By on September 1, 2008

Mopar muscle mojo There was a time when a muscle car’s only traction control was in your right foot; when the human utricle and saccule were the world’s finest yaw sensors. Sadly, those days are gone forever. Yes, but… Let's get one thing straight. The original Challenger was no muscle car. And when Dodge’s pony car performance met (and lost to) emissions controls and fuel economy, the little demon turned into a compact luxury coupe of questionable Mitsubishi heritage. Fast forward to the frenzied pace of the Barrett-Jackson Pimp-O-Rama and the next logical iteration was obvious: the Challenger is now a true Muscle Car.

Challenger? Just doing my job M'am. Approaching the big beast is a suitably daunting task. The muscle-bound MOPAR hails from the Chrysler LX platform, shot into the limelight by Ralph Gilles and his gangsta-fresh Chrysler 300. While the original Challenger tucked away unnecessary belly fat and sported pencil thin bumpers, the new “LY” platformed Challenger ditches the Hank Aaron School of Muscle, heading straight for Barry Bond’s homerun bustin’ persona. And it works: the Challenger's overtly chunky, hunky proportions still have the requisite long hood and short deck– even if the visual weight below the beltline gives it a staid and static appearance.

Driven to abstractionBut it’s worthy of Mark Rothko’s approval; the rear's squared sheetmetal (finished in our testers HEMI Orange) with black trim, red taillights and singular white backup light are a shot of abstract expressionism in a landscape dominated by Altezza-encrusted bubble butts. Add the chopped roof, power budge hood and a subtle wedge spoiler proudly bearing the SRT8 moniker and it’s done. There’s a new badass in town.

But the boisterous overtones hit the skids with a palate of dark charcoal inside the SRT8’s cabin. Luckily, the interior is decidedly Charger-ish, with enough unique parts and upgraded materials to put the rental car references at bay. To wit: the SRT8’s suede accents and elegantly stitched door trimmings compliment the upgraded seat covers and squish-friendly plastics. The look is right, but the execution is far off the mark of an Accord Coupe. No worries, the bangin’ Kicker Audio and in-dash Navigation sport enough modern technology to advance the muscle car to the current millennia.

Fit for a KingsfordWhat makes the Challenger’s interior truly unique: the old school seating on the rear bench. Folding back cushion notwithstanding, the intimate hindquarters offers space for two adults, albeit cocooning them with a tapered C-pillar and sculptured armrests. It takes us back to a simpler, smaller time when high fructose corn syrup didn’t fill our glasses and mandate an interior’s size and shape.

Not that the Challenger is a trim, toned lightweight. At well over two tons, the two-door Dodge is part buttoned-down autobahn bruiser, part miracle mile cruiser. Broken pavement and choppy roads have no effect on the SRT8’s massive 20” Alcoa forged wheels and conservative spring rates.

Hard \'o port!You feel its heft in under any cornering load, even if the multi-link suspension keeps the ship sailing a tight course. Roll control is in the house, but there’s no escaping the laws of physics. Thankfully, the days of bias-ply shredding understeer are history, and power on oversteer isn’t far away– with appropriate coaxing. No surprise there, considering the Germanic levels of refinement in its bones, and a big bore HEMI under the bonnet.

All that sounds great. On paper. 

Profile of a garage queen?First, this is a limited production, hot-blooded American with an aural, tire-shredding (if largely mythical) legend to preserve. Try and keep that in mind when the Challenger’s overzealous mufflers hush the glorious V8 rumble, while you’re waiting for the massive push of 420lb/ft of torque to hit the pavement. Throttle tip-in is muted and the raucous-looking dual exhaust absolutely begs for Magnaflow’s finest cat-back piping.

To say that the Challenger’s disingenuous tuning is a buzz-kill is like saying the undefeated Pats losing the Super Bowl was a bit of a bummer for Bay Staters.

The Challenger SRT8’s strength lies in its highway strut. If one were to find an abandoned stretch of asphalt and wind-out the 425 horsepower HEMI to its limits, you’d discover a touring car that holds its speed like an S-class Benz, with a touch of wind noise from its frameless door glass. And then brings it all down without drama, thanks to a set of fade-free discs wearing glorious four-pot Brembo stoppers. 

The premium price, mandatory autobox, limited production (for now) and polarizing styling isn’t the recipe for a mainstream success. Nor is the SRT8’s 13/18 mpg call on premium go juice. And? All those who want one will get one, and not give a damn. Why would they? The Challenger SRT8 is an immensely comfortable, powerful and over-the-top stylish vehicle. This is what Chrysler stood for in the past, yet works surprisingly well with today’s definition of Detroit Iron. 

Special thanks to Mr. Tim Beck for the seat time.

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76 Comments on “2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Review...”


  • avatar

    The ORIGINAL Challenger (1970-1974) was indeed a Muscle car… you are thinking of the last Challenger which was a Mistubishi, from 1978-1983

    That said, there is a whole lotta deja vu going on here. It feels JUST like 1973 again, doesn’t it? Detroit disgorging last gasp muscle cars as the world collapses around them. I guess George Santayana was right.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    BlisterInTheSun

    Given the bloated nature of this thing and the “suede accents and elegantly stitched door trimmings” it sounds less like an actual muscle car and more like a poser whip for middle-aged guys who probably never owned the real (circa pre-1973) machine.
    Real muscle cars now come from Japan it seems (although the new Camaro may buck this trend) if in fact muscle cars are still beholden to the formula I remember – cheap to buy, easy to modify, fast to run, and cool to cruise with yer Sweetie down Highway 9 to Seaside Heights, just like The Boss sings about….

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    The ORIGINAL Challenger (1970-1974) was indeed a Muscle car… you are thinking of the last Challenger which was a Mistubishi, from 1978-1983

    I’m sure this will be the focus of endless bickering, but the original Challenger is considered more of a pony car intended to go against the Mustang and Camaro/Firebird offerings.

    That said, there is a whole lotta deja vu going on here. It feels JUST like 1973 again, doesn’t it? Detroit disgorging last gasp muscle cars as the world collapses around them. I guess George Santayana was right.

    Well, if this is their swan song, at least I can take comfort in knowing that they went out in a blaze of glory and not whimpering with their tail between their legs.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Nice, but the R/T with a manual tranmission seems like a better deal.

  • avatar
    partsisparts

    The original Challenger/Cuda were pony cars. They were way to slow to be muscle cars, due to their weight. The reason why 340 Dusters were built was because Challengers and Cudas were getting beat all over America.And they needed a fast car at the price point. I had a friend with a 71′ 340 4spd Challeger that got beat more often then not!

  • avatar
    UnclePete

    I have loved the Challenger since 1970, when my dad needed a new station wagon. We went into the Dodge dealer in Port Jefferson, NY and there it was, a metallic green Challenger with tan interior. It was love at first sight. The salesman, sensing my love of all things mechanical and automotive, let me sit in the car, and check it out under the hood (though I cannot remember what engine that car did have). I didn’t get to drive it as I was two years shy of that 16 year old nirvana, the driver’s license (even though I had been driving since I was 12…) I thought it would be the perfect car, even though my then 6 year old brother would have to ride in the trunk; heck, I thought that was a pretty good trade off! My dad did leave with a green/tan Dodge, but it was a Coronet wagon (with the 383cu in 4bbl, a car I thoroughly enjoyed as a teen, but that’s another story.)

    While the new Challenger does tug at those strings, I saw one in person and just couldn’t fall in love with it the same way. Given its size, it’s more of a GT car than a muscle car, just like my ’06 GTO. For now I’ll stick with my GTO: it has a manual tranny, gets 22-24mpg in my highway-biased driving, a much nicer factory exhaust sound, a slightly nicer interior (IMHO) and it’s paid for!

    When I do need a Challenger fix, I can drive a friend’s ’71. Even though it has a 318 and automatic, it does take me back to a time when I just couldn’t wait to graduate from an automobile passenger to a driver.

  • avatar
    beetlebug

    “The reason why 340 Dusters were built was because Challengers and Cudas were getting beat all over America”

    I hate to be a nit-picker, but Chrysler had 340 A-Body cars (Dart, Valiant etc.) since 1968. When the Duster/Demon body style came out it was on the same A-Body Chassis and got the same engine choices. So, it was never a response to anything (other than needed a less stodgy body). In fact, Barracudas were A-Body when they first came out. Lastly, not sure how you define “getting beat” but at least in the straight line Hemi and 6-Pack Cudas and Challengers probably were at the very top of street/strip pyramid. They never had much success in Trans Am, but they at least proved to be competitive.

  • avatar
    JJ

    Nice, but the R/T with a manual tranmission seems like a better deal.

    Exactly.

    I would even consider buying one in the US, eventhough the interior doesn’t look like much and it’s riding on a 1995 Mercedes chassis. But obviously right here in the Netherlands the SRT is going to cost about EUR 70k…which makes it a quite different story.

    To think that the V6 version (bad as it may be) in the US costs about the Euro equivalent of a base model Toyota Yaris over here…*sigh* (I know that nowadays the economical system doesn’t follow the rules of relative purchasing power anymore but still).

    On another note; the Challenger does the exterior right, the Camaro might do the interior right, will the new Mustang finally put everything together in one car?

  • avatar

    chuckgoolsbee: even your wiki hyperlink cites the Challenger as Chrysler’s answer to the Pony Car Camaro, which was an answer to the original Pony Car.

    BlisterInTheSun : Given the bloated nature of this thing and the “suede accents and elegantly stitched door trimmings” it sounds less like an actual muscle car and more like a poser whip for middle-aged guys who probably never owned the real (circa pre-1973) machine.

    I kinda disagree, even if I wish it was 500lbs lighter. Muscle cars were supposed to be large and going upscale wasn’t out of the question. THE Buick and Oldsmobile entrys proved it. OR the Mercury Marauder X-100 with its 429, 4-speed, and flat black accents: it was probably the pinnacle of that school of thought.

    The real shitter is that today’s Pony Cars occupy the market of both the 1960’s 2dr family sedan and the entry level sporting premise that we got from the Original Pony Car. If only we had The Chevelle with the Camaro, the Thunderbird with the Mustang, and a small Challenger with the Charger.

    Personal Luxury + Muscle + famous Pony Car name = today’s hot American “muscle” cars.

    beetlebug : not sure how you define “getting beat” but at least in the straight line Hemi and 6-Pack Cudas and Challengers probably were at the very top of street/strip pyramid.

    They were. And the HEMI’s dominance in NASCAR proved it. Sure there were BOSS 429s, Cobra Jets, LS6s and what not: but there’s a reason the gray hair’d set I watch on BJ Auctions go ape when a super clean HEMI hits the block.

  • avatar
    william442

    One needed a 440 with multiple carbs to consistantly win on the strip. My small block Corvette (L76) usually ran around the Hemis.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    The “Is a ponycar a musclecar?” question has been going on since the first V8 Mustang rolled off the assembly line. In the literal sense, no, ponycars aren’t musclecars. But when the first big-block V8 ponycars started becoming available in 1967, they became a sort of early ‘crossover’. The problem was that although they were lighter than the true intermediate musclecar coupe, the performance increase due to the weight savings were negated by the restrictive exhaust required by the cramped engine bay and chassis which hampered engine horsepower.

    Regardless, the new Challenger definitely falls into the category of ‘beautiful loser’. Besides the bastardized appearance, the most depressing thing is the Charger interior, particularly the same ole, same ole gauge package and steering wheel. I mean, c’mon, Chrysler, couldn’t you have done a better retro job and give the new Challenger a proper erzatz 1970 flood-lit Rallye gauge cluster and ‘Tuff’ steering wheel?

    As I’ve said before, imagine how differently things might have been had Chrysler, instead of pandering to the complete retro-look (and hopes of future outrageous Barrett-Jackson auction prices), went with a substantially more original, better looking, and a lot easier to build Charger 2-door coupe with a retro-styled tunnel back rear window being the only nod to the great ’68-’70 Charger.

    Instead, we get a bloated caricature of a 1970 E-body which, ironically, will whither and die in exactly the same fashion as the original one did back in 1974.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Overall, a job well done. This was never meant to be a high volume seller and the initial run will have no problem selling out. No doubt many will enjoy them on the streets, but a few will be tucked away by their new owner, with visions of Barrett-Jackson dancing in their heads.

    That said, I can’t help but wonder about how a few different decisions would have made a big difference…starting with weight. I understand the choice of platform sets some hard points, but with judicious selection of materials couldn’t you pull out 400 pounds? Secondly, why the softer suspension settings? Why not a few suspension options ranging from cruiser to corner carver? The lack of a stick and LSD has been addressed for the ’09’s, which is good.

    Last beef would be the interior. I did get to sit in a turntable car at the auto show (ask nicely; some employees will hook you up!) and the interior, while slightly different than the donor car, really needs a substantial boost in the quality of materials. Any, yeah, a proper exhaust note would do wonders, too.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Overall, a job well done. This was never meant to be a high volume seller and the initial run will have no problem selling out. No doubt many will enjoy them on the streets, but a few will be tucked away by their new owner, with visions of Barrett-Jackson dancing in their heads. That said, I can’t help but wonder about how a few different decisions would have made a big difference…starting with weight. I understand the choice of platform sets some hard points, but with judicious selection of materials couldn’t you pull out 400 pounds? Secondly, why the softer suspension settings? Why not a few suspension options ranging from cruiser to corner carver? The lack of a stick and LSD has been addressed for the ’09’s, which is good. Last beef would be the interior. I did get to sit in a turntable car at the auto show (ask nicely; some employees will hook you up!) and the interior, while slightly different than the donor car, really needs a substantial boost in the quality of materials. Any, yeah, a proper exhaust note would do wonders, too.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    For a good look at the original rent Vanishing Point, a 1971 road movie starring Barry Newman, Cleavon Little, Dean Jagger and an alpine white 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T hardtop equipped with a 4-barrel 440 cubic inch “Magnum” V-8 engine, 4-speed manual and a Hurst pistol grip shifter.

