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Dodge rides into New Zealand


After an absence of more than 40 years, the Chrysler Group will re-launch the Dodge brand in New Zealand market next month.

Dodge cars will join their Chrysler and Jeep stablemates, and the Dodge Ram pick-up truck on New Zealand car dealers’ yards.

The first model in Dodge’s New Zealand line-up will be the Caliber compact sedan which will be joined by other models over the next few years.
Chrysler Group NZ general manager, Brett Aspden, says Dodge will be marketed under the slogan, “Grab Life by the Horns.”

He says Dodges have bold and aggressive styling and promise a, “live life to the fullest” attitude.

“You only have to look at the vehicles that wear the Dodge name and you can see the brand is more edgy and more out-there.”

Until now only small numbers of Dodges have some into New Zealand, most of them Ram pick-up trucks, and most as private imports. In the US, Dodge is the third largest American vehicle brand; the top-seller and oldest nameplate in the Chrysler Group.

Dodges were assembled in New Zealand from the early 1930s to early 1960s.
In preparation for the launch of the Dodge Caliber in August, Dodge New Zealand has just launched a new website with a special offer to win a 4GB Apple Ipod to promote visitors to the site As we look forward to Dodge establishing a name for itself in New Zealand, here are 10 things you may not know about this legendary brand:

1. The Dodge brothers, John and Horace, formed the company in the early 1900s, first to build bicycles and then motor parts, which they supplied to Henry Ford.
2. Dodge built its first car, Old Betsy, in 1910. That car is now used on promotional tours.
3. Dodge built right-hand-drive vehicles from 1915 for sale in markets that included Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
4. The Chrysler Corporation bought Dodge in 1928 after the death of the brothers.
5. In the 1930s, Todd Motors in Wellington assembled Dodge cars under licence in New Zealand, continuing to build them into the 1960s.
6. In the 1950s, Dodge cars sported some of the most outrageous fins seen on American cars, along with wild two-colour paint schemes highlighted by extensive use of chrome.
7. It was at the forefront of the muscle car boom of the 1960s, with cars like the Charger.
8. In its ultimate form the Charger wore a streamlined wedge-shaped nosecone and a high tail wing and dominated NASCAR racing so much that the rules were changed to make it uncompetitive.
9. A black Charger featured in the legendary film, Bullitt, duelling with Steve McQueen’s Mustang in the San Francisco chase sequence that is regarded as possibly the greatest car chase filmed yet.
10. The Charger also got involved in its share of car chases in the cult television series, the Dukes of Hazzard. Bo and Luke Duke spent week after week outrunning sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane in the Stars-and-Bars painted General Lee, a Dodge Charger.

Dodge has revived the Charger nameplate with a distinctive, bluff-nosed, fastback coupe. The rear-wheel drive Charger will be built in right-hand drive and is expected to be sold here. It forms the basis for Dodge’s current NASCAR racer which is the only US Stock Car to be based on a rear-wheel drive road car. Both the Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Ford Fusion are based on roadgoing front-wheel drive cars.

The soon-to-be-launched Caliber looks a little like a chunkier, scaled down Charger with more rounded, though still fastback, rear-end styling.

Dodge made a huge name for itself during the pony car boom, countering Ford’s Mustang, Chevy’s Camaro and Pontiac’s Firebird with the Challenger.
It raced the Challenger in the TransAm series, but the Dodge Pony’s greatest moments came on the silver screen.

It starred in the iconic road movie, Vanishing Point, a film about a race to deliver the car from Denver, Colorado, to San Diego, California, in 15 hours.

Dodge took the sports car route with the V10-engined Viper, a coupe inspired by the Batmobile of Batman films. It was unveiled in 1989, made a name for itself in sports car racing, and was sold here in very limited numbers.

The V10 has also been used in the high-performance SRT10 version of the Ram pick-up.

Dodge’s re-entry to New Zealand is part of DaimlerChrysler’s plans to increase international sales by one million over the next 10 years. The Caliber is the first “world car”

to be launched as part of the programme. 

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