By on December 2, 2013

@willstpierre tweets:

@SajeevMehta Art history teacher talked about using vellum today. Nobody else knew what it was #bringbackvellumvenom




While Ford and GM pissed away decades of heritage for horribly demure (yet disturbingly plump) full size sedans built on a namby pamby FWD globalized chassis, Chrysler took the hard points of the Mercedes-Benz W211 sedan to make America’s one and only four portal bad motherfu*ker.

Get used to this face, because it’s today’s American Bad Ass Sedan.


Pardon me while I remain infatuated with the SRT’s perfect use of subtle bends to make a seriously muscular nose. The phrase “power dome hood” has been around for decades, but this fascia earns that title many times over.


The hood and fenders meet logically, elegantly against the slender headlights. While the bulldog grille accentuates the nose’s massive flatness, the Charger SRT asserts itself like no other machine in its class.


This design feature (assuming it’s radar cruise control) is far from invisible on the Charger’s facade, but at least the horn-shaped bezel complements the lower bumper’s curvature.

The wave at the bottom of the bumper bends harmoniously with the fog light surround and the grille’s teethy edge. The high spot over the foglight needs a belt sander, but this is a super hormonal family sedan by design. And it still looks the part without being cartoonishly overstyled like a C7 Corvette.


Dodge’s signature grille looks great: the original Viper started it and kudos to Chrysler for not blowing it with a switch to something less recognizable. The four pointed grille takes on a new dimension with the honeycomb treatment inside the “star”, proving this design stands the test of time by never remaining stagnant.

If only the other American brands (except Cadillac) could make a grille design and stick with it. Too bad about that.


Brand honesty is a great thing, but a tall and flat truck-y nose is not.  This design would be amazing on the sleek beak of an old school Plymouth Fury. No matter, the face is suitably modern muscle car angry.  And the staggered headlight sizing is the icing on the cake.


There’s an oh-so-subtle straightening of the wheel well arch as it meets the aggressive flaring of the front bumper. Man, now THAT is trick.


While unstoppable on a slender ’70 Fury, the Charger SRT’s gaping maw needs the shadows of black paint to compensate for this much real estate. But still, look at the power dome hood’s hustle and flow as it sweeps to the windshield!  The number of shadows on the hood (like the hard bend at the center of the hood, and the matching bends at the ends of the fenders) shows great attention to detail on the modern muscle car theme.


So many fast, long and flowing lines.  And none fight with each other! Note the negative area needed for the hood scoop:  there’s plenty of space to make a name for itself (i.e. unique shapes) on the Charger’s vellum.

9_2Another bonus: the hood scoop’s honeycomb is wide open: no solid blocks of cheapness here.

9_3Could this be a late 4th Generation Camaro? No matter, this gives the Charger SRT even more street cred, since the Camaro is now a plump tribute to the first generation of Chevy’s Pony Car.

10There’s a reason why that nose is painted black: it’s huuuuuge. The added contrast might remove visual bulk, but the middle band (the part below the grille, above the valence) needs body color paint instead.

11Six point four liters of REPRESENT: no greenwashed pretensions like Ford’s Ecoboost V6 (formerly and rightly called TwinPower), no excuses given. It’s just another American bad ass, right?

12With our last installment in mind, the Charger’s elegant side cove comes correct. While far cooler if the cove started on the fender (like a C5 Vette) it’s still a nice touch considering the height and visual heft of today’s sedans.

12_1Clean integration of the wiper arm and cowl cover. Nice.

The American Bad Ass has no DLO FAIL.


Such a perfect meeting of A-pillar, fender and front door! And to everyone else: how frickin’ hard is this to make?  No excuses, just do it!


Even the panel gaps are close enough to perfect. This is how you craft a sedan!

15_1The black Charger nearby highlighted the door cove’s flowing lines as it reaches the C-pillar. Sure, like all new cars, it’d be nice to section 1-3 inches of door sheet metal to lower the body and visually lengthen it…perhaps one day we will get that design aesthetic back.


