By on November 23, 2011

When you’re a 24 Hours of LeMons judge, it’s expected that you’ll roll up to the track in a righteous Judgemobile. Perhaps it’s a fenderless, three-wheeled Amazon, or maybe it’s a woodie Roadmaster… Sometimes, though, you need to call up a car manufacturer’s PR flack and get something new and shiny, then stand by helplessly as it gets T-boned by some LeMons racer’s runaway Winnebago see how the budget-challenged racer crowd responds to its presence. The ’11 Cadillac Escalade Platinum Hybrid Judgemobile was sort of terrible (though it did have great presence) so this time I decided I’d spend the race weekend with a manly, tire-smokin’ V8-powered vehicle that ought to make heartland American car freaks— for example, the sort we get at the Showroom-Schlock Shootout LeMons in Illinois— start chanting teary-eyed Pledges of Allegiance to a fiery sky full of imaginary F-111s. That would be the Challenger SRT8, of course, in Vanishing Point white.
So, I called up the Chrysler flack: “Hey, Giuseppe,” I didn’t say, “Remember all the nice stuff I wrote about your cutesy little Euro-eco-socialist commuter car? You owe me, paisan’! Now gimme something worthy of a real American, and make sure there’s a goddamn Hemi under the hood. Capisce?
So, next thing I know there’s a couple of heavies with wafer-thin watches and suspicious suit bulges handing over this baby at Midway Airport. Of course, the whole Italian schtick fell apart for me the moment it occurred to me that the Challenger’s chassis ancestry goes all the way back to the Renault 25 (via an illustrious Eagle Premier/LH platform/LX platform lineage), with a bunch of Mercedes-Benz W210 and W220 suspension bits thrown into the mix. Chrysler, AMC, Renault, Mercedes-Benz, Fiat, maybe even a bit of hidden Mitsubishi genetic material here and there— I’m liking the Challenger already!
It’s a good-looking machine, though I could rant for endless paragraphs about the psychological-voodoo/no-doubt-focus-grouped-to-death reasoning behind the choice of the E-Body Challenger as the inspiration for this car’s appearance.
Chrysler never really had a true head-to-head competitor with the original Mustang and Camaro, great as the original A-body-based Barracuda was. It doesn’t matter, because Plymouth’s demise meant the Barracuda nameplate was off the table, so the current Mustang/Camaro rival would have to grab its retro-ized look from the fatter, sales-failure E-body. The ace in the hole was the hagiographic Vanishing Point, which managed to cast the Challenger in a role symbolizing the individual’s victory over The Man’s oppression, breaking the downward-spiral sense of Vietnam-War-fueled American diminished expectations that led to the Malaise Era… or something like that. Freedom.
Personally, I think Vanishing Point‘s brush strokes are far too broad to really capture that early-70s proto-Malaise sense (though the chase scenes are pretty damn cool); Two-Lane Blacktop, also released in 1971, does a much better job. OK, meandering historio-cinematic digression over— let’s talk about now.
I suppose I’m a member of the target demographic for this thing; I got my first driver’s license in 1982, which was the Golden Age for cheap Detroit muscle in California, and the car stuff from Dazed and Confused might as well have been a documentary about the street-race-obsessed car culture at my high school. Battered-but-fast 10-to-15-year-old big-block Chevelles and Satellites and Fairlanes could be had for not much more than a grand. Back then, I tried to imagine what it would have been like to buy a new Cutlass 442 or Super Bee… and now Detroit can sell me the much faster, much better-built 21st-century version.
Right. So, what does this car do best? Burnouts! In all of my many years blowing the treads off junkyard bias-plies and rental-car rubber, I never experienced any vehicle that makes perfect, totally controlled burnouts anywhere near as easy as this car does. I’m willing to bet cash money that Chrysler’s engineers made this feature a design priority, and they deserve a healthy bonus for succeeding so admirably. This car had the automatic transmission, which made burnouts easier, but I have a feeling that the manual-trans car has no problem in that department. I also tried some hard drag-style launches and the car hooked up quite well; it wouldn’t be much of a trick to knock out some good dragstrip passes in this machine.
Seriously, you can create elaborate burnout novels with the Challenger SRT8… character development, climax, resolution, the works. The folks at Autobahn Country Club were kind enough to let me use their skidpad for a tire-smokin’ photograph session, and the clouds of tire smoke completely obscured the entire paddock, a quarter-mile downwind. I heard later that the smogged-out LeMons racers were cheering the car’s amazing burnout performance, and several were heard to state that they’d be visiting their nearest Dodge dealership and shopping for Challengers as soon as the race was over.
Unfortunately, the Challenger-as-Judgemobile got upstaged by a far superior Showroom-Schlock Shootout Judgemobile. Let’s face it: when a LeMons judge gets the choice between a 2012 Challenger SRT8 and a Reliant Super Robin for leading the penalty parade, there is no choice but to take the Reliant.
We did put both of them on the track as co-pace cars, which I feel certain is the first time a Robin and a Challenger have served together in that role.
Judge Sam agreed with me that the Challenger SRT8 was far nicer for real-world driving duties (i.e., driving between the hotel and the race track) than the Escalade Platinum had been. So, burnouts aside, how is it to drive?
The front seats are very comfortable and the quality of materials in the interior is quantum leaps ahead of the “unfit for human consumption” interiors that so horrified Sergio Marchionne. The suspension did a fine, Renault/Mercedes-Benz-style job of smoothing out the Stalingradian pothole-O-rama road surfaces in Chicago and Joliet. I’m sure I could take one of these things on an exurban-edge-city commute for hours every day and feel pretty good about the ride and comfort.
Granted, it’s something of an ergonomic disaster. You can’t see diddly-squat behind you, with the vast C pillars creating maddeningly huge blind spots. Your hands obscure the turn-signal indicators when they’re on the steering wheel. The back seat is all but useless; maybe it could hold a couple of small adults, but you won’t be able to get them into the seats in the first place (I gave up even on putting my LeMons Supreme Court bribe booze in the back seat, opting instead for the trunk). The lid for the center-console storage compartment can’t be operated by human hands.
The controls for the navigation/audio features are frustratingly unintuitive, with the lengthy response time for input that seems to be the norm for automotive computer interfaces. Why a $90 cellphone made by Malaysian sweatshop inmates can produce instant results from four memory-hog applications simultaneously while a simple choice of song title brings a $48,000 car’s computer to its knees is beyond me.
But who gives a shit about nickel/dime irritants like that? Not me! More burnouts!
In fact, I should be reviewing this automobile for the pages of Gnarly Burnout Magazine. Wooooooooooo!
Detroit has really lost its way in some areas over the last few decades, but not when it comes to V8 engines. GM and Chrysler are making some miraculously good pushrod V8s these days, and this 392-cubic-inch/470-horsepower powerplant isn’t even a member of the same species as the rough-idling, non-cold-starting, clattery, single-digit-MPG relics of the so-called Muscle Car Golden Age. This engine starts up instantly, idles in most civilized fashion, manages highway fuel mileage well into the 20s… and manages to drag a two-ton-plus car down the quarter-mile in under 13 seconds.
Speaking of tons, the big-block ’70 Challenger scaled in at nearly 3,800 pounds, so we can’t be too hard on the ’12 SRT8 version for weighing more than 4,200 pounds. Still, I can’t help but think of the two ways in which Chrysler might have built The Greatest Mopar Of All Freakin’ Time instead of a flawed-but-lovable burnout-king commuter car. The first way would have been to put this engine in a car weighing 2,900 pounds. We can all think of a dozen reasons why this could never happen, but just imagine it.
The other way would have been to use the 1971 Plymouth Satellite instead of the ’70 Challenger as retro-inspiration, bringing the Plymouth marque out of retirement if necessary. I’d buy one right now.
Image source: Old Car Brochures
As for handling and brakes and all that stuff them decadent Yurpeans seem to care about so much, I didn’t get a chance to take the Challenger out on the Autobahn CC road course, nor did I pound it at 11/10ths on the mean streets of Joliet. It seemed perfectly competent at my usual 3/10ths pace. Anyway, you don’t buy this car for going around corners, commie (though Baruth managed to do pretty well with the ’11 at Infineon).
Yep.
The LeMons Supreme Court decided that there was one way in which the Challenger made a superior Judgemobile: as the centerpiece of the Hair Of The Dog Air Guitar Penalty. Miscreant drivers were required to air-guitar their way through the entirety of Nazarath’s Challenger-centric Hair of the Dog, while waving a large American flag.


