The Corvette isn't really a muscle car. But don't tell that to SRT's customer base.
As American cars go, the Chevrolet Corvette stands alone, much as it always has. The closest thing Ford offers to the Vette - the half-million-dollar Ford GT - is a car so rare and exclusive that you'll be lucky to see one on the road in your lifetime, much less own one. Dodge of course had the Viper, until it was discontinued after the 2017 model year, but that car was always too niche - too much of an uncomfortable, uncompromising track day toy - to threaten Chevrolet's two-seater sports coupe in the showroom.
But could the Chevrolet Corvette ever rightly be lumped in with the muscle cars? On paper, that seems like an absurd prospect, but it hasn't stopped Dodge's muscle car customers from cross-shopping the Vette.
In a recent interview with Muscle Cars & Trucks, Tim Kuniskis, FCA's North American Head of Passenger Cars, said "the fact of the matter is that, if you look at online shopping behavior, the [primary car] our SRT Chargers and Challengers are cross-shopped with is Corvette."
"The yellow team will be mad at me that I consider the Corvette to be a muscle car," joked Kuniskis, before admitting that the Corvette isn't actually, truly a muscle car. "But look what it's cross-shopped [against], so we put it in there."
That's all enough to make one wonder: how is it that the Chevrolet Corvette finds itself in such company, especially now that it's migrated to an exotic rear-mid-engine configuration?
Regardless of the answer to that question, Tim Kuniskis feels that the Charger and Challenger plug a uniquely shaped hole in the market.
"There's the other vehicles in the space," he said, referring to the Mustang and Camaro, "and the people that buy them and own them and like them would probably punch me for saying this, but they're very similar... Then there's our cars that are kind of the outliers. They're bigger, they're heavier, they're drag-strip-focused, they're GT-focused… that is a unique space for us. And within that space, we want to be the number one performance brand."
Say what you will about the Charger and Challenger; Dodge certainly appears to understand its audience well. The Challenger nearly tied the Ford Mustang for US sales in 2019, coming up just over 11,000 units short. Add in sales of the four-door Charger, and the two similarly specced muscle cars managed to move more than twice the number of units.