Like the A-pillar, the B-pillar is sleek and clean.  The black trim always helps integrate the glass into the rest of the body: necessary when your greenhouse is sleek, fast and a bit on the skinny side.

17Not so great at the C-pillar: the greenhouse ends in a BMW-style Hofmeister Kink, but the door’s cut line refuses to play ball.  Instead of continuing the natural curve, it bends backward before repeating the kink’s curvature. Quite static and sad for a muscle car, actually.

18But there’s nothing but love for the black-chrome SRT rimz with Brembo stoppers. #wheelporn


Apparently the SRT brand has some curb (rash) appeal.  Literally.

19_1Gas filler door bisects the quarter panel with elegance and symmetry.  Nice.

19_2Aside from the usual complaints about sky-high belt lines, huge flat buffalo butts and the need for dubs to fill the gap…well, the Charger still has a nice profile.  I’d lose that spoiler in a heartbeat: it accentuates the buffalo butt.

20The door cut line and that Hofmeister kink look fine from here, even if they are too slow or static. The tapered C-pillar works well with the obligatory muscle car fastback roof line, but it’s a shame the lower half (i.e. the quarter panel) lacks tapering (inwards) to match.This touch helps tremendously in reducing automotive buffalo butt.

21Still, this sedan is a looker. The flat door handles look great, and there’s no DLO FAIL. The flat edge at the rear window gives a little muscle, keeping it from looking flabby.  Just a little more tumblehome at the B-pillar is all that’s needed for maximum style.

22 The C-pillar extends above the plane of the rear window.  Perhaps it’s a hat tip to the earlier Chargers, and perhaps it does a fantastic job keeping this area from being too flat and boring.

23But from this angle, the black plastic finish panel needs to go.  Painted metal would look much cooler.  Or just make the whole thing flush with the rear glass.

24Naaaah.  The effect is that of an American Bad Ass. Close enough to perfection for a mass-produced machine.

25An elegant backside, provided one never steps back to notice the height and bulk.

26A buffalo butt for sure, but the strong vertical cut line at the end of the tail light assembly isn’t without its charms. Too bad this Charger is so tall yet short on overhangs: more style from its 1960s forefather could complete the look.
26_1That hard vertical cut line ends rather abruptly at the base of the bumper’s sweeping bend.  A rounded edge is better than a 90-degree ending in this case.

28I don’t believe an American Bad Ass needs ‘dem fancy ‘furrin diffusers on its bumper. Because this is a bit much.


Especially considering the super clean and recognizable-from-a-mile-away tail lights.  The LED perimeter is a bit of old-school Detroit, from an era when beancounters had no say when a design studio demanded a feature, an era when insurance companies and beancounters didn’t dictate a vehicle’s design (expensive to replace full width lights)…so add the modest brand badging (aside from the dealership tattoo on top of the trunk) and the Charger SRT embodies many of the traits we love in American sedans.

In a modern tall+boxy package, sadly.  With a warranty, gladly.

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a lovely week.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!


70 Comments on “Vellum Venom: 2013 Dodge Charger SRT...”

  • avatar

    It’s as if they had been refining it since the 60’s…

  • avatar

    This car looks good in non-SRT trim, in a a dark color, and just understated in general.

    In bright SRT trim, or worse, that bright yellow abomination, it looks like a joke. Nothing classy to it, just fat and brash. Spoilers, bright colors, big wheels, diffusers and hood scoops don’t belong on a sedan; no matter how cool of a sedan it is.

  • avatar

    The Charger definitely looks good in black. I guess you could have a body shop remove that rear spoiler. I know that I would.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Naah, make the dealer do it. They can swap trunk lids with another car in about 10 minutes. The VIN sticker (if it has one) might be an issue, but you can also get the dealer to sign a letter documenting the swap.

  • avatar

    This is probably the best-looking, most American sedan built in the last generation, and one of the vehicles I’d buy new. Especially in that orange Dodge uses.

    But just as you deal in the aesthetics of design, so I like to deal in the finer points of language, and I have a question.

    Why does everything have to be “Bad Ass” these days? Why is an implication of thuggish, meat-headed criminal savagery a compliment?

    It seems like ever since Stone Cold Steve Austin first strolled into the ring with his shaved head and his Tim McGraw beard, looking like he just broke out of prison, we’ve used the term Bad Ass as a compliment.

    Personally, I’m sick of this glorification of an objectively criminal lifestyle. The tattoos, the shaved head, the whole king-of-the-cell-block, fear-me-because-I’m-a-big-scary-barbarian ethos.

    There are plenty of words to described manly, heroic, admirable behavior that would be applicable here.

    The current Charger is a GOOD thing, and it should be praised in terms of other good things. It’s strong. It’s durable. It’s beautiful. It’s powerful. It’s fast. It’s a winner.

    But it’s not a Bad Ass, because it’s not a BAD thing.

    Again, I love the car, but hate the modern world’s way of praising it.

    • 0 avatar

      Hi OneAlpha,

      I really thought Michael Jackson’s BAD changed that definition for everyone, and such “finer points of language” were lost in decades of existing within our American vernacular.

      Kinda like how Miley made Twerking a common phrase.

      Perhaps I did grow up in a ghetto-ish suburb of Houston.

      • 0 avatar

        Oh, I meant my post in the, “Why do we use the word ‘drinking’ to describe the consumption of only alcoholic beverages?” way.

        And yeah, you’re probably right about Jacko’s influence on the term. I hadn’t thought about him in particular.

        I simply assumed the standard Outlaw Biker, Stone Cold reference that people use today when they want to describe something as looking tough.

        All I’m saying is that “Bad Ass” should be an indictment, not a term of praise. It describes barbarism and savagery, and this car is anything but – it is heroic, fearsome, swift and adamantine.

      • 0 avatar
        Bark M.

        I always think of Run DMC’s quote from Peter Piper:

        “Not BAD meaning bad/but BAD meaning GOOD!”

        Bad ass article, dude.

    • 0 avatar

      The expression “Bad Ass” proceeded Steve Austin by at least a couple decades. I heard it in the mid sixties.

  • avatar

    Disagree RE: the superfluous spoilers, vents, and scoops…this isn’t JUST a sedan, like a 5-Series or an E-class or even a 300. It’s a Dodge Charger. “American Badass” is the perfect description. And as for the “furrin diffuser” not belonging, well…these only come with automatics, which means that in 2013 your Charger SRT comes with paddle shifters…you don’t get much more “furrin” than that, SON.

    Anyway, maybe being born raised in the Deep South and watching “The Dukes Of Hazzard” during my formative years instilled a bit more redneck in me than I usually care to admit, but I love this thing. If I had an extra $50k lying around I’d snag one in a heartbeat.

  • avatar

    Nice little article. Well done. Good to read some positive vibes.
    Lots of detailing in that design that goes unnoticed by the general public.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I couldn’t stand the first “new” Charger and 300, but the second ones are amazing. Chrysler Group has done an excellent job with its cars since MY2011, and it shows. The Charger, in particular, looks extremely confident and cohesive, and I love that. Plus it’s very comfortable…

  • avatar

    re: Dodge’s signature grille. Unfortunately it wasn’t the Viper that wore it first; it was the Diplomat SE in’84, then the Aries got it in ’85. The design itself was lifted from the old Chrysler 300 series.

  • avatar

    The first retro-sedan Chargers weren’t so bad visually, people cry for coupe variants yet the Challenger fills that bill.

    But much like the original ’67 Charger, purity is boring in the eyes of Detroit, so over the years a number of details are hastfully tacked on to where now the Charger looks less family cruiser and more “Yea Audis are a bit pricey, how about a V8 RWD sedan?”

    Then again we did see how creative SRT was with the Viper C7 458.

  • avatar

    Love the car, hate the “side cove.” Kept me out of buying one..

