The Truth About Cars » Dodge http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 20 Apr 2015 19:47:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Dodge http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Dodge Adds 1,000 Hellcats To The Assembly Line http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/dodge-adds-1000-hellcats-assembly-line/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/dodge-adds-1000-hellcats-assembly-line/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 14:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1032625 Not too long ago, Dodge had to curb new orders from dealers for both the Charger and Challenger SRT Hellcats. As of now, 1,000 more on on their way. According to Jalopnik, an anonymous source relayed the news to Hellcat.org forum, though how many of each was not mentioned: For those of you still waiting […]

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2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

Not too long ago, Dodge had to curb new orders from dealers for both the Charger and Challenger SRT Hellcats. As of now, 1,000 more on on their way.

According to Jalopnik, an anonymous source relayed the news to Hellcat.org forum, though how many of each was not mentioned:

For those of you still waiting on your VIN’s, you just may be receiving a nice little surprise in the coming days. An anonymous source tipped us this morning and said that Dodge has just scheduled an additional 1,000 SRT Hellcat’s to be built. Of those 1,000 new schedules, we did not receive any hard numbers on how many were Challengers or Chargers, but it’s definitely a huge step in the right direction and looks like Dodge is listening.

Right now, 2,200 Hellcats left the assembly line since early March. The duo have proven to be popular among those plunking down over $60,000 for the opportunity to wrangle the 707-horsepower monsters, with dealers taking so many orders that the brand had to tell them to stop until the current orders were fulfilled.

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Dodge Restricting New Hellcat Orders Until Older Orders Are Fulfilled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/dodge-restricting-new-hellcat-orders-older-orders-fulfilled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/dodge-restricting-new-hellcat-orders-older-orders-fulfilled/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 13:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1023097 Clamoring for a Dodge Challenger or Charger Hellcat? You’ll have to take a number to order one, as the brand is restricting new orders until it catches up. MotorAuthority reports the brand is doing this because so many customers want to throw down behind the wheel of the 707-horsepower, $60,000-plus boulevard bombers. Per a representative: […]

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2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Clamoring for a Dodge Challenger or Charger Hellcat? You’ll have to take a number to order one, as the brand is restricting new orders until it catches up.

MotorAuthority reports the brand is doing this because so many customers want to throw down behind the wheel of the 707-horsepower, $60,000-plus boulevard bombers. Per a representative:

Due to unprecedented demand for the 2015 Dodge Charger and Challenger SRT Hellcats, we are temporarily restricting orders while we validate current orders that are in the system.

As of now, over 9,000 orders have been placed for the Hellcats; over 2,200 have been delivered thus far.

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FCA Canada CEO: Reports Of The Grand Caravan’s Demise Are Exaggerated http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/fca-canada-ceo-reports-grand-caravans-demise-exaggerated/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/fca-canada-ceo-reports-grand-caravans-demise-exaggerated/#comments Fri, 06 Mar 2015 17:10:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1017098 Although the Chrysler Town & Country will be FCA’s main minivan nameplate going forward, the Dodge Grand Caravan will stick around longer than many people have expected. Speaking to the Windsor Star, FCA Canada CEO Reig Bigland said that the Grand Caravan would continue to be produced past the introduction of the new Town & […]

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2014_Dodge_Grand_Caravan_RT_1198940

Although the Chrysler Town & Country will be FCA’s main minivan nameplate going forward, the Dodge Grand Caravan will stick around longer than many people have expected.

Speaking to the Windsor Star, FCA Canada CEO Reig Bigland said that the Grand Caravan would continue to be produced past the introduction of the new Town & Country, stating

“The Dodge Grand Caravan is still here, it’s going to be here throughout all of 2015, 2016…I’m not going to give any time frame, but at the launch of the next-generation Town and Country we will continue to have the Grand Caravan and I have not speculated as to when or even if the Dodge Grand Caravan will go away,”

Previous comments by FCA boss Sergio Marchionne suggest that the old model Grand Caravan will disappear by 2017, as regulatory concerns will make it impossible to sell in North America. The strategy of running two different vans on two different platforms has been something that hasn’t been explored in the automotive media.

If this is indeed the case, then it would allow FCA to sell the all-new minivan with the latest technology at a more premium price point while retaining the volume that comes from selling both vans. Both vans would ostensibly be built at the Windsor, Ontario plant, with a new flexible architecture eventually accommodating an all-new crossover vehicle built on that platform.

