Dodge Defines Modern 'Muscle Car' with Its R/T Line-up
6 January 1999
Dodge Defines Modern 'Muscle Car' with Its R/T Line-up
Dodge announced today that it will add two new R/T products to its line-up and, in the near future, build an R/T version of every product where appropriate. An Intrepid R/T and a Neon R/T, built off the all-new Neon, will be the next two products to bear the R/T designation. Both will go on sale in the 2000 calendar year as 2001 model year products.
"Today, we are not only announcing two new products, but also a commitment to produce an even higher-performance version of almost every product Dodge builds," said Jim Julow, Vice President, Dodge Car & Truck Division. "In every case, whether a car or truck, each Dodge product bearing the R/T name will offer the best combination of performance and affordability of any vehicle in its class. We have a storied history with this 'brand within the brand' known as R/T and now we have a great opportunity to write the next chapter."
Currently, Dodge builds three products that proudly wear the R/T designation: the Viper R/T10 roadster, the flagship car for the Dodge brand; the Dakota R/T pickup; and the 1999 Neon R/T.
Like these products, all new and future R/T products will carry many performance and appearance cues to differentiate them from other products in their class.
"The R/T name will have to be earned, not just a production vehicle with the R/T badge and 'go-faster' stripes," Julow said. "We are fortunate to have many engineers who grew up either driving, or wishing for, one of the original R/Ts, and they know what it means to have that name. That combination of performance enthusiasm and nostalgia will ensure that all our Dodge R/Ts will be developed deserving of the name."
The Intrepid R/T blends performance and passion with practicality to form the modern interpretation of "muscle." This four-door, five-passenger sedan is powered by a 242-horsepower, 3.5-liter, multi-valve V-6 engine and features the AutoStick(TM) transaxle, which allows the driver the choice of an automatic or manual transmission. A new performance suspension and unique wheels and tires will provide sports car-like cornering and handling. Unique exterior enhancements, including a rear spoiler, dual chrome exhaust tips and fog lamps, will give the Intrepid R/T the menacing look a machine like that deserves.
The Neon R/T will actually be the second Neon to earn the distinctive R/T designation. In 1998, Dodge introduced the Neon R/T to capitalize on the surging interest in affordable performance cars, as well as promote Neon's success in SCCA Showroom Stock racing. After two successful years of production, the Neon R/T will be discontinued at the end of the 1999 model year. After a short break, the R/T designation will return on the next generation Neon carrying many of the same performance enhancements, only with a new level of refinement and sophistication. A performance-tuned, 150- horsepower 2.0-liter SOHC engine will provide best-in-class performance. Like its predecessor, a sport suspension with unique springs and sway bars will keep the Neon R/T "glued" to the road. The vehicle will sport 16-inch aluminum wheels and performance tires. An exterior package that includes front and rear air dams, sill extensions, rear spoiler and a unique grille will enhance both performance and curb appeal.
R/T History and Future
The R/T, which originally stood for "Road and Track," dates back to the late 1960s when muscle cars, and specifically the legendary Chrysler Corporation Hemi-powered automobiles, ruled the road.
The first R/T was a performance version of the 1967 Dodge Coronet. Offered in both hardtop and convertible form, the standard R/T featured a 375- horsepower, 440-cubic-inch V-8 powerplant, heavy-duty suspension, beefier brakes, larger tires and bold pinstripes. If that wasn't already enough, customers could order a 426-cubic-inch Hemi engine that produced a pavement- rippling 425 horsepower.
In 1968, Dodge introduced the Charger coupe and along with it, the most famous early R/T, the ground-pounding two-door Charger R/T. The Charger R/T carried the same powertrain choices as the Coronet and with it, the moniker as one of the ultimate "muscle" cars.
Dodge countered the success of the Ford Mustang in 1970 with an all-new two-door sport coupe of its own, the Dodge Challenger. The Challenger R/T sported a 318-cubic-inch, 230-horsepower V-8 engine, with the 426 Hemi as an option.
In 1972, new government emission requirements required all engines to be capable of running on both regular leaded and low lead fuels. This spelled the end of the Hemi engine and temporarily shelved the R/T name. Over the next 20 years the R/T named reappeared on several Dodge products before finding a home on the ultimate American sports car, the 1992 Viper R/T10. Loud, bold and in-your-face, Viper R/T10 signaled both the rebirth of the Dodge brand and the R/T name.
"With the Viper R/T 10, we found a vehicle that generated the emotion of the original R/T products while acting as a beacon for the future of Dodge," Julow said. "Because of Viper, consumers took notice of Dodge, which allowed us to bring attention to the other products we had coming such as Ram, Intrepid and Neon."
To many "muscle car" fans, the R/T name will always be synonymous with cars such as Charger and Challenger. But for a new generation of enthusiasts, the name will carry an expanded meaning of what performance is all about.
"The history of R/T is important, but how we interpret it for more modern times is equally important," Julow said. "The perception of high performance, as played out in the '60s, has changed in the '90s and will continue to evolve in the next millennium. Today's performance vehicles must handle and brake as well as they accelerate. And they must also do this while satisfying a number of non-performance needs such as people hauling and load carrying."