Look upon our works, wannabe superpowers, and despair.
Nazareth, a Hemi, and “AMERICAN MADE” tattooed on your back. Chrysler should hire this guy as their spokesman.
As for the quality of the little bits and pieces in out-of-the-way places, all the connectors and fasteners that I could find looked to be several notches above the quality of the parts I’ve seen in Chrysler products of a few years back. It appears that the days of the sub-low-bidder vendors may be over.
There were a few mildly flaky touches, such as this Neon-style weatherstrip seam, but nothing that felt like it was about to snap off in one’s hand.
The verdict: On the one-dimensional side, well-built, engine absolutely top notch. Would make a good real-world daily driver. King of the Smoky Burnouts.

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108 Comments on “Review: 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    That would be the Challenger SRT8, of course, in Vanishing Point white.

    Too bad it didn’t come with an updated version of Honda Girl although I guess those suede seat inserts wouldn’t have taken bodily fluids very well.

    I understand these cars but I’d still rather have one of the orginals. The V6 Challenger would be more appealing if the car wasn’t so HEAVY.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “Too bad it didn’t come with an updated version of Honda Girl although I guess those suede seat inserts wouldn’t have taken bodily fluids very well.”

      Ewww…no further comment.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      Methinks that thou hast missed the point. The Pentastar is a perfectly servicable modern engine. But compared to the current Hemi, it just pales. I’ve driven a number of new Mopars/Jeeps with both engines and the Hemi is just magic. This car is pointless without the Hemi.

      And, as the former owner of a ’71 440 Challenger, I would *much* rather have this car. As awful as Mopar interiors got in the last decade, the interiors of 70s Mopars makes them seem like spare-no-expense palaces. The huge hollow doors of my ’71 coupled with the molded plastic door panels sounded like empty beer kegs falling off a truck each time the door was closed.