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Junkyard Find: 2000 Dodge Intrepid R/T http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-2000-dodge-intrepid-rt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-2000-dodge-intrepid-rt/#comments Fri, 13 Feb 2015 14:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=998890 With the ’01 Saturn L200 yesterday and the ’01 Pontiac Aztek the day before that, we’re having a 21st Century Junkyard Find week. I’ll continue that with today’s find: Dodge’s high-performance version of the second-gen Dodge Intrepid: The Intrepid R/T. You got the 242-horsepower 3.5 liter V6 in this car, which was pretty decent for […]

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08 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith the ’01 Saturn L200 yesterday and the ’01 Pontiac Aztek the day before that, we’re having a 21st Century Junkyard Find week. I’ll continue that with today’s find: Dodge’s high-performance version of the second-gen Dodge Intrepid: The Intrepid R/T.
03 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou got the 242-horsepower 3.5 liter V6 in this car, which was pretty decent for a front-wheel-drive family sedan.11 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe LH platform had been around for quite a while at this point, so the novelty of the cool-looking-at-first “cab-forward” design had long since worn off by 2000.
14 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI often suggest that 24 Hours of LeMons teams run a Chrysler LH, but so far only one has shown up (and it threw a rod 100 yards into the race).

Roomy. Well-equipped. Cheap.

01 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Peak Emblem http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/vellum-venom-vignette-peak-emblem/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/vellum-venom-vignette-peak-emblem/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 16:40:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=997690   Most design students don’t consider Peak Oil in their studies, but The Reckoning was on my reading list back then. While Peak Oil is tangentially connected to car design, we clearly reached Peak Emblem. It cannot get any worse than what’s being introduced in Chicago this week. Emblem size, just like wheel size and body/firewall (versus glass) height has […]

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This just happened. (photo courtesy: Ram)

Most design students don’t consider Peak Oil in their studies, but The Reckoning was on my reading list back then. While Peak Oil is tangentially connected to car design, we clearly reached Peak Emblem.

It cannot get any worse than what’s being introduced in Chicago this week.

Emblem size, just like wheel size and body/firewall (versus glass) height has been on the rise for over a decade.  Park a new Corolla next to a 1995-2000 model for proof.  The problem is empty real estate, sheets of painted metal with no landscaping. A big problem for a top-tier RAM, for the Laramie Limited trim. How do you visually separate a premium model when even the mid-level model has that in-yo-face look from a huge grille and acres of chrome?

Larger and larger emblems, apparently: on the grille and the tailgate.  Damn Son, dat tailgate!

As mentioned before, it’s all about proportioning: big butts need MOAR BLING. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless the proportions are so extreme that creativity is stifled and the sheet metal cannot to rest on its design laurels.  A shame, as the RAM (like many new Chrysler designs) are quite fetching by themselves.

Here’s my suggestion:

1985 Dodge Power Ram (photo courtesy: www.fortrucksonly.com/truckforum)

Stamp a (unique to trim levels like the Laramie Limited) tailgate with negative area, then add a metal insert with small(er that what you did) lettering. Of course Ye Old School Dodge has a much smaller tailgate, but applying the concept of negative area to the Laramie makes sense.  Well, perhaps not the financial sense of slapping the biggest emblems you can make on dat butt.

Peak Emblem is real, it happened.

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

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TTAC’s Own Bigtruckseriesreview Goes Viral http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/ttacs-bigtruckseriesreview-goes-viral/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/ttacs-bigtruckseriesreview-goes-viral/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 14:07:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=995850 (NSFW for language)

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Click here to view the embedded video.

(NSFW for language)

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Junkyard Find: 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/junkyard-find-1987-dodge-shelby-charger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/junkyard-find-1987-dodge-shelby-charger/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 02:41:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=982713 Who would have thought, in the late 1960s, that the future held front-wheel-drive Chargers, based on a French platform? Or that Carroll Shelby’s name would be on some of those cars? The Shelby Chryslers aren’t worth a whole bunch today, which means that non-perfect ones show up in cheap self-serve wrecking yards all the time; […]

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06 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinWho would have thought, in the late 1960s, that the future held front-wheel-drive Chargers, based on a French platform? Or that Carroll Shelby’s name would be on some of those cars? The Shelby Chryslers aren’t worth a whole bunch today, which means that non-perfect ones show up in cheap self-serve wrecking yards all the time; we’ve seen this ’87 Daytona Shelby Z, this ’86 Omni GLH, this ’85 Shelby Charger, and this ’84 Shelby Charger so far, and now I’ve spotted a very rough but still recognizable ’87 Shelby Charger in the San Francisco Bay Area.
13 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThe 146-horse 2.2 liter turbocharged engine is long gone, but the genuine Shelby bucket seats are still there.
01 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinYes, it’s a genuine Shelby.
11 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinAir conditioning, maybe some Georgia Satellites on the cassette, some Iran-Contra on the news… yeah, a very 1980s car.