    The cars Chrysler supplied lacked aural testosterone. The director over-dubbed the chase scene portions of the sound track with the Bullitt Mustang’s high speed engine noises.

    http://tinyurl.com/25pnef

  • avatar

    Sajeev, it’s really too bad you couldn’t drive one with a manual.

    Ponycars are a part of muscle cars overall. It’s a silly debate, people do the same things with a V8 Mustang as they do with a V8 Chevelle or any other big (or small) RWD American bruiser. It’s splitting hairs. Run what you brung.

    I think Chrysler knocked the Challenger out of the park. There were tons of them running around the Dream Cruise, SRTs and R/Ts and they fit right in with all the classic muscle cars (many of which like the original Charger are even bigger). I even like the interior in person. It’s all business but it’s not dire. If you want to know how truly awful a muscle car interior can be take a peak in the last Camaro or Firebird, or even the pre-retro Mustang.

    The Challenger along with the Viper could very well be Chrysler’s last great cars. I just hope they stuff the Viper’s V10 in the Challenger to make an SRT10 before the lights go out.

    Two big thumbs up.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Sajeev, Frank and I saw a 1997 Mercury Cougar with 77k on it and we both thought, “This has Sajeev written all over it.”

    The Challenger is good for it’s demographic. However, I wish they had the opportunity to do a lot more with that interior. I’m really not sure whether the car matches the muscle car ‘experience’ once you open the door and see what is in essence, a parts bin menagerie.

    Overall, it strikes me more as a late 80’s Supra type of vehicle. It’s pointlessly heavy, proportions are a bit too distorted, and quite expensive for what it intends to be.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    TriShield: “Ponycars are a part of muscle cars overall. It’s a silly debate,Not really. It was a little tough to go auto-crossing with a sixties’ era Roadrunner or GTO. They were limited purpose machines whose focus was primarily on straight line acceleration.

    Ponycars original mission was substantially different. The original Mustang I concept car was a two-seater powered by a 1.5L German V4. Henry Ford II wanted a ‘mini-Thunderbird’ and the production 1964½ Mustang ended up being somewhere in the middle based on the economy car Falcon chassis. Nowhere was it ever intended to have a front-heavy, big-block V8 engine typical of ‘real’ musclecars. In fact, if not for the runaway success of the first ‘true’ musclecar, the 1964 GTO, the ponycar/musclecar debate would never have happened.

    Even in 1967, the big-blocks had to be shoehorned into ponycar engine bays. The 396 Camaro wasn’t too bad but it was so crowded in the 1967 383 Barracuda that it wasn’t possible to get power steering or brakes in there. Things were a whole lot different back then.

    It wasn’t until the 1970 E-body Chrysler and 1971 Mustang when the big-block V8 musclecar engines was designed to be included in the engine line-up. While they could legitimately be termed musclecars, their predecessors, not so much.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    Boys, boys, girls.

    1) Let’s stop with the “It’s a passé caricature of itself– DISGUSTING!” commentaries; The Accord, The Civic, Camry, The Carolla, The Altima, the G3x, the Mustang, The Bmw line-up, the Mercedes-Benz line-up– they are all caricatures of themselves.

    2) It’s not a w124.

    3) It’s not, nor never was a w210.

    4) It’s a gorgeous thing to have combined the capabilities of the personal luxury coupé with the American sporting coupé. If they were to offer this car with the Chrysler’s shape and interior, it’d be the one for me.

    Call it Crown Imperial, give it swivel seats, a ‘domesticated’ Viper V10(mated to the hybrid transmission, if possible) and a Silvercrest landau roof with gloss-black accent and you’ve got a fix for exactly what’s ailing Chrysler.

    I couldn’t drool for a plum crazy model any more than I am currently. We want the luxury variant, now.

  • avatar
    agroal

    “cruise with yer Sweetie down Highway 9 to Seaside Heights, just like The Boss sings about….”

    LOL. I live 20 min. from Seaside Heights and decided to go there last week after about a 5 yr. absence. It’s just like it always was-like the bar room sceene from Star Wars!

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    In the Sunday Washington Post there is a review of the Challenger. You environmentalists who want your muscle car fix will be happy to know that, according to reporter Warren Brown, the V-8 has “variable valve displacement (sic)…”

  • avatar
    blowfish

    Drove my bro’s 73 Duster 340, it was not slow, had lots of fun too.

  • avatar
    pb35

    UnclePete

    I grew up on LI as well in the 70s. My dad worked for a Chrysler dealer in Huntington (it’s a bar now). He’d take me and my brother to work with him on Saturdays and I could sit in any car on the lot. I was even allowed to start the ones that weren’t in the front row. What a dream for a kid!

    Anyway, I saw my first new Challenger in the flesh just the other night. It’s beautiful.

    Make mine Plum Crazy please!

  • avatar
    ambulancechaser

    Dealerships in Alberta Canada are asking $65k to start for that car. At least Dodge put it on the road. Where is Chevy’s Camaro again?

  • avatar
    Blunozer

    The Dodge Magnum SRT is a far more desirable car for me. More power than I could ever use, actually usable for schlepping around with kids and cargo, and enough money left over to pay for gas.

    Too bad its being discontinued. I’d be awful tempted if I found a AWD Magnum.

  • avatar
    Nopanegain

    My local header/exhaust fabricator got 44 dyno horsepower from an opened-up Challenger so Dodge was indeed overzealous with meeting exhaust noise regs. That being said, the example I am driving has all of the wonderful luxowafting of an ES350. Downright comfy (and unexpected with those big wheels). Only problem I have had with mine is the Nav locked up a few times and needed to be rebooted…

  • avatar
    sean362880

    Sajeev –

    On the day it was posted, your Hyundai Genesis review had over 100 comments by the B&B by 5:00 pm EST.

    The Challenger has 25.

    What’s that say about which car is more significant?

  • avatar
    M20E30

    I would like to know why everybody continually blasts the 1978-1983 Dodge Charger/Plymouth Sapporo(Nee, Mitsubishi Galant Lambda). By the sounds of it, this car must have killed your guys parents or something. It handled well, and the performance wasn’t bad(Relative). Can anybody give me a logical excuse as to why this car is so maligned?

  • avatar
    Flashpoint

    The Dodge Challenger is the penultimate example of why America’s motor companies are in such trouble.