  • avatar
    jco

    Two Lane Blacktop is such an incredible movie. just the crash/bang/whine of all the mechanical stuff when you’re riding along in that ’55

  • avatar
    Spartan

    This car is meant for hooligans engaging in shenanigans. It just begs to buy tires for it every other month.

    I guess there’s a reason for that, because it handles like poo so there’s not much reason to do much else with it.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      No, this car does not handle “like poo.” I’ve driven one. It’s no BMW 3-series or 911, but it gets around corners quite well.

    • 0 avatar
      rassleJames

      Like “poo” ey?… my stable is going to be enriched by the 2012 triple black SRT 392 and I have driven 2 of them.. it will have good company in my garage, 2008 612 Scag, 2012 650Xi, 2012 535Xi, 2005 645I, X3, X5, 335I convert, along with a number of other driving machines and frankly, outside the howl of the big v12 in the Scag, nothing even comes close to the sound and feel of the hemi. Cornering? will easily navigate the city streets at something short of breakneck speeds and far quicker than you will get away with when Johnny Law is watching.. Might not out corner any of the Bimmers, but an amazingly fun car to drive..

    • 0 avatar
      blueduster

      are you kidding me? i just wish they would shed 500lbs from the car. but what it is, it handles better than any thing else on the planet that weighs over 4000lbs.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    that weatherstripping would have a german engineer liquidating his bowels.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Great review!

    I’ve driven the new-gen muscle cars, and yeah, the Challenger is probably no match for a properly set up Camaro or Mustang, but not by much, and for sheer old-school, bad-boy swagger, nothing on the road can touch it. Cinematically speaking, if the Mustang is “Bullitt,” the Challenger is Dirty Harry.

    I drove the “old” SRT-8 Challenger (in Hemi Orange, natch) and it was an absolute hoot – burying the accelerator got you a killer smoky burnout, accompanied by a God-pounding “Days of Thunder” soundtrack. All you needed was Robert Duvall reminding you that rubbin’ is racin’. It was easy to tell this car wasn’t going to match up well with a Mustang on the track, but tradeoff is exactly what Murilee mentioned – it’s big, relaxed, spacious, and very easy to live with.

    I’d sell a kidney for the 392.

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    “nor did I pound it at 11/10ths on the mean streets of Joliet” Good thing too as there are more police on Joliet streets than anywhere else that I’ve ever been (and that is no exaggeration).

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I rode around enough in the originals (not Hemi’s though) to know that I want one of these new versions. The originals were great fun, but this is a 21st century driving machine. This bad boy will b!tch-slap the original everywhere, every place, every time and it will look better doing it, too.

    I know the ZL-1, Shelby and a host of others are better/faster/cleaner/holier than this tank, but Whiskey Tango Foxtrot… There’s nothing else like it.

    Just don’t let my wife see this, she’ll sell off her good jewelry to get one…

    • 0 avatar

      A four-cylinder Camry will annihilate most 60s muscle cars. There’s really no comparison between the 21st-century versions and the originals.

      That said, I would have more fun in a 340/4-speed Dart GT than I would in this car.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        “That said, I would have more fun in a 340/4-speed Dart GT than I would in this car.”

        Ha ha ha! That’s because it’s a NEW car and not a 15-year-old beater!

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        15 years ago was 1996. The last 340 A-body sold in the US was a 1973 model.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        @CJinSD:

        I was referring to MM’s 1965 Imp project car. Probably erroneous with the 15-year time frame, though.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I was just sharing the joy that is feeling really old.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Murilee: I had a ’75 Dart Sport 360. It was some fun, but not nearly as much as it might imply. But either car would be way more fun than a Camry.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        1968 Barracuda 340 Torqueflite. Upper Sackville Speedway, July 1969.

        14.23 @ 103

        A four cylinder Camry will beat that? Not even the V6, methinks. And only 275 advertised hp in the Barracuda. My Volvo’s best time was a 17.97 and felt like a forklift truck to drive compared to my pal’s ‘Cuda. He’d owned a Volvo before that, which made me buy one. Felt betrayed, as only the young can over something so trivial. Still, he wasn’t happy, because a guy in a Dart 340 with those weird half-treaded drag tires did consistent 13.80s. Can’t remember if that was auto or 4 speed, but remember his launches to this day. The car sort of stood up at the rear on its leaf springs and rocketed away.

        That 340 was an amazing engine if you could get it to start after a heat soak. BTW, haven’t been to a drag strip since!

      • 0 avatar
        Diesel Fuel Only

        A 1958 Aston Martin DB4 GT could do a quarter-mile in 13.8 and reach 60 MPH in 6 seconds.

        A 1969 Merc. 300SEL 6.3 – as Baruth pointed out, a car about the size and weight of an Acura TL – will do a quarter mile in 14.2 (well they did when they were new) and depending on rear diff. ratio can reach 144 MPH. This with 300 HP and 350 lb. ft. of torque.

        Pneumatic leveling, power everything, independent rear suspension and disc brakes all around were standard, as was a price tag equal to a mansion.

