For 1970 and 1971, Dodge offered the Challenger muscle car as a convertible. However, the modern muscle car was never officially available as a drop-top. We’re going to look at why that is a problem and how to fix it.
So yesterday, daddy Doug published a video about 15 cars that “car companies should make,” and the Dodge Challenger Convertible was the first and most important mention, followed by a Subaru WRX wagon. Obviously, we’d love a WRX wagon, but the market is pretty small, while convertible muscle cars are a HUGE business.
You only need to spend a couple of days in Florida to see how many Mustangs and Camaros are sold as convertibles. They’re also popular with enthusiasts, so it’s not like the added weight is somehow tarnishing these brands. DeMuro says that about a third of all Ford and Chevy muscle cars are sold as convertibles.
The third and current Dodge Challenger generation was shown as a concept at the 2006 North American Auto Show and arrived in 2008. The $40,000 muscle car proved an instant hit and remains popular today. It rode on the LC chassis, which is a short-wheelbase version of the LX. A lot of components were borrowed or inspired by Mercedes-Benz, and we all know the Germans had a lot of convertibles.
So if Mercedes could make convertibles on basically the same platform, why couldn’t Dodge? Well, various sources have reported that they tried. Chrysler shipped a number of Challenger muscle cars to an aftermarket company specializing in such conversions. Essentially, they had prototypes on their hands but decided the cost was too high.
I think this is just bad luck. As we all know, the economy was pretty bad around 2008 and stayed that way for a couple of years. We now know the Challenger is a huge success and a money-maker. But most other retro-inspired American projects of the 2000s had failed.
The test prototypes of Challenger Convertibles were reportedly crushed in 2009 because they didn’t have a VIN. However, the company that made them, Droptop Customs, is still around. We made a quick sample of what they can do. However, know that they’ve even chopped the Charger sedan and its Chrysler 300C luxury brother.
One dealer in North Carolina reportedly sent their brand new Challengers to Droptop Customs because so many customers wanted one. And this is why the convertible sometimes appears on lists of special edition models, even though it’s not technically a Dodge thing. But if you think about it, the aftermarket collaboration isn’t that different from what was happening in the 1960s and 70s.
Challenger Convertible features
The Florida builder has a number of features that make its Challenger Convertible builds appealing. The top comes with a 1-year warranty and you apparently don’t lose the Dodge warranty for the rest of the car.
The top is long, has a nice square shape to match the boxy body, and is hydraulically powered. The quarter windows which were added in were automated, while the rear window is heated. There’s a color-matching boot to cover the folded part when it’s down, and legroom looks ample. Some trunk room has obviously been lost, but most of them are used as cruisers anyway.
With a basic V6 or even a V8, nobody is going to worry about added weight. However, they also chop Hellcats and Demons, so it’s reassuring to know that extra structural bracing is added to compensate for not having a roof. The cost is about $20,000 on top of the original car. Obviously, that’s too much money when you consider the price gap between the R/T and Hellcat. But some hardcore fans have multiple Challengers, and they’d obviously consider something unique. Also, the silver one with Hemi decals belonged to NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal.