Ralph Gilles, the young CEO of Dodge, has been impressive in his handling of the brand, but may be on the verge of his first questionable decision.
Gilles was responsible for Chrysler’s “baby Bentley,” the well-received 300, while working as a designer and now is receiving credit for re-energizing Dodge with cars like the redesigned 2011 Charger. This is a guy who personally drives a custom Dodge Viper ACR that pumps out 600 horsepower on the track. There’s no denying he’s a smart businessman and a genuine car enthusiast.
So why on earth would he consider bringing back the Barracuda?
Remember, of course, that Dodge has already released version 2.0 of the Challenger, which was the Barracuda’s cousin in the ’70s, so the car’s platform is theoretically already there. I just don’t see how (or why) Dodge could differentiate the two models if they shared a platform and featured similar styling. If it could somehow chip around 700 pounds off the car, give it a new look, and position it more as a competitor to the Mustang GT, it might make sense. That would mean starting fresh, though, which Chrysler is hardly in a position to do.
There’s also the issue that any resurrected ‘Cuda couldn’t come back as a Plymouth, and might even become a Chrysler. That might throw purists into a tizzy, but then again, those purists seem to have had no trouble accepting a four-door Charger, so you never know.
Gilles has worked hard to position Dodge as the most youthful, fun, and performance-oriented of Chrysler’s brands, so why would he be interested in developing a retro muscle car that either wears the Chrysler logo or is just a rebadged Challenger? It doesn’t make any sense.
I suppose Chrysler could use a sports car to help fill out its lineup, but another 4,000-pound road hog based on nostalgia isn’t going to cut the mustard.
Should Chrysler bring back the Barracuda?