        By my calculation this STR8 gets 73 HP and 73 lb ft. of torque per litre of displacement.

        My Golf TDI 2.0, which has an ovoid combustion chamber at the top of each piston (does that make it a Hemi, too?), makes 70 HP and 119 lb ft of torque per litre of displacement.

        The HP + Torque of the STR8 divided by the displacement is 146.87.

        The HP + Torque divided by the displacement of a VW TDI is 189.50.

        Back when it was new, the original Vette made less horsepower, was 40 mph slower max. and got worse fuel mileage from a 4.5 litre V-8 than the 300SL got from a 3.0 litre I-6.

        I’d say things haven’t changed all that much.

    • 0 avatar
      rochskier

      Your wife sounds like an awesome lady if she would part with expensive jewelry to secure one of these outstanding machines!

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @rochskier: I’ll send her your compliments! However, if we don’t get serious about putting money away for retirement, I will never quit working… EVER!

        Like many other folks, I have other things I have to pay down before I get into another car…

        Besides, we live near a huge Chevy dealership who sells their own private-labeled SLP-modified Camaro. Everytime she sees one of those we have that whole discussion again…

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    …start chanting teary-eyed Pledges of Allegiance to a fiery sky full of imaginary F-111s.

    …in a car built in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.

    Oh, and it’s paesan, as in paesano. And the Torinese (and Piedmontese mangia-polentas in general) don’t make with the capisce. That’s a southern thing.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    I like performance (handling, braking, accelerating) but this whale has no interest for me due to its weight, its bulk, its bad sight lines, its small trunk, and its small back seat. This car’s capabilities (performance, passenger space, trunk space) could have been achieved in 3400 lbs. What’s the extra 800 lbs for, other than to let engineers be lazy (and the company be cheap)?

  • avatar
    Zackman

    “Vanishing Point” was pretty cool in its time, but “Two-Lane Blacktop” was plum-awful and James Taylor was worse. “THX-1138″ was ‘way better.

    At least “Vanishing Point” had the music of Delaney & Bonnie!

    • 0 avatar
      drylbrg

      But Two Lane Blacktop had James Taylor and Dennis Wilson. Not to mention a clapped out blown ’55 Chevy and a GTO. Winner: Blacktop.

    • 0 avatar
      Zombo

      I agree Vanishing Point was far and away the better movie . It had humor , plenty of action , and lives on in other movies like the 1997 tv movie remake (unfortunately not a good one) and the 2007 Tarantino movie Death Proof . And on the dvd flip side is the Canadian version with a cut scene (from the American version) of then hot foreign actress Charlotte Rampling as a hitchhiker symbolizing death who gets a lift from Kowalski .

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RpPRFkiFzo

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VePpNvzY218&feature=related

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      It’s worth noting that the black ’55 Chevy in Two-Lane Blacktop was also the one driven by Harrison Ford in American Graffiti.

  • avatar

    Dear Sir,

    Please find enclosed a cheque for 12.99, my subscription fee for a year’s worth of Gnarly Burnout Magazine. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

    Sincerely,
    David Suzuki.

  • avatar
    John R

    Woo! That c-pillar is terrifying.

    • 0 avatar

      You’d get used to it. People got used to the Countach’s lack of rear visibility, after all.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Moslty by parking and then using them as decorations.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        People also bought Mustangs from ’69 through ’73. The challenger at least has a rear window that faces rearwards…

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Only the Sportsroof models didn’t have a useful rear window, and those cars didn’t sell in big numbers. The hardtops and convertibles kept their sensible greenhouses, and sales of ’71-’73 were still pathetic compared to more practically proportioned earlier Mustangs:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1964-1973_graph.png

        Sales went back up to about 300,000 in 1974, with the arrival of the Mustang II.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        Well, someone still bought them, thankfully not so many.(I always thought it was silly to put a sunroof over the rear seatback :P)
        I don’t know what kind of sales they are going for with the Challenger, but I think most will forgive the C-post when weighed against street presence. I’ve seen one in real life (I wasn’t expecting to see any of these in Norway at all) And it hurt my neck and I almost drove straight into a roundabout without looking forward :P

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    You sir, win the internets.

    (in reply to BrendanMac’s post above; TTAC’s forum software does not win awards)

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    First, I love how you nit-pick the little bits.

    When we went car shopping the Challenger wasn’t even on our list of “pony” cars. First and foremost, we didn’t have V8 money to spend, and I’m not sure what the wife wouldn’t of done with that much power anyways. The V6 Challenger, is just so big, bloated, and doesn’t seem right. So we got a new Mustang.

    I’m not sure if I like the bloated looks even, and that interior is light years behind the competition. But beyond that, the bread and butter cars are the base models, with the small engines.

  • avatar
    John W. Sweatt

    Great review, Murrilee!

    I was looking for a slighty used V8 American musclecar for an upcoming cross-country trip I have planned and did a lot of research. Most every test I read about the Challenger said that it was a great car for long trips on the highway – very relaxed cruising in top gear, with a generous trunk compared to the competition. Those reviews also said that the Challenger was the most faithful reproduction of a musclecar yet, with its large size and ponderous handling compared again to the Mustang & Camaro.

