Like with fashion, design trends in the automotive industry tend to be cyclical, as proven by all the retro-themed cars on sale in the last 20 years.
Despite many iconic nameplates built around retro designs, few have proven to be as popular as the third-generation Dodge Challenger, launched in 2008 and still putting up very strong numbers, while undergoing only minor cosmetic changes along the way.
The automaker quickly realized that the Challenger’s timeless looks, recurrent special editions, frequent color changes and constant horsepower add-ons make for a terrific recipe. As it stands, Autonews reports that the Challenger has even managed to outsell its two muscle car rivals from Ford and Chevrolet for the month of October.
Going forward, it could very well end the year with an all-time sales record, thanks in part to ultra-popular versions like the SRT Hellcat and Demon.
Model Year Renaissance
To be fair, the Challenger is far from being the only retro-styled car that’s proven successful in the U.S. these past couple of decades.
In fact, here’s a list of nameplates that fit that mold, although some performed a lot better than others: 2001-05 Ford Thunderbird (64,377 units), 2000-03 BMW Z8 (2,382 units), 2005-Present Ford Mustang (1,383,665 units), 1997-2019 VW Beetle (768,261 units), 1999-2010 Chrysler PT Cruiser (1,050,281 units), 1997-2002 Plymouth Prowler (10,741 units), 2010-present Fiat 500 (189,430 units), 2003-06 Chevrolet SSR (23,479 units), 2005-11 Chevrolet HHR (526,813 units), 2001-Present Mini Cooper (663,162 units), 2009-Present Chevrolet Camaro (744,186 units), 2016-Present Fiat 124 Spider (10,087 units), 2005-14 Toyota FJ Cruiser (222,254 units), 2011-2015 Mercedes SLS AMG (2,734 units).
As you can see, very few of these models can hang with the Challenger as far as U.S. buyers are concerned. By moving approximately 518,677 units since 2008, the Challenger has proven that it is clearly among the most beloved retro-themed cars available today, and if you exclude the Mini, you could also argue that the Dodge is also the most retro-looking among all these nameplates.