    While Honda has put out the accord, coupe and pilot…hyundai/Kia have the Genesis, Rio, santa Fe, Sonata, etc…

    American motors are still putting out heavy, gas guzzlers like the FLEX, SRT8 Hemi ANYTHING and big SUV’s.

    What justification is there for putting a car like this on the road right now? It will never be a huge seller…its a Limited Edition and will be even more limited if fuel prices stay where they are.

    The Charger and the 300 with the V6 3.5 Liters actually make more sense than this car does.

    with such a cheap interior, this car competes with a Nissan but the new Hyundai Genesis puts it to shame in all but straightline power.

    This car has too much bump steer.

  • avatar

    rudiger : The “Is a ponycar a musclecar?” question has been going on since the first V8 Mustang rolled off the assembly line. In the literal sense, no, ponycars aren’t musclecars. But when the first big-block V8 ponycars started becoming available in 1967, they became a sort of early ‘crossover’.

    That’s very well put. If this was a message board and I could give rep points, you’d get some for that analysis.

    ———————-

    golden2husky : That said, I can’t help but wonder about how a few different decisions would have made a big difference…starting with weight. I understand the choice of platform sets some hard points, but with judicious selection of materials couldn’t you pull out 400 pounds? Secondly, why the softer suspension settings? Why not a few suspension options ranging from cruiser to corner carver? The lack of a stick and LSD has been addressed for the ’09’s, which is good.

    Good questions. I expect #1 is a cost issue, and Chrysler is still interested in making this as competitive as possible with the lighter, cheaper Mustang. Which makes me laugh to say it, since I think the new ‘stang is a yacht. ☺

    #2: I expect a few different suspension settings will be available to keep the product “fresh” a la BULLITT Mustang. Its just a matter of time before Chrysler reissues the T/A with a 5.7L, 6-speed, and the most aggressive suspension they can rummage up using MOPAR and/or the aftermarket’s help.

    ———————-

    Gardiner Westbound : The cars Chrysler supplied lacked aural testosterone. The director over-dubbed the chase scene portions of the sound track with the Bullitt Mustang’s high speed engine noises.

    That wasn’t the only movie that recycled the soundtrack, I can’t remember the name, but it was from the early 70s and a Chevy Nova had that classic Ford V8 sound to it.

    ———————-
    TriShield : Sajeev, it’s really too bad you couldn’t drive one with a manual.

    True dat. But I see why it went down like this. There’s no 6.1L HEMI + 6-speed combo currently available, and who knows how much time and money the EPA certification of that powertrain would set Cerberus back. Everyone is late to the Mustang Pony party AGAIN, so time is of the essence. Not to mention the Hyundai Genesis coupe is already in the works. And if it’s within spitting distance of the 4.6L Sedan I drove…

    ———————-

    Steven Lang : Sajeev, Frank and I saw a 1997 Mercury Cougar with 77k on it and we both thought, “This has Sajeev written all over it.”

    Oh danger! Seriously, the Mark VIII is enough MN-12 based trouble for me.

    ———————-

    rudiger : It wasn’t until the 1970 E-body Chrysler and 1971 Mustang when the big-block V8 musclecar engines was designed to be included in the engine line-up. While they could legitimately be termed musclecars, their predecessors, not so much.

    No doubt. I’ve seen a few BOSS 429s in my time, and the space between the valve covers and the shock towers is disturbingly tight. Muscle Pony cars are a definite afterthought.

    ———————-
    ambulancechaser : Dealerships in Alberta Canada are asking $65k to start for that car. At least Dodge put it on the road. Where is Chevy’s Camaro again?

    I’m patiently waiting to get my hands on one come next March. You know, if what GM says is true.

    ———————-

    Nopanegain : My local header/exhaust fabricator got 44 dyno horsepower from an opened-up Challenger so Dodge was indeed overzealous with meeting exhaust noise regs.

    I am assuming that includes a reprogram to go with the exhaust, right? But thanks for proving my point. Why anyone would kneecap such a seemingly “loud” car with a soft tune is beyond my comprehension.

    ———————-
    sean362880 : On the day it was posted, your Hyundai Genesis review had over 100 comments by the B&B by 5:00 pm EST. The Challenger has 25. What’s that say about which car is more significant?

    It says I write for TTAC, not Power Block TV. That, and it is a holiday. :)

    ———————-

    M20E30 : I would like to know why everybody continually blasts the 1978-1983 Dodge Charger/Plymouth Sapporo(Nee, Mitsubishi Galant Lambda). Can anybody give me a logical excuse as to why this car is so maligned?

    That’s because everything from the 1970s and early 1980s sucks relative to its predecessors and successors. History is a tough taskmaster. That said, this generation was the one I grew up with, so I love them…and that’s why I mentioned the Lambdas instead of trying to ignore them.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    I would like to know why everybody continually blasts the 1978-1983 Dodge Charger/Plymouth Sapporo(Nee, Mitsubishi Galant Lambda). Can anybody give me a logical excuse as to why this car is so maligned?

    It’s maligned for the same reasons the Pinto-based Mustang II is maligned among Ford fans. No matter how good the Sapporo is on its own, it’s a disappointment to go from a fire-breathing beast like the Challenger R/T to a four pot, even if that engine was huge by 1970’s standards. Of course the Sapporo isn’t the only car that Mopar diehards love to hate. There’s also the K-car based Charger of ’83-’87. Not even Carroll Shelby could save that thing, though he tried valiantly.

  • avatar

    As an addendum to the Challenger saga posted in the blog portion of TTAC, here’s something interesting I’ve pieced together.

    Jen Dunnaway@Cardomain: There was one back straightaway on the CMS road course where I was able to punch it to just over 90 mph with the hammer down on the 6.1 L Hemi, not realizing that they want you to keep the speed down around 50 mph during “touring laps.”

    Apparently I owe Tim Beck a keg of his favorite beer. Touring laps weren’t part of my time with the SRT8. Some may say sour grapes, but maybe I’m a little glad I wasn’t writing a review from behind the wheel of a Chrysler PR car.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I hate this car.

    Now, I have good reasons for this: I find the styling awkward, needlenosed in front and fat-assed out back (the “hips” of this and the Camaro do nothing for me). The car is heavy, the marketing obnoxious, the interior “meh” and the magazine fawning tiresome. It’s primary virtue is trying to render sixties-era body shortcomings on a chassis isn’t subject to those constraints.

    But why I really hate this car can be summed up in one word: Magnum. I hate, hate, HATE that the groundbreaking LX cars have been displaced by these throwbacks, especially the Magnum. It was such a cool car, even in base trim. It had a modicum of practicality, but was cool in the eyes of urbanites (both metrosexuals and “Werd, dawg!” groups), Mopar nuts and “That-thing-got-a-Hemi?” types. More than what Ford did to the Focus, Chrysler’s failure to capitalize on the 300C and Magnum is just so disheartening.