    Alas, 6 speed manual Challengers for around $25K were hard to find near me so I had to settle for a Mustang GT. ;)

  • avatar
    LeadHead

    Is this the one with the magnetically adjustable suspension, or is that the 2013s?

  • avatar
    phargophil

    I don’t have a new 392 but I do have a 2009 R/T Challenger. I sat in the Mustang and instantly became claustrophobic. I sat in a new Camaro and adjusted the seat to a comfortable driving position that would also offer “some” visibility and my head hit the headliner.

    Yes the back seat is not huge in the Dodge, but it is limo-luxurious compared to the Ford or Chevy. There is a very usable trunk with an adequate opening, quite unlike the Camaro’s porthole.

    I also found the interior a little dull, but it certainly beat the Playskool playground of the Chevy.

    One doesn’t see a Challenger at every other street corner as is the case with the Mustang. Many people like just a bit of exclusivity.

    I’m fairly certain that most people who buy a muscle/pony car don’t race them, they just want a sporty car that can GO when it’s desired. I’m glad that the Mustang and Camaro are on the market, but for my desires, Dodge fills the bill.

    • 0 avatar
      smokingclutch

      Agreed. I’ve mostly been a buyer of Japanese sporty and sports cars (Civic Si, RX-7, RX-8, etc.) but after having driven all three muscle cars, I ended up with a 2010 Challenger R/T Classic. I got a 2010 so I could get Hemi Orange, even though the 2011s supposedly handle better. The cost difference to an SRT wasn’t worth it with the old 6.1L, and I couldn’t find an orange one at that late date anyway.

      The Challenger just seemed the most authentic muscle car. I think people mistakenly compare it to the other pony cars – this is really more like an old big-block Chevelle, Olds 4-4-2, or Buick GSX. It handles competently if you’re not a track fiend.

      Really, what Chrysler ought to do is do a rebodied luxury version as an Imperial. It really has the driving feel to fit a large luxury copue.

  • avatar
    imag

    That was a great fucking review.

  • avatar
    Ian Anderson

    White Dodge with a bad ass pushrod V8, spins around at will, and you’re in Illinois… Hit it.

    @AMC_CJ: I agree on the nit-picking, all the little tech bits are awesome to see in the review.

  • avatar

    The pace cars: lmao

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    LOL @ the weatherstrip comment. Before reading the comment I looked at the picture and instantly remembered having to put that damn strip back in place everytime I took my hockey equipment bag out of my old Neon.

  • avatar
    Loser

    I’d love to have one of these along with a Shelby and a ZL1. IMHO B5 blue was the best color on these but they no longer offer it. I’m not a fan of white cars but it does look good on this one.

  • avatar
    Nick

    ‘stand by helplessly as it gets T-boned by some LeMons racer’s runaway Winnebago’

    Huh? Did I miss something?

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    I would never want to be seen in this thing. Ditto for the shelby mustang and the camaro ss.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    In the April issue of Mopar Action Tech Editor Rick Ehrenberg took one of the first 392 Challengers to the dragstrip and made seven runs. He brought along a set of drag radials, but could not use them because he forgot the special lugnuts needed to mount them. The car averaged a 12.38 @ 110, with a best time of 12.29 @ 111.
    If that porker was 4-500 lbs. lighter it would definitely be a high 11 second car. This was the 6 speed model.
    Although I am not into the road course type racing this hog handles much better than one would think, given it’s portly size and weight.
    Check out this mont’s issue of Mopar Action. They took a blue automatic equipped 392 on the Spectre 341 Challenge in Nevada on Nevada Sate Highway 341 It is a 5.2 mile course with 22 turns, 15 of them blind and alot of them have absolutely zero runoff with 500 ft. dropoffs.
    There were alot of exotic cars in the race, many of them driven by big time car mag guys. The Challenger was driven by resident road racer Kevin Wesley who only drove at 85% of his capability in the interest of keeping the challenger’s sheetmetal wrinkle free.
    To make a long story short the Challenger beat every ZO6 vette, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Shelby Mustang, Cadillac CTS-V and a bunch of other stuff that it wasn’t supposed to beat. It came in 12th overall, many of the cars in the race used DOT approved race tires and the Challenger was running on the factory issued rubber.
    Kevin Wesley said “give me about 10k in mods, or better yet give me a 6 speed and a set of tires and we would have kicked more cars to the curb. Everyone including the guys from Mopar Action were amazed at how well the car performed on the course.
    And dude, a 4 cylinder Camry is no match for a 60′s musclecar, not even a slower one. What will a 4 cylinder Camry do in the quarter, 17′s-18′s?

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      A stock 2.5 Camry should be able to do the 1/4 mile in roughly 16 seconds, so it’s hardly a big block killer (a 383 Challenger will do it in around 14). On the other hand, when facing a turn at more than 60mph it won’t shred it’s tires from its front wheels, or set fire to it’s drum brakes. I suspect a Camry v6 will take care of most ‘not-top of the line’ musclecars, especially on a track, with tires that were available at the time of production that is.
      And no, this is by far not a compliment to Toyota, or an attack on classics, it’s just 40 years of evolution.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      I just thought of something – wonder how a 1965 Barracuda with that little 273 V8 would stack up to this thing? This from the standpoint of a 46-year-old memory of three of us getting a ride in one of my buddy’s older brother who owned one, and at the time, we got the ride of our 14-year-old lives!

