will not build the convertible challenger but it is not due to weight. A business case can not be made for it. While the desire is there, 8000 per year need to be built for multiple years to break even. That leaves a niche for Drop Top Customs by Convertible Builders to build low volume custom convertibles.
There's no option because it's not a good choice for them. No top end performance trim offers a convertible due to the structural weakness from the (lack of) a roof. The GT500, the ZR1, no convertible. It shouldn't be an option. If you want it chopped, bring it to a shop and have it done for less than what a factory option would charge you anyway.
Jeff- what about the Camaro SS or Corvette?
Since you brought up weight, I would like to throw in the fact that the Hellcat is listed at 4450 lbs! Ive been begging for a drop top in the Challenger for years.
They won't build it because there is no leadership at Dodge. Somebody's got to come in last and there good with that.
Please build this car. Don't make me buy the Chevy.
Man I've been waiting FOREVER for a convertible option. Pleeeeeeease build it Dodge.
If they were to build it, they would come (and buy). Stock holders would get even richer! But,NOOOOOOO......idoits are running the compan......9 to 5, get paycheck, go home......oh hum....
I purchased a triple bllack 2008 srt that was converted to a convertable by Newport customs out of Orange County California. If you want mopar fans to drive up next to you and ask you to pull over, this is the car for you. I hope they would build this car for others to enjoy, as my wife and I are enjoying the ride and new friends we have met who want the car.
I've emailed Chrysler about this. Haven't got much response other than they are always listening and watching changing market trends. Not sure they're really paying attention. The model 200 is the only Chrysler convertible. I told them that that model just doesn't make it. Looks weigh heavily in which convertible people buy. The Challenger just begs for a convertible model. Send Chrysler's customer assistance people an email. [email protected]
No convertible option is the reason why I haven't bought this vehicle. Otherwise I would have bought a Challenger 2 years ago...probably in silver with blue stripes along the hood.
Dodge made a similar horrible mistake in 1971, they did not offer a performance version of the convertible challenger. There is no existence of a 1971 R/T 'vert, the largest engine available that year was 383 (2 barrel only, you could not order a 4 barrel). Because of that, the Hemi Cuda is the king of the muscle cars, and certainly for 1971. Dodge needs to step up. Dodge needs a Hellcat convertible, I will place my order at that time.
MAKE THE DAMN CAR!!! Im getting closer and closer to buying a Camaro due to this reason. Give the people what they want, especially when it would make you more $$$$!!! Get it together Dodge, or Chevy will run the show, especially given the extra promotion from these Transformers movies (Bumblebee*Camaro).
I work for Chrysler my dream car is a challanger convertible but to buy the car brand new then pay to have the top cut off n then lose ur warranty is not worth it so I bought the stingray corvette convertible
adding 117 pounds is the equivalent of putting someones ass in the driver seat (that's a very small person with no passengers) if adding that little bit of weight would kill performance the car is already doomed build the challenger convertible!
Build this car!
Please build this car with that option, I have a 2009 R/T and I'm ready to trade it for a convertable