  • avatar

    Sorry Sajeev, It’s a toad. The previous edition was a toad, they tried to fix it and it’s still a toad.

    • 0 avatar

      No, a toad would be something like a Fiat 500. The Charger is okay, I can’t say it really grabs me, I like the 300 better in almost every way, except for the insanely conservative color choices.

  • avatar

    Back in 2008 I bought an Alfa Giulietta Spider from the lead designer of the 2nd gen modern Charger (meaning, this current style). He was divesting a couple of toys what with Chrysler looking to go belly-up at the time and all.

    Very cool guy who obviously loved cars and great design – besides the Giulietta he also had a C2 Corvette from his days at GM. Glad to see that Sajeev approves of his work.

  • avatar

    I washed my black 2012 R/T yesterday and I agree, it is a great design.

  • avatar

    Needs bright window reveal and chrome door handles to make it even better. IMHO of course, but I was a graphic artist once upon a time, plus I gravitate to bright, shiny objects…

  • avatar

    Whoever made those taillights happen deserves a medal.

  • avatar

    That car is BUTT ugly.

  • avatar

    I have to confess, I’m not feeling this car either. Never have. And unless my eyes are deceiving me, those cut lines might be even but are hella wide for 2013.

    However (hint, hint) a Vellum Venom feature on the Citroen XM–like the one that graced these pages the other day–would make my week.

  • avatar

    As an owner of a Charger SXT, I can agree with almost all of your comments about the SRT. Mine is pewter grey with the Performance Package – 20″ chrome wheels and the SRT’s heated and cooled seats in scarlet red leather. Slicker than the SRT (no hood bulges or rear spoiler, plus a few extra chrome accents to brighten things) my SXT is real looker.

    Along with the 300 it is the only under-$40K American RWD sedan sold currently. At a price point that undercuts similarly loaded Tauruses, Impalas, or LaCrosses by many thousands of dollars, it is inconceivable to me why anyone would buy one of those cars (or, dear God, a V6 Accord or Camry) instead of a Charger. The V6 / 8-speed combo is world class: smooth, very economical, and as fast as the first generation Hemi. UConnect is the best in the business, plus there are several available features not found in other cars in its segment. Outstanding workmanship, thoughtful details, and the use of quality materials everywhere have meant that after 25K miles my car has had zero problems or defects. Unlike a wheeled appliance such as an Accord or Camry, I genuinely look forward to the driving experience every time I get in my Charger.

    I just hope Chrysler/Fiat continues to make these proper rear wheel drive sedans long into the future.

    • 0 avatar

      You got lucky on your model year, these days I think every Charger performance package on the V6 (and there are like 4 different ones) comes with the rear spoiler.

      • 0 avatar

        It can be deleted on the order form if one desires. Personally, I’m a no spoiler guy.

        • 0 avatar

          I got a call on my GS when I had it for sale (dude clearly had no money anyway) who said he was disappointed it didn’t have the spoiler, and that if he bought he’d have to add one.

          I told him right on the phone they didn’t look good with a spoiler, lol.

  • avatar

    Sajeev, I’d like to see you take a look at the new Corvette. At first I wasn’t sure about it, but the more I see it, the better it looks.

  • avatar

    Is it wrong to want a this car… but with a Tesla-style power train?

    • 0 avatar

      No, I’ve often thought a 300C with an electric powertrain with specs similar to the model S would be a great idea. Would it make money for Chrysler? I’m not sure, but it would take at least some sales from the model S if it was priced say, at the mythical base price of the Tesla.

  • avatar

    Overall I love the look of the car, it’s even better to look at when someone else is driving it down the road.

    Ther things a I don’t like about it are the door handles. Looking at it directly from the side, it bothers me how the rear door handle is higher than the front. I’m over it however. it’s a very distinctive car which is hard to say about many vehicles these days, and that’s why it is good, even if you aren’t completely sold on all the cues.

  • avatar

    This is the most intimidating sedan on the road today. That is a good thing.