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      I just thought of something – wonder how a 1965 Barracuda with that little 273 V8 would stack up to this thing? This from the standpoint of a 46-year-old memory of three of us getting a ride in one of my buddy’s older brother who owned one, and at the time, we got the ride of our 14-year-old lives!

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Mopar sales brochure magazine only proved that a good driver in a slow car can beat a poor driver in a fast car. A Z06 is much, much faster around a track than a 392. At C&D’s Lightning Lap event in 2008, even a basic Z51 C6 Vette lapped VIR 15 seconds faster than the SRT-8, and the performance difference between the Z06 and the Z51 is greater than that between the old SRT-8 and the new 392. Here are their thoughts:

      “At 4146 pounds, the Challenger was 95 pounds lighter than the Charger, but nonetheless, the driver never, ever ceases to be aware of its mass, aggravated by numb steering. And the automatic transmission didn’t help, either. We’d hoped for a manual model, available for ’09, which would have made a difference. But even so, if the Audi S5 isn’t overjoyed to be on a racetrack, the Challenger is downright miserable.”

  • avatar
    rochskier

    This thing is almost perfect, but it’s a shame that Chrysler couldn’t keep the weight in the 3900-4000 lb range.

    The only other nitpick I see is the wiring harness photo. On a car this special the individual wires should have supplemental heatshrink over their jackets to provide additional protection from abrasion and the elements.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Zyko, 383 powered B body cars were typically mid 14 second cars off the showroom floor. Minor tuning, a set of headers and sticky rubber would normally get one into the 13′s. I don’t recall what a 383 powered E body would do, and I don’t know if I have any road tests of one, but they probably ran similar times to the B bodies since they were close in weight.

    • 0 avatar

      According to Car & Driver, the ’70 Challenger with 426 Hemi did the quarter-mile in just over 14 seconds. No doubt it would have been a second or so quicker with slicks. I doubt the 383, with nearly 100 fewer horses, could have done much better than 15 flat… but someone needs to find some road tests from back in the day.

      Anyway, a ’65 Valiant with a built 340 and a good driver would have eaten up any factory E body.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        I’m sure the 383 wouldn’t be much slower, as the rear tires would have some more chance to actually drive the tires forward rather than just make smoke.
        I believe I read once that the ’67 Shelby GT500KR was barely a second faster that the GT350, mostly because the KR’s quartermile was really a quartermile burnout. :)

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Zackman, I have a road test for the 66 formula S with the 235 horse 273 and auto trans. 0-60 in 8.9 seconds and 16.5 @ 84 mph in the quarter.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      @Moparman426W:

      Man, am I late on this one! Thanks for that info. My ride in that car made me a Chrysler fan for life (second to Chevy, though). That and the fact I grew up in various Plymouths and Dodges.

      The ‘Cuda I rode in had a 4-speed and did quite the job as I described above! First impressions stay with you, and the Barracudas were among my favorite cars of the sixties.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I will dig through my stuff and see if I can find any tests of an E body. I just found one for a 69 383 torquflite equipped 383 Super Bee. January 69 Car and Driver. 0-60 5.6 seconds. Quarter mile in 14.04 @ 99.55 mph. Tops speed (estimated) 129 MPH. It had a
    3.55 gear.

  • avatar

    I sold one of these last year in the same color – fully loaded.

    I like the Challenger, but the lack of the UCONNECT TOUCH system makes it a definite loser to the Challenger. I’m putting my money on the new 300cSRT8. I do, however, prefer the looks of the new Charger.

  • avatar

    The weatherstrips, the trunk padding and the visible wiring harnesses are things that chrysler hasn’t improved. I still love their cars with a passion, but, they really need to improve this aspect.

    As for the 392 engine 0 which I’ve driven in the 300, Charger and Jeep, It lacks the meanness of the 6.1L, but, it has more grunt and more growl once you smoke off the line. I think its pretty hard to even concentrate in the car with all that engine noise.

    AND FORGET ABOUT FUEL ECONOMY. These cars are so big and so heavy that even the cylinder deactivation doesn’t save you from the $1000 gas guzzler fee or combined mileage under 15mpg unless you spend your time on nothing more than highways.