    Sure, the Magnum didn’t sell towards the end, but I’d be surprised if the Challenger sells half the Magnum’s 2008 volume in the coming months, even if you adjust for gas prices. At least the Magnum was practical, rather than a compromised throwback.

    Yes, I know it’s Daimler’s fault, but that doesn’t make it easier.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    psarhjinian: Good critique.

    The tragedy of the Challenger is that the LX body all but demands a coupe. The problem is that Chrysler came up with the wrong kind.

    The retro thing just doesn’t work for so many reasons, e.g., you don’t build a pony car on a big car platform . . . unless you want to be called a fat –s.

    Chrysler has boxed itself in the corner by fashioning its surviving LX nameplates around retro designs that won’t age well in the $4/gallon era. So at some point they will have to bite the bullet and dramatically change the look. And that will make the current generation retros look stupid.

    As for the Magnum, at least it displayed innovative packaging. I suspect that it failed because of weak execution. The roofline was a too low, visibility bad, and the styling too Tonka toyish.

  • avatar
    Flashpoint

    psarhjinian

    I never, ever liked the Magnum.
    i always thought it was horrid looking.

    to be fair, it gives you tremendous amounts of space…like an SUV on the ground. The 300 and Charger make me happy.

    And you are right, Chrysler failed to capitalize on them.

    HEMI’s aren’t so fun when gas is $4.70

    And now they have a HEMI Hybrid

    HAHAHAHAH

  • avatar
    friedclams

    Sajeev, the other movie to use the sounds of Bullitt’s car was The Seven-Ups with Roy Scheider. He drives a Pontiac Ventura (Nova clone) through Manhattan during a car chase and its sound of Bullitt’s Mustang is hilariously incongruous. Otherwise a great chase scene, though, it’s on YouTube.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Sajeev Mehta: “That wasn’t the only movie that recycled the soundtrack, I can’t remember the name, but it was from the early 70s and a Chevy Nova had that classic Ford V8 sound to it.”The Seven-Ups, released in 1973, and it wasn’t a Nova, it was a Pontiac Ventura driven by Roy Scheider. It was easy to tell it was the Bullitt soundtrack because of the double-clutching, not to mention that a manual transmission was never available with Ventura V8 (the only exception being the 1974 GTO).

    It’s worth noting that the producer of The Seven-Ups, Phillip D’Antoni, also produced Bullitt and The French Connection. I’d say he got plenty of mileage out of the soundtrack from Bullitt.

    However, even though it was a low-budget flick made solely because Chrysler was willing to cough-up five cosmetically identical white 1970 Challenger R/Ts for free, I don’t think Vanishing Point used any part of the Bullitt soundtrack.

  • avatar

    Damn, you guys are good. Thanks for the correction, I totally forgot it was a Ventura. After watching it again on youtube the soundtrack sounds even worse: you don’t scream at redline THAT often in a city chase. But the hot Pontiac on Pontiac action was good for a smile or three.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    More interesting trivia (well, to us movie motorheads, anyway) is that the same actor/stunt driver (Bill Hickman):

    -Drove the Charger in Bullitt
    -Stunt-drove for Gene Hackman in The French Connection. Also has a small speaking role.
    -Drove the Pontiac Granville in The Seven-Ups

  • avatar
    ctoan

    This thing reminds me of faux-Victorian or faux-Colonial buildings. The details are there, but the overall shape is just a regular brick-facade building. The changes have no depth.

    Likewise, you can stick this thing next to a 300, and anyone will figure out in a second that they’re the same car. If the object was to make a 300 coupe, then mission accomplished, but they tried to tap into a legacy, and, in my opinion, ended up with something that pales next to the original.

    Also, the first thing I think when I see the tail lights is “Honda Prelude”.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This thing reminds me of faux-Victorian or faux-Colonial buildings. The details are there, but the overall shape is just a regular brick-facade building. The changes have no depth.

    That’s because they’re trying to duplicate classic design constraints, rather than classic styling. It’s a fine balance, and one Chrysler flubbed.

    Your comparison is apt: Victorian homes look the way they do because you could not build a three-story house with a modern layout using Victorian techniques and materials. If you did you wouldn’t go nuts with fretwork along the soffets or exterior shutters on every window and then proceed to stick a three-car garage in front. Instead, if you wanted a Victorian look, you’d maybe take some leaded windows, smart interior lighting, nice brick instead of siding and, for the love of god, put the garage out back.

    The Challenger is doing something similar: trying too hard to duplicate the short-wheelbase/long-overhang look of a 1960s model for no really good reason other than it was what the original looked like. The sheer size of the engine, archaic suspension, crude frame and (possibly) compensation for older tire technology forced a lot of these cues, and they’re not necessary in a modern car. Older cars look interesting, but they also look awkward. new cars don’t have to look that way.

    The Mustang and Mini have retro details, but the basic shape is thoroughly modern: short overhangs, clean lines, good wheel-to-body ratio at the rear. The stylists of both did a good job taking the details that made the originals an icon and translating them onto a modern frame without making them look like throwbacks.

    Have a look at the clean front-to-back body line of the Mustang, especially the front- and rear- 3/4 views. It’s a slick car, with no bulges or wasted metalspace. Now, look at the Challenger: the hips look contrived; they also make the rear wheels look small. The inward curve of the lower body makes the car look tippy-toed and fat at the same time. The front isn’t bad, but it looks too thin next to the Mustang’s maw.

    The Challenger looks best in black because these details disappear. The Mustang look good in any colour; heck, even the “Warriors in Pink” scheme does the basic shape justice.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    I like it.I really do. I am from the Detroit area. Muscle cars are part of my blood.There is an old ‘Vette(68)in the garage. I know people who worked on this car. Part of me loves this.

    However…it just seems so silly
    .Bloated(Curb Weight 4170lbs). Laughably so.

    The whole retro thing is just so damn stupid. How about a new design sports car. Say…something that weighs a 1000lbs(or more) less. Something with a modern lightweight V8? A modern transmisson. Something that doesnt get 13mpg? The time for such things is far past gone.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    psarhjinian : Very nicely put discussion of the Challenger’s styling. Where I would differ is that I don’t think the Mustang will age much better. Yes, the designers more skillfully worked with retro lines. However, the Mustang doesn’t quite capture the spirit of its late-60s predecessors because it is too large.

    Chrysler had a decent excuse for blimping out the Challenger: It was stuck with a full-sized platform. Ford arguably had more options. My preference would have been that Ford had updated the Fox platform, because I think that’s pretty close to the ideal size for such a modern pony car — particularly once inevitably rising fuel prices required offering a bottom-end four-cylinder engine.

  • avatar

    Saw one of these in person and to the extent that they tried to hide the mass of the Charger, it looks like an abject failure. Also, if $33k will buy a nicely equipped Pontiac G8 which weighs less, comes with a six-speed manual, carries four in comfort and which is rated at 15/24 mpg, why would I go for the bloated Challenger? I’d guess the Pontiac will be far more reliable than the Challenger as well.

