Last time we had a Challenger SRT8 to review, well, we didn’t review it so much as we burnt the rubber off the rear wheels. Sorry Dodge, we couldn’t help it. After a few Facebook requests, we put Dodge’s 470HP retro coupé back on our wish list and someone at Chrysler decided to trust me with their retro cruiser. If you couldn’t afford that Challenger in the poster on your wall when you were in college, click through the jump to find out what Dodge’s 470HP two-door is like to live with for a week before you throw down 45-large on this retro bruiser.
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. (Read More…)
Over the long haul of the Pony Car Wars, Ford’s Mustang has set the standard to which all others aspire. Having handily outsold the old F-Body Camaros (to say nothing of the nearest import-equivalent, the Nissan Z), Ford reigned alone over the declining muscle-coupe segment for much of the last decade. But the Pony Car cannot thrive alone, and the Mustang couldn’t keep its sales from sliding ever further… it needed some competition. Now, rather than fighting for pieces of a shrinking segment, the Camaro, Challenger and Mustang have been able to grow their sales together, revitalized by the renewed Pony Car Wars. Though our simple volume projection shows the Camaro on track to take the Pony Car crown from the Mustang, the short-term trends indicate a close battle to the finish this year. Hit the jump for summer sales comparisons…
Whatever you do, don’t talk about anything related to the car itself. Reference an obscure previous ad for the car instead. Also, if the car’s target market is young men, be sure to make the ad’s protagonist an elderly female. Finally, the concept must be strange enough to be totally unmemorable. Then sit back and watch as your over-the-hill muscle car doubles its volume and still doesn’t quite match the Mustang or Camaro’s volume. Success!
Well, it was no fluke. Wieden + Kennedy can sell the crap out of the Challenger. It’s just too bad that every time people see a Caliber, Avenger, Journey or Caravan, they say “Dude, I’d rather be abducted by terrorists than that thing.” Especially if they’ve taken the time to read what “those consumer review sites” think about them.
One of the strangest phenomena of the revived retro muscle car wars is the renewed emphasis on V6 performance. Once derided as “Secretary Specials,” the V6 versions of the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro now make upwards of 300 horsepower, while earning EPA highway ratings that surpass the 30 MPG mark. But if these latter-day pony cars herald a new era of performance and practicality, the V6-powered Dodge Challenger is as retro as its 1970-again styling.