Is the Dodge Challenger headed for Europe as a Lancia?

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challenger redline.jpgThere are rumors floating around the virtual watercoolers
that the Lancia Thema – which is a rebadged version of the Chrysler 300 for the
Italian market – could soon be offered as a coupe.  The Chrysler 300 is kind of already marketed
as a coupe in the US and we all know it as the Dodge Challenger. Do these
Lancia Thema Coupe rumors indicate that the Dodge Challenger is headed to
Europe with a new name?  Chevrolet has
begun marketing the Camaro more actively in markets other than the USA so perhaps
the Chrysler Group (and Fiat SpA) could use the success of the Challenger to
spread the name around the globe.

The issue with this speculation is that the Dodge Challenger
is a muscle car with a distinct sporty design but the Lancia brand is one that
focused on luxury.  The Chrysler Group
products that are available in Italy as Lancia models include the Thema
(Chrysler 300), the Grand Voyager (Chrysler Town & Country) and the Flavia
(the Chrysler 200) – all of which are already luxury cars when they arrive in
Europe with only badging needed to help these models fit into the Lancia
lineup.  However, if the Challenger is
going to fit into the Lancia lineup, it will need a good sprucing-up
(especially with regard to the interior) to make this brawny American muscle
car into a luxury coupe.

Perhaps the Dodge Challenger will serve as a model for the
Lancia Thema Coupe but unlike the American Challenger, the Thema Coupe will
still preserve portions of the exterior design from the Chrysler 300.  Inside, making the interior more luxurious
will only be a matter of adding more leather and chrome but on the outside, the
Challenger could be a hard sell as a luxury car.  Also, would Dodge be willing to take the
honored name and design of the Challenger and convert it into a different model
for Europe?  Only time will tell.

The Dodge Challenger is 100% awesome and seeing the big
Mopar muscle car in Europe would be awesome but it seems like a bit of
blasphemy to see the Challenger turned into a luxury coupe for the Lancia
brand.  Should this Thema Coupe rumor
turn out to be true – hopefully the company will come up with an exterior
design of its own so it is more than just a rebadged Challenger.

Longtime auto journalist Patrick Rall contributes to Ford Truck Enthusiasts, Rennlist, Club Lexus, F-150 Online, and YotaTech.

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