  • avatar

    I could like this car if the price was in line with the American muscle car history. Equal the MSRP to the Mustang lineup and bam – instant worthy competitor, and the lower price means more people will be willing to overlook the glaring flaws (works for the Mustang, doesn’t it?).

    Nowadays Magnum R/Ts are down to around 10 grand here in Quebec. I think that says a lot about the “value” of American V8 cars right now. (And yes, at those prices I am thinking about one for when I replace my rat rod sometime in the next year… Or a 02-03 G35 with sport pack and LSD, or a clean C4 Corvette with a manual… Choices, choices)

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Thank you Dodge for giving a potential (affordable compared to the Viper) halo car one of the worst parts-bin interiors. This and the Mustang must be in a race to see who can build the interior with zero style and quality.

    I can’t be the only one that rolls my eyes with this whole retro thing with cars. Didn’t anyone learn a lesson with the PT Cruiser, (discounted) HHR, SSR, Prowler, and Mustang? Time and time again we’ve seen retro cars hit the wall when everyone that wanted on now owns one and then the rest collect dust and require massive rebates to sell. I think the retro design of the Mini has held up so well since every owner can make it their car and production is limited so each one still seems unique.

    I also agree with some of the other posters here that the insane amount of hype for this Challenger combined with the (whenever it comes out) Camaro and Volt can end up a total disaster. I just want GM to shut up and release the Camaro. It has been ages since I’ve seen the rags just turn into mindless zombies to praise all of these cars that haven’t been released yet. “If you build it, they will come…”

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    This would have been the perfect car for the first TTAC video review!! Burnouts, sliding, drifting, revving, Mr. Sajeev’s voiceover! Mark Rothko also happens to be my favorite artist of all time, and probably wouldn’t approve, but that’s another discussion for another day. :O!

    That said, I’d be super interested in this car if it had a convertible version of some sort.

  • avatar

    Funny many here are coming down on “retro”. What as Chrysler supposed to do, make a Challenger that looks nothing like a Challenger?

    Their last new coupe back in the 90s was the Avenger and nobody gave a rat’s rear about it. American automakers have vast and rich heritages they should be drawing upon to create new products as well as getting back to the products that made them great in the first place, like the Challenger. That’s why this car gets so much attention and so much press.

    As many of you loathe the idea of the Challenger I feel the same way about modern, boring, blend-right-in stuff like Hyundai’s upcoming coupe which looks horrid and will look right at home in the sea of silver stuff polluting our roads. I couldn’t care less about how nice it might be inside, or how many MPGs it’s tinny four cylinder engine might return. Those things are not the point of a car like the Challenger (or Mustang, or Camaro, or GTO, or G8, or Charger, or Magnum). If interiors were the big draw of a muscle car GM would have sold all the GTOs they could import. Just as it was during the boom of the muscle car and even through the 90s the interior has never, ever been the point of a these machines.

    It’s always been about tossing your head, the furious soundtrack, standout styling that turns heads and the way it makes you feel behind the wheel cruising the open road.

    This is the type of car that only American automakers can deliver and the Challenger delivers. It has style, passion, heritage and real soul lacking not only in Chrysler’s own lineup but on our roads in general. It is proud Americana in the best way and I would be happy to own one over any of the Asian appliance coupes mentioned in this discussion. This car has so much intangible goodness and character that is simply lacking from cold, modern machines.

    When I spend my money on a new car I want it to be something special. The Challenger is special, the Accord coupe, Hyundai supersized Tiburon, etc certainly are not and never will be. My last new car purchase was a G8 GT in July (and as a G8 owner I will say the car looks pretty lame next to the Challenger and that no, they actually don’t offer a manual transmission unless you want to pony up $38k for the upcoming GXP, the Challenger R/T offers a manual and starts at $29,995). My next new car purchase will likely be another big, V8, RWD coupe, either the Camaro or Challenger.

    Richard Hammond of Top Gear really summed it up best in his article about this car and American muscle cars in general.

    http://www.topgear.com/content/features/stories/2008/04/stories/06/1.html

    It’s worth a read.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    This ain’t yer grand daddy’s Challenger.

    That said, I’d prefer the R/T manual version.

    And I’m with you on your thoughts of the discontinued Magnum psarhjinian. It was such an awesome and unique car, it’s sad that in the end it had to be put to pasture.

  • avatar
    windswords

    Just to correct an historical inaccuracy: Despite what Wiki or any other source says, the original Challenger was not designed to compete with the Camaro or Mustang (although it was cross shopped that way). It was to compete with the Mercury Cougar – a luxury pony car. The Barracuda was to duke it out with the ‘stang and Camaro. Compare the old Challenger to its Barracuda stabemate:

    A body side crease that gave it a more sophisticated look than the cuda (and ensured that NO body panels were interchangeble between the two).

    A longer wheel base (110 vs 108) that gave a slight increase in interior space.

    A ultra lux version, the “R/T SE” with extra chrome, a smaller(!) rear window than the standard car, and more standard and available features such as leather, AC, AM/FM, power locks and windows, and extra lights.

    Now to correct a modern inaccuracy: The Challenger is not riding on a 1996 or any other year Mercedes platform.

    Also history is repeating itself with this car. The original E-body was based off the sucessful B-body Charger. As today Chrysler at the time did not have the funds for a complete new platform. The front sub-frame is taken almost directly from the B-body. That’s why the original is so wide in comparison to it’s competition, and why it could swallow any engine Mopar made, right up to the Hemi, when Ford had to do some shoehorning to fit big blocks in the Mustang. This new LY is a chip off the old E-body even in its platform development.

    Sajeev, can you or someone please do a review of the R/T Hemi with the 6 spd manual? Pretty please?

  • avatar
    barberoux

    I think it is better looking than the Camero. It has nice clean, flowing lines and is proportioned nicely. The color is a bit too hey-look-at-me orange for my tastes. I like the car overall. The interior isn’t ugly. Do you have a color picture of the interior?

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    Sajeev, can you or someone please do a review of the R/T Hemi with the 6 spd manual? Pretty please?

    According to a local dealer, it’s gonna be late MY2009 before a three pedal Challenger hits the streets….unfortunately. V6 powered SE’s have hit the floor (auto only), but the R/T’s are still en route.

    Congrats on a well written, fair review, Sajeev.

  • avatar
    windswords

    barberoux,

    I like the exterior of the Camaro better, and I say this as someone who’s first car (senior year in highschool) was a Challenger. The Camaro is retro touches without being retro, like your children have aspects of you without being a clone. The Challenger is too much a copy of the original. The interior in the Challenger is better looking than the Camaro however. The interior bits in the Camaro just. look. odd. The steering wheel in the Camaro is better, the Challenger steering just sucks. It’s the corporate wheel and screams for something unique.

