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Auto blogWed, 20 Nov 2013 20:00:00 EST
Being in business for 100 years is a HUGE milestone, so we hope Dodge has more in mind to celebrate its centennial than just a special edition package for the 2014 Charger and Challenger. Called the 100th Anniversary Edition package, this collection of cosmetic enhancements will be available in limited quantities for both cars at a cost of $2,500.
Ordering a Charger or Challenger with the 100th Anniversary Edition package means starting with either a V6-powered SXT Plus or V8-powered R/T Plus model. They can each be ordered in many colors, but only the High-Octane Red Pearl Coat above is an anniversary exclusive. Each car also comes with an anniversary-exclusive set of 20-inch, five-spoke wheels with what Dodge calls "Granite Crystal pockets," a texture that's also mirrored on each car's grille.
Of course, there are commemorative badges galore affixed to the exterior of each car, including "Dodge Est. 1914" fender badges and "100" logos on the center caps of each wheel. The styling theme of each car's interior is a bit more interesting, with Dodge designers trying to evoke "the patina and machinist legacy of John and Horace Dodge," the company's founders. To that end, the leather interior can be had in Molten Red or Foundry Black Nappa, and each features a custom cloud overprint that makes the hide look like a working man's dirty dungarees. Designers also used brass-colored accent stitching on the interior's leather trim pieces, and affixed more "Dodge Est. 1914" badges to the front seat backs and floor mats. We do like the flat-bottomed steering wheel, and the Challenger 100th Anniversary Edition gets exclusive white gauges faces and the Charger black. The "100" on each car's speedometer is also highlighted in red.
When people look back at today's automotive industry, what do you think they'll remember us for? The emergence of hybrids? Ever more expensive and exotic supercars? The dawn of the self-driving car? All likely scenarios, but so is the blurring of lines between one bodystyle and another, giving rise to hardtop convertible coupes and crossovers of every shape and size. But one bodystyle the North American auto industry has stayed largely away from in the past couple of decades is a car nose and chassis with a pickup bed.
It's a bodystyle immortalized by the Chevrolet El Camino, but with few exceptions, we haven't seen too many of these automotive platypuses in recent years on our turf. Subaru tried with the Baja and the low-volume Honda Ridgeline soldiers along largely unchanged, but the genre's biggest adherents are still Down Under, where ute versions of the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon live. With a few other examples scattered to the four corners of the earth, that's really about it. But if these spy shots are anything to go by, it looks like Fiat Chrysler Automobiles could be working to bring it back.
Spied undergoing testing in Michigan, what we appear to be looking at is a heavily disguised Fiat Strada being prepared - like the Fiat Ducato-based Ram ProMaster and the smaller Doblo-based ProMaster City - for Stateside duty as a Ram product. The Strada, for those unfamiliar, is a product of Fiat Automóveis in Brazil and is based on the Palio economy car. The nameplate has been around South America since 1996 and was originally designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro (long before Volkswagen monopolized his talents), and takes a more rugged approach in the form of the Strada Adventure.
It's fascinating the way that one change to a complex system can have all sorts of unintended consequences. For instance, there are hundreds of new Chrysler Town and County and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans built in Windsor, Ontario, sitting in lots on the Detroit waterfront because of the energy boom in the Bakken oil field in the northern US and parts of Canada.
The huge amount of crude oil coming from these sites mostly use freight trains for transport, and that supply boom has resulted in a shortage of railcars to carry other goods. According to The Windsor Star, North American crude oil transport by train has gone from 9,500 carloads in 2008 to 434,032 carloads in 2013. Making matters worse, some North American rail infrastructure is still damaged because of this year's harsh winter, and that's slowing things down even further.
Chrysler admits to The Star that it has had some delivery delays due to the freight train shortage. In the meantime, it's using more trucks to deliver its vehicles. Trucking is a far less economical solution, partially because a train can carry so many more units at one time, but alternatives are slim. The Windsor plant alone has a deal for 33 trucks to distribute the minivans around Canada and the Midwestern US.