    • 0 avatar
      smokingclutch

      I average low 20s in my admittedly 345ci (5.7L) Challenger R/T 6-speed. I’ve gotten as high as 26 mpg on a long highway trip. I think the 6-speeds due a lot better than the automatics. Despite not having cylinder deactivation, they have a 0.50:1 top gear.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    So far I have not found anything in my endless pile of stuff on a Hemi powered E body. I ran across a test of a 71 hemi/torqueflite equipped charger super bee with a 4.10 axle. It did 0-60 in 5.7 seconds and covered the quarter mile in 13.73 @ 104 mph in the December 1970 issue of Motor Trend.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    66 Nova SS, 275 horse 327, powerglide with 3.31 gear. July 1966 Motor Trend 0-60 8.6 quarter mile 16.4 @ 85 mph. The powerglide was what hurt it.
    67 Camaro 325 horse 396 powerglide, axle not listed. 0-60 6 seconds flat quarter mile 14.5 @ 95 mph.
    66 GTO 389 4 speed 3.08 gear 0-60 6.8 quarter mile 15.4. Car Life Magazine, month not listed.
    68 442 400 360 horse turbo 400 3.42 gear. 0-60 6.7 quarter mile 15.3 @ 95mph Dec 67 Motor Trend.
    68 L88 427 vette 3.31 gear 4 speed quarter mile 13.56 @ 111 mph. Hot Rod month not listed.
    71 Doge Demon sport 340 torqueflite axle not listed. 0-60 6.5 quarter mile 14.49 @ 98.25 mph January 70 Motor Trend.
    Motor Trend test of 3 cudas in 1970, month not listed. 340 torqueflite 0-60 6.4 quarter mile 14.5 @ 96 mph.
    440 4 speed 0-60 5.9 quarter mile 14.4 @ 100 mph.
    Hemi/torqueflite 0-60 5.8 quarter mile 14.0 @ 102 mph. No gear sizes listed for any of the cars.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    69 Road Runner. Hemi/torqueflite, 3.54 gear 0-60 5.1 quarter mile 13.54 @ 105.14 mph. Car and Driver, month not listed.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Those old musclecar performance numbers really need to be taken with a grain of salt. The cars typically weren’t normal production units taken off the line, but often were special press cars specifically tuned for the magazines. One of the most famous was a 1970 Buick GNX that Motor Trend managed to get some unbelievably fast times out of.

      In addition, Car and Driver was notorious for using every trick in the book to get the best times. They epitomized the old drag racer axiom “Drive it like you were mad at it”, employing aggressive, hardcore techniques like power braking and shifting. The other, more mainstream rags tended to granny shift and test the cars more in line with how someone would drive if they had to pay to get it fixed if they broke it. Hence, their performance results were more realistic.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I like the car, but it’s kind of like going to a KISS concert in 2011.

    Maybe they can hand one over to the Viper team and see if they could engineer out some of the road trip refinement (and price).

    Or, maybe just drop the 392 into a Charger Pursuit and offer that to the public as the Charger Express?

  • avatar
    rudiger

    At least Dodge finally got the engine call-outs right with CID identification and the proper, front-fender location.

    It seemed like the solitary ‘HEMI’ emblem on the R/T’s hood (or anywhere else on any other vehicle, be it the Charger or pickup) was a tad disingenious without the engine size.

    OTOH, maybe ’345 HEMI’ didn’t have the correct sound to it.

  • avatar
    rwb

    Echidna’s Arf is my favorite song on that album, maybe next to Foosh.

    Eat The Rich seems like a strange segue though.

  • avatar
    BoredOOMM

    I am loving the hand print on the driver’s seat. Is that homage to the 66 Impala?

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Rudiger, those times were pretty typical of what those cars ran from the factory. Most owners tweaked them and installed better tires and got better times from them.
    There alot of mostly stock old musclecars at the strip today that run much quicker times with modern tires. The manufacturers normally did make sure that the test cars were top notch though, and they were more carefully built than an everyday assembly line versions. Pontiac did actually outright lie and cheat with the 64 GTO used in the car and driver test, They slipped in a 421 that was tuned by Royal Bobcat, yet let everyone think it was a 389. Jim wangers confirmed that a few years back.

  • avatar
    AJ

    If I had the garage space, I’d go buy one and keep it forever. That car will be as classic as a ’70 Challenger is today. Probably never to be made again either?

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I’m with you AJ. If I bought one I would have to mortgage the house, and I already know that the wife would not go for it.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    My 2010 Challenger R/T (Hemi Orange, of course) is the favorite of all the cars and trucks I’ve ever owned. Depending on what happens in the future, if the Challenger dies in 2014 or not, I plan on getting another one, a 392, if possible. If not, the R/T is quick enough (13.34)for me.

  • avatar
    KrisT

    Ahh the plastic pig. I must admit that despite a great love for small cars I have always hated the things with an unbridled passion.

    For example that stupid hatch for acessing the engine made it look like a toy. The harsh raucous sounding engine the hatch hid. The fact they used the wheels of a mini (They might as well have slapped Issigonis in the face with a fish) The fact they wouldn’t die…Corrosion was limited to the chassis and they were driven by older misers who never drove far so they lasted an irritatingly long time.

    Cant say I was thrilled with driving experience either. The brakes were staggeringly poor. The fact they were operating on too few wheels probably didnt help. Awkward driving position due to the tapering nose. Potholes couldnt be avoided due to the wheel layout.
    Reverse rather close to second so could be accidentally engaged whilst in forward motion. General feeling of instability and a massive feeling of vulnerability. I only drove it once.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    This is a really beautiful sexy car on the outside. It is really boring on the inside. sigh. I’d need to keep a pic of it with me so I could look at it while driving.