    Expect Chrylser to issue an updated tiller in the future. Maybe when the new V6 is introduced. If you want a V6 model stay away until the new mill is out. That and a 6 speed auto will probably make for a decent less expensive daily driver with style. I also wouldn’t be surprised if they tackle the weight problem. They already have a special race only version that is 800 lbs lighter. Removing a couple hundred pounds should not be out of the question.

    If Hemi orange is not your hue, they look stunning is silver, blue, and black. I haven’t seen the other available colors yet to render an opinion.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    JEC:

    Forget about the C4, you can get a C5 in the US for a little more than $10k, and the C5 is a much better car. Vettes are overpriced in Canada

  • avatar
    blautens

    If you’re a Mopar fan from way back with some disposable income, this looks like a fine car…but since I’m a GM fan, where is my 2009 Chevrolet Chevelle SS?

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Men and Women who loves American muscle cars will buy this car. Please never compare an American Muscle car to a Japanese car. They are 2 different products.

  • avatar
    gaycorvette

    I’m old enough to remember the original Challenger, which was a chintzy also-ran in the muscle car stakes. The new version is a big improvement. One can quibble about whether it’s the ultimate fantasy fulfilment from one’s childhood, but I don’t think that’s the really important thing here.

    I’m liking the revival of muscle-cardom that we see in the Camaro and Challenger, because it’s a nice challenge to both the aesthetic and dynamic philosophy of the BMW 3-series. I have been wanting for a long time to see an alternative to the yuppie 3-series, with its mindless overcomplexity and underwhelming road presence, and a return to the more expansive, free-riding American tradition of fast cars.

    I see the Challenger as a return to the Peter Fonda road movies of the 70s. Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry, here we come!

  • avatar
    rudiger

    windswords Says: “A ultra lux version, “Also an ultra strippo version. The Challenger ‘Deputy’ (RPO A93) was introduced around the same time as the Challenger T/A. The Deputy came standard with the smallest six (198cid) and fixed quarter windows. Appointments were bargain-basement, and there were a minimum of available options, including the choice of only two interior colors (black or white), and the seats were from the base Barracuda, too.

    However, V8 engines were available in the Deputy all the way up to the 383-4v. Only six 383-4v Deputies were supposedly built, though. Technically, this means that even back in 1970, a high-performance Challenger could be had with fixed quarter windows (just like 2008). Of course, a new 383-4v Deputy would have been priced substantially…less…than the 2008 SRT8 (even adjusted for inflation).

  • avatar
    ajla

    Also an ultra strippo version.

    Yea this would be a great addition.

    Back when TTAC reviewed the Police Package Charger V8 (priced at about $25k), I wrote that if Dodge sold that as a civilian model I would buy it.

    I mentioned the idea of offering the 5.7L in a more stripped-out version of the Charger to a Dodge dealer once and his response was “Well, there are market price points.” But, who knows if Dodge will do it with the Challenger.

  • avatar
    Airhen

    Monday morning I was passed on the highway by a black one! It was beautiful and the owner had no problem driving down that mpg on wide open roads while most of America was sleeping in. Way to go!

    Ah… if I was a single man… LOL

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Chrysler had a decent excuse for blimping out the Challenger: It was stuck with a full-sized platform.

    This is true. They had no other way to do the car. Personally, I don’t think they should have done it at all.

    Stick shift Magnum, baby. All the way.

    Ford arguably had more options. My preference would have been that Ford had updated the Fox platform, because I think that’s pretty close to the ideal size for such a modern pony car — particularly once inevitably rising fuel prices required offering a bottom-end four-cylinder engine

    The Fox was ancient; I think only the S10, Panther and E-Series vans are older. I don’t think Ford could have met standards for chassis rigidity and performance on the back of a platform that’s more than half as old as I am.

    But yes, a lighter Mustang would be nice. I think Ford has an opportunity here, especially with the scale-cracking weight of the LX and Zeta competition. Get the weight down (the current GT is, what, ~3400,next to the ~3800-4100lbs of it’s competition) and, live axle or not, the Mustang is going to have a huge advantage.

    Maybe, oh, I don’t know, rip off the 2900lb RX-8 or something.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Lively discussion, all. This car by it’s very nature will have limited appeal and that is just fine. People drawn to an Accord coupe (and the like) are not the target audience, though some coupe owners might find that they would enjoy the experience if they drove one. While I feel this car has some unfortunate DNA baked in, it targets the intended audience well. People just have different expectations from like items. When friends visit our home, some will make snide comments about the floors that creak and the wavy view through the 120 year old glass. Which is fine by us. We would almost rather be living in a refrigerator box than own a soulless new house. Same with cars like this; some get it, others just don’t.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    psarhjinian: What I was trying to suggest was that when Ford finally put some real money into an update of the Mustang platform a few years ago that it should have maintained the Fox’s dimensions. Instead, Ford considerably plumped up the size to T-Bird territory. That was odd, because one reason the Camaro/Firebird arguably fell out of favor was that they had grown too large.

    It’s unclear to me how Ford will deal with its RWD platforms going forward, but it would make great sense to, as you say, use the RX-8 for the next Mustang. That platform would be small and sophisticated enough for Ford to sell the Mustang internationally. And if IRS and all offends the old boy racers, then Ford can also bring back the five-seater T-Bird on the existing Mustang platform.

    As for the Challenger, in order for Chrysler to meet CAFE standards it may eventually have to downsize the LX platform and switch back to a more aerodynamic look. Hard to say whether the Challenger name is worth keeping if that occurred. Why not a two-door coupe and convertible variant of the 300C or Charger?

  • avatar
    Napper

    wasn’t your L76 a premium motor.

    few small blocks with the exception of those that weree aluminum and factory high reving…7-8k rpm redline……and they did’t come out the hole as strong….

    I wonder how your stock l76 would do against a stock LS7 just happen to have one…or a LS2 happen to have 2 of those as well.

    the Challenger is a hit.

    because it follows what i’ve been saying for years
    build ..classic retro.. If the sold like hot cakes during the opec oil embargo….people will buy them..if only to relive there youth.

    what i would give for a 71 cougar with a 351 windsor… 4 barrel headers, rear end shiftkit. and some fat rear tires and a Jensen 100 watt system.

    this is what i mean…to me that car kicked butt.
    but the whole scene was dying frommthe opec thing.

    yet on U tube you see those same opec nation driving the most ineffeceint superfast cars….racingand laughing…adopting our passtime at 1/10 the price.

    Good going dodge the Srt’s all of them are hits and this will be too.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Napper: “wasn’t your L76 a premium motor.”It was an RPO, just like the 426 Hemi in the E-body Challenger.

    The fact is that the Hemi, although fast, wasn’t the all encompassing ‘king of the street’ as myth and legend would have one believe, at least not in factory stock tune. The ’66-’71 factory option Hemi was a race engine that was detuned for street use and, as such, was temperamental and prone to failure, particularly if the maintenance schedule to continually adjust the valve lash wasn’t followed.

