skip to content
Driving Line Mark Logo

Back in '99: Did the Dodge Charger R/T Concept Lead to the Hellcats and Scat Packs of Today?

With all of the Scat Packs, Hellcats, Redeyes, Demons and other modern Dodge muscle cars on the street today, it’s easy to forget that Dodge was much different company in the 1990s.

In the late '90s aside from the Viper the most performance-oriented car Dodge made was probably a front-drive Neon economy car or Intrepid sedan. That’s why there was a ton of excitement when Dodge debuted its Charger R/T Concept Car for the 1999 auto show circuit.

1999 Dodge Charger R/T Concept Illustration

The Charger Concept was built on a heavily modified version of Chrysler's LH platform which underpinned sedans like the Dodge Intrepid and Chrysler Concorde. They key difference was that the concept was rear-wheel drive while all of the other LH cars were front-wheel drive.

1999 Dodge Charger R/T Concept Rear

The styling of the concept drew heavily from the Chargers of the late 1960s with a distinct coke bottle shape with a very aggressive stance. The biggest difference from it and the classic muscle cars that inspired it was that the Charger Concept was actually a four-door sedan rather than a two-door coupe.

1999 Dodge Charger R/T Concept Side View

At the time this earned the car from flack from some Mopar faithful who may have forgotten that the Charger nameplate had also been used on a small FWD four-cylinder hatchback in the 1980s—not exactly true to the original formula.

Dodge Charger Concept 1999 Orange

In 1999 Dodge hadn’t yet introduced its Gen III “Hemi” V8 so the Charger concept was powered by a supercharged 4.7 liter V8 that was made to run on a compressed natural gas. Dodge advertised a power output of 325 horsepower and a 0-60 time. Coolest of all, its transmission was a five-speed manual.

1999 Dodge Charger R/T Concept Interior

Not surprisingly, the Charger R/T Concept was a big hit, not just for bringing back an iconic nameplate but because it was a rear-drive V8 powered modern performance machine in an era when not very many of those existed.

1999 Dodge Charger R/T Concept Rear View

Unfortunately the Charger Concept never saw production for a number of a reasons, including that Chrysler had just merged with Diamler and product strategy was shifted. As well all know, a new rear-wheel  drive Charger sedan would in fact be built more than five years later for the 2006 model year— this time on the new LX platform shared with the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum.

2006 Dodge Charger R/T Blue

While larger and not as sexy as the concept from '99, the 2006 Charger nonetheless represented a return to excitement for the Dodge brand, and as we've all seen the Charger has only gotten better since then, evolving into the current widebody, high horsepower monster we have now.

2020 Dodge Charger Widebody

While the concept car itself really got close to production, the Charger R/T Concept nevertheless left a lasting mark on industry and car-lovers. It was made into scale replicas including a Hot Wheels diecast version. And there's no doubt it had some effect on forming the muscle-crazed Dodge brand we know today.

1999 Dodge Charger R/T Concept Front

Even today the 20+ year old concept still looks surprisingly fresh and will forever be a glimpse down an untraveled path of modern muscle car history.

And, on the subject of forgotten modern muscle from the Chrysler brand, we also recently took a look back at the departed Chrysler 300C SRT8.

Return to Top

Recommended For You

Loading ...