  • avatar

    It really is bad-ass in every way, even the ‘tacky’ versions. Not something you see on European roads on a daily (or even monthly )basis, but it makes everything else here look bland, wimpy and ‘cute’ in comparison.
    I may add, it is probably the only car built in the last 20 years that could need more front overhang…

  • avatar

    I love the look of this. Wish I could afford to pay the fuel bill. I’d be happy to drive an R/T the rest of my life.

  • avatar

    Couple things:

    1. Ecoboost was originally called TwinForce. A far more accurate name for a line of gas guzzling turbo engines than Ecoboost.

    2. This car as well as just about every vehicle in the Chrysler lineup proves that Chrysler has the best designers in the industry. GM is a close second and Ford cannot be helped.

    3. This car is beyond cool and perfectly designed. The only change needed is the black bumper bar needs to be body color.

  • avatar

    I prefer the cleaner look of the R/T, IMHO the SRT looks kind of chunky and tacky. Not a big fan of the wheels either. Would be cool if the 6.4 was an option for the R/T, (à la Mustang LX 5.0) but I understand why they will not do that. I’m still on the fence about a new Charger R/T, the 8 speed would seal the deal for me.
    The new C&D did a comparo between SRT8 Charger vs the SS, SS won but the Dodge was faster. My wife and I checked out a new SS over the weekend, we both liked it. Looks better in person to me, outstanding interior IMHO. The body has a bit too much chrome trim for me but I could live with it.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t like the “dainty” wheels the 300 and some Chargers have much at all. I guess they are supposed to look “elegant”, or something, but to me they look fragile and kind of effeminate. I had a 2008 Charger R/T and liked it, a lot. I like my ’10 Challenger a lot more though.

  • avatar

    Personally not a big fan of the Charger look, but I do agree that the styling is successful.

    And always happy to see a Vellum Venom on TTAC!

    • 0 avatar

      They always ALWAYS suggest rental to me. And something about the window trim isn’t the right gloss or matte. I think it needs more gloss. It disturbs the smoothness of the side design too much.

  • avatar

    You missed my favorite tiny detail — trunk release button and backup camera snuck into the ends of the CHMSL. None of the motorized VW foppery; just a sensible placement hiding in plain sight.

  • avatar

    Funny you mention a buffalo butt, as both generations of this very car are in the Grand Theft Auto series (GTAIV/V). It’s thinly restyled, and called the Buffalo.

  • avatar

    I quite liked the style of Franklin’s (GTA V) Buffalo. If Dodge released a Charger based on Franklin’s, I would be the first in line.

    …As long as I could get it in gunmetal gray metallic.

  • avatar
    Keith Tomas

    I must be one of the few people who have always found the Charger sedan ugly to the point of being offensive.

  • avatar

    Supposedly, that’s a “camera” rather than radar cruise control. It watches the road for cars that slow down in front of you too quickly and warns you with loud alarms that you have less than a second to start braking. It also goes off when it feels you’re driving too fast on uneven terrain. My 300/Jeep have it.

  • avatar

    The black one is identical to my daily driver Charger SRT8. Gonna be adding a custom tune and some drag radials in the spring to try and run some very low 12’s with it (high 11’s if I am lucky).

    Crazy part is according to the fuel efficiency computer I’ve been getting 29 MPG on the highway with it. The car does everything!

    A true Dr Jekyl – Mr Hyde in a cool wrapper.

    Regarding the rear window concave – its most certainly a hat tip to the 68-70 Chargers according to Ralph Gilles.

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • new caledonia: Nobody has mentioned William Holden’s Nash-Healy sports car in Sabrina.
  • krhodes1: They are a heck of a lot bigger than an original Caravan. Van and Commercial Van would be my take on it. A...
  • Astigmatism: Um, I don’t know who you were reading, but it was known pretty early on that Trump had every...
  • JimZ: what the hell does which side the steering wheel is on have to do with anything?
  • raph: Yeah just realized that a second ago and edited my comment below to reflect that. I wonder if there was ever a...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote


  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States