    As a race engine, it was designed to make the maximum horsepower/torque at the upper end of the RPM band. It didn’t perform well at the lower end and the detuning required to make it street legal made it worse. If a competitor with a good running engine could get a good jump from a standing start, a Hemi-powered car wasn’t very hard to beat. This was the way smart guys with cars like the L78 375hp 396 Chevelle would race a Hemi. I would imagine Corvettes with the L76 327 (which in and of itself was a good engine, too) beat them in the same manner.

  • avatar

    “I had a friend with a 71′ 340 4spd Challeger that got beat more often then not!”

    When I was in college We would race after school. I to had a friend with 71 4spd pistol grip challenger. This car was fast but not as fast as my 350 cid plain jane Chevy Nova that cost me a thousand dollars less.

  • avatar
    KingElvis

    Saw some at the Dodge Dealer in Skokie IL (DON’T GO TO SHERMAN – BAD DEALER)

    I was amazed at how short the hood was. The thing is, the firewall on the Charger – and evidently this too – is actually BEHIND the the windsheild, which is held up with a kind of shelf.

    Why in God’s name didn’t they just make the windsheild end at the firewall instead of going past it? It’s MADDENING since the whole point of this car is to be an analogue of past glory.

    I have a suspicion the pushed forward windshield has something to do with aerodynamics and the SRT’s vaunted 170mph top end.

    WHO CARES? They could have made a speed cutoff at the ‘gay’ speed of 130mph and got the styling right. As long as it burns up the quarter mile, no one would have complained that it couldn’t run three times faster than the speed limit.

    The Camaro people had the sense to give it a real long hood instead of a stub.

    By the way, it wasn’t MUSCLE cars – they were SUPERCARS. Go get yourself a May 1965 Car Life. Roger Huntington coined the term Supercar to describe the GTO and it’s cousins from GM.

    Everyone said Supercar at least until about 1967 – then effete Euro-centric rags like “Road Test” used the ‘muscle’ moniker in a decidedly pejorative sense.

  • avatar
    puppyknuckles

    When friends visit our home, some will make snide comments about the floors that creak and the wavy view through the 120 year old glass. Which is fine by us. We would almost rather be living in a refrigerator box than own a soulless new house. Same with cars like this; some get it, others just don’t.

    I’ll bet your house is cool. I’d rather have something charming, even if less practical, than something boring.

    I want a Challenger. Bad. Call me crazy.

  • avatar
    KingElvis

    The charm of the REAL Victorian home can’t be matched by a McMansion analogue.

    Which calls into question why you wouldn’t want to just buy a restored 1970’s Challenger for $30K – you’d have the real thing.

  • avatar

    KingElvis : Why in God’s name didn’t they just make the windsheild end at the firewall instead of going past it? It’s MADDENING since the whole point of this car is to be an analogue of past glory.

    I doubt Chrysler would make such drastic changes to the LX platform, even if it had the money to proportion up the Challenger correctly.

    Its still a German car. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing in this case.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    KingElvis: “By the way, it wasn’t MUSCLE cars – they were SUPERCARS. Go get yourself a May 1965 Car Life. Roger Huntington coined the term Supercar to describe the GTO and it’s cousins from GM.

    Everyone said Supercar at least until about 1967 – then effete Euro-centric rags like “Road Test” used the ‘muscle’ moniker in a decidedly pejorative sense.”Insisting that musclecars be referred to as supercars is rather like Frank Sinatra insisting that The Rat Pack be referred to as The Summit.

    Or, for a more relative example, GM insisting that the late sixties’ GTO be referred to as The Great One rather than what everyone was really calling them, i.e., goat.

  • avatar

    I just wish the car could be 50% lower in weight and 30% smaller in size it would be perfect!

  • avatar
    alpha94

    I saw one of these in person for the first time this weekend. Was an orange SRT8. I have to say it’s the first car, in as long as I can remember, that made me actually pay attention to it. I made a specific effort to walk over to it and just stare at it, walk around and want to drive it. Very cool car.

  • avatar
    KingElvis

    rudiger:

    Just to point out: GM didn’t invent the word supercar.

    It was coined by the press (Car Life’s Roger Huntington) and used by enthusiasts well into the seventies.

    Even a 1977 Car Craft Test of big block pickups declared “Supercars of the 70’s are where you find them – Car Craft’s first truck-off.”

    Seriously, it was supercars. I’ve combed through a zillion 60’s magazines and they nearly all used the term ‘supercar.’

  • avatar
    Viggen

    Great article, this whole revival of American muscle is interesting to watch. Another article, posted here
    http://www.hotcars.com/articles/dodge-challenger-srt8-a-real-european-challenger/
    gives a great viewpoint.

  • avatar
    jstnspin82

    I like how Dodge in a sense recaptured the Challenger and the muscle car days and brought it back for the 21st century. Mustang drew first blood as usual and Dodge came with the Charger now the Challenger, and I think the final blow will be the Camaro. It’s just to bad that the muscle car age ended around 1970 or 1971. I don’t think these new muscle machines are going to hold value like the days of old. Thats when muscle cars were king. I like the fact that they brought some of the style back though, its neat. I would still uch rather have a 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A, a 1969 Chevrolet Yenko Camaro, or a 1970 Shelby Mustang GT-500. Those were the days!

  • avatar

    Having just tried out a Challenger R/T with my father, I have to say that this is one nifty set of wheels. At a very reasonable 35K Canadian, you get a lot of goodies – fully loaded with leather, heated seats, auto everything, pretty much everything except NAV (who needs that anyway). We tried the auto version, which is a bit of a buzzkill (albeit a smooth and quick shifting buzzkill), but the manual is available with the 2K trak pak along with an LSD and a lowered rear drive ratio – and I suspect it is very much worth it, because the auto and tall final drive really masks the major power of the 5.7L and forces you to rev it up to get a move on. That’s not to say it isn’t quick – it’s pretty damn fast for a two ton cruiser once you get it into the powerband. It just doesn’t have the snappy response and low end grunt you would expect from a modern(ish) V8, at least with the auto. Ride is smooth and planted, not mushy at all with the R/T suspension bits. But you do not forget the massive weight, ever. It’s a cruiser, an American GT car, not a lithe sport machine. And if you keep that in mind, it’s a damn good deal and a nice comfy ride. The interior is a bit dull but not nearly as gimmicky as the upcoming Camaro, and there is more space in there than a lot of four door midsize cars (complete with a mafia-spec trunk).

    And I found the exhaust note was, for lack of a better word, delicious. Not too loud but still retaining the classic V8 roar. Dad is seriously considering one, or a Camaro SS if it ever gets made, and despite my aversion to American cars I think this one is a winner and I think I’ll have to “borrow” it as much as I can.


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