    And its HUGE, damm, its gigantic, like someone blew it up for a thanksgiving day parade balloon. Also, it NEEDS to be a ragtop.

    A huge engine in Philadelphia where i live, along with sheer size of this car make it impractical for me, and others too i expect – its a rare sight here, but always a welcome one. It IS sexy.

    Does Chrysler still own the Javelin name? i liked that car better then the Cryco products.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    I don´t need to read this article. A flagwaving fool and destruction of tires? It tells that this is not a car for sane people. No thanks.

  • avatar
    super8man

    If you are thinking about buying this car and worry about crap like “blind spots,” “Interior LED lighting options” and “gas mileage” then, step off. This car is NOT for you. Get over it. Go back to Toyota or Honda.

    I bought the 2012 6-speed R/T in Bright White and LOVE IT. OMG. As this article correctly points out, the “good ol days” were really piss poor old days where everyone had to “tune” their muscle cars on a weekly basis to keep them operating. I know, I did that.

    Fast forward to today. The Challenger got it right. Heck, they got it so right that if I had of been in their “focus group” I probably would have screwed it up by asking for cupholders, and other crap that does not matter. And somehow they still gave me 27MPG on the freeway in real measurements by my driving. (Shhh – the Prius owners don’t need to know.)

    Am I alone in loving the sport roof Mustangs from 1971-1973? Bahaha… Yeah, I remember how bad interiors really used to be and oh the colors. I never knew vinyl could be made into so many awful tones. Fast forward to today and we moan and cry when our ipod with 3000 songs won’t sync to the radio. Are you kidding me? Step off.

    Thank you Chrysler. The happiest day of my life was buying this car and driving it home to the soundtrack from Vanishing Point with tunes from Delaney & Bonnie and Mountain, amongst others. I’ve waited a long time for this. It was worth it.

    “Excuse me while I drive over you and do a burnout on your hood.”

  • avatar

    3 wheel car if it really run through rd. it cant sustain long

  • avatar
    gwood39617

    super8man summed all of this up perfectly. this car was made for people who really enjoy driving, people who still like the feel of a manual tranny in the right hand,….all others go back to Toyota

    I traded in a sweet Nissan 350z on this badboy, I never looked back, this car has an undeniable presence that has not been seen in 40yrs.

  • avatar
    Burnout

    Mr Martin Dude…I’m thinking you were quite burned-out when you wrote this “review”…please tell us all what you were smoking before, during and after (yeah, tires are excluded)…

  • avatar
    blueduster

    these cars are the best combo of performance and real world driving. they handle spectacularly considering how heavy they are. the back seat will fit a 6’1″ male(done that first hand)with another 6’2″ male driving. the charger is even more comfortable for rear passengers. the srt8 392 runs 12.4-7 in the 1/4 and pulls about .9g on the skid pad. stops from 60 in 115ft. runs the race road course much better than anything that heavy has any business doing. basically there is nothing else like them on the road. not for anything close in money anyways. some of the german super sedans might perform as well but at what cost?

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    And honestly, what 392 challenger buyer cares about handling anyway? The main reason they want it is for the the power and the “in your face” looks. Even though it’s based on mercede’s architecture there is absolutely nothing related to AMC, renault of mitsubishi in the design. The rear suspension is a mercedes design, but the front suspension is actually chrysler, its the double wishbone setup from the cloud cars that dates back to 95. It’s an excellent design.

  • avatar
    mr.auto

    I worked at a track in the late 70′s and saw many stock Muscle cars,even owned some.

    Remember old Mopars especially big blocks spun like crazy,even from a 20 mph roll ! The track they spun past 60 ft mark,you had to not floor it on take off then 20-25 mph you floor it,so you wasted 2 or more seconds doing that,not like my new 2011 Challenger r/t you floor it and it hooks like no old car does with a 4bbl factory hipo engine !

    A 383 2 bbl,single exhaust,lower compression and different heads from a 383 4bbl or 383 hi po Magnum,Super Commando and the 2.76 axle would run 14.8 as tested back in the day !Thathad next to no wheel spin !

    FYI 383 2bbl had lower compression/different heads as does the 383 4bbl (more than 5 hp bump from 383 4bbl and 383 magnum but on paper it was)and hipo 383 hotter cam/heads/carb than the 383 4bbl !

    A 383 4bbl is a solid 13 second ride,440′s were 12-low 13′s in the 1/4 with nothing more than 3.54 rear axle. Bone Stock 426 Hemi’s were high 11′s with slicks and headers !

    318 cars ran mid 15′s..Heck my buddy had a stock 68 Chrysler 300 440 T.N.T that ran 13.30′s all day long,stock except 15″275 rear tires still spinnage,came with skiny 14″ magnum 500′s that would spin down the 1/4 ! 3900lb car,about the same weightas a Charger/GTX ect.

    By the way Chrysler’s always out handles GM/Ford,they were not floaty or boaty,even the big cars.And lower the front torsion bars (5 min process) it handles flat around corners and can school many newer rides around twisties if you know how to drive,as for braking as tested back in the day with skiny tires stopped from 60 mph in 126 feet (mopar b-body with front power disks)


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