The list of passenger cars sent to the scrap heap keeps getting longer. The Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 are goners, Ford models including the Fusion and Fiesta are going to be finished, and last month General Motors Co. announced plans to cull the Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Impala and others. But as Detroit kills off slow-selling sedans, there's one niche that's hung on: retro-styled, testosterone-fueled reincarnations of muscle cars introduced in the 1960s and 1970s.

"What's dying is the commoditized, four-door nothingburger, no-personality cars," said Tim Kuniskis, who ran the Dodge brand at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV from 2013 to early 2018, before taking over Jeep North America. Muscle cars "have a really well-defined personality and positioning."

They also command respectable revenue. Fiat Chrysler, which kicked off the sedan-slashing trend in early 2016, commands an average transaction price of around $36,000 for its muscular Dodge Challenger. It might not be enough to match the fat margins on the trucks and SUVs that have become the focus for Detroit, but these powerful throwbacks can be still be moneymakers. And that can help big automakers finance their shift to a more electric future-especially since the initial investment on developing a Challenger (on the same platform since 2008) or a Dodge Charger (2011) has long since been paid off.

Looking for growth in muscle cars still might be a bit of a stretch. Fiat Chrysler expects to sell roughly 65,000 Challengers this year, about the same as last year and just below the record 66,000 reached in 2015. Sales of the four-door Charger dropped 11 percent this year through November.

Still, compared with the death spiral that's consumed sedans, the Dodge muscle cars are doing alright. Retail sales of large passenger cars, a segment that includes the Nissan Maxima and Chevy Impala, is down 21 percent in 2018, according to J.D. Power. The Ford Mustang, the top-selling muscle car in America, was down a modest 3.6 percent through last month.

Fiat Chrysler, with less cash to plow into new models than its Detroit rivals, revitalized the Dodge brand by appealing to core drag-racing enthusiasts and regularly one-ups itself with more powerful engine variants with sinister names-Hellcat, Demon, Redeye-that boost horsepower. "There's almost been a resurgence with some of the younger [people], even kids that aren't of driving age that are interested in those products," said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for LMC Automotive. "Those kind of special additions and add-ons have really put some life into the vehicles."

David Kelleher, a Philadelphia-area Jeep, Ram and Chrysler dealer who has a marketing agreement with several basketball and football players from the Philadelphia 76ers and Philadelphia Eagles, finds that 20-something athletes often opt for Challengers and Chargers over higher-volume models. "The kids think it's the coolest thing going," Kelleher said. "Those are cars that say something about who you are."