Dodge is creating a revolution in the streets!

01 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 02 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 03 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 04 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 05 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 06 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 07 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 08 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 09 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 10 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 11 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 12 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 13 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 14 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 15 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin

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Dodge Unveils 1-of-1 Program For New Viper Owners http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/dodge-unveils-1-1-program-new-viper-gtc-owners/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/dodge-unveils-1-1-program-new-viper-gtc-owners/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 11:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=974282 Is the standard color palette for the 2015 Dodge Viper not enough for you? Have you looked at your child’s Twilight Sparkle and Sonata Dusk brushables and thought to yourself, ‘Those hair colors might look good on on a Viper’? Dodge has a program just for you. New Dodge Viper owners can get a lot […]

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2015 Dodge Viper

Is the standard color palette for the 2015 Dodge Viper not enough for you? Have you looked at your child’s Twilight Sparkle and Sonata Dusk brushables and thought to yourself, ‘Those hair colors might look good on on a Viper’? Dodge has a program just for you.

New Dodge Viper owners can get a lot more for the $94,995 base price with the brand’s 1-of-1 customization program, which is set to open in February. Owners who place their order with their dealer will have the following to consider:

  • 24,000 hand-painted custom stripes
  • 8,000 hand-painted exterior colors
  • 16 interior trims
  • 10 wheel options
  • Six aero packages
  • A wide array of standalone choices

With every possible option under the sun, over 25 million unique build combinations can be had from the program, which also includes a concierge service throughout the build, a new mobile-friendly website to track the build process, personalized plaque and instrument panel with “the customer’s chosen name to commemorate their design,” and a complementary 1:18 scale replica to confirm color selection.

The program also allows Dodge and SRT to demonstrate the full capabilities of the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit, where the Viper is assembled. Brand president Tim Kuniskis explains:

Because every Viper is hand crafted with such an extreme level of detail, we have the unique opportunity to make each one even more special by giving buyers the opportunity to customize each vehicle to their exact specifications. Now, Viper owners will be able to say their Viper is truly one of a kind.

Delivery options include rapid transport in an enclosed carrier, or, for those wanting to visit Detroit, picking up their new Viper at Conner Avenue following a tour of the facilities.

Production of the first 1-of-1 Vipers will begin in Q2 2015.

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The Ballad of the Death Star http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/ballad-death-star/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/ballad-death-star/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 16:30:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=971698   You wouldn’t know to look at her, but she had history. Amazing history, built up throughout her 2-owner life.   Chris the owner is featured above. He is the one spraying Cruex on his crotch. He had ordered this 1992 Dodge factory custom right from the military car sales office at Ramstien Air Force […]

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The Death Star

 

You wouldn’t know to look at her, but she had history. Amazing history, built up throughout her 2-owner life.

 

Chris the owner is featured above. He is the one spraying Cruex on his crotch. He had ordered this 1992 Dodge factory custom right from the military car sales office at Ramstien Air Force Base in Germany. It was precisely that fact that allowed him to order the interior colors exactly what he wanted, the short wheelbase and most important, the 5 speed manual transmission.

 

Why a van? Well, Chris was in a band. Actually Chris was in a lot of them. He is still a very talented bass player, but in the late 80s was stationed in Europe. Every band needs rhythm, thus Chris was in high demand. The fluid nature of military changes ensured that as soon as one band broke up, another was forming. He could play several instruments and had his own gear. In addition to instrumental talent, a decent voice and lack of musician’s ego, Chris also had a van.

This landed him a gig with a country cover band called Texas Pride in 1992. Country cover bands were even more rare than a bass player with a van in Europe. The gigs were consistent and paid well. The crowds became huge and they eventually toured bases all throughout Europe. With tours comes groupies and well…Chris had a van.

Non-musically, this was a hooligan vehicle of the highest order. Any semi-organized night of drinking involved a designated driver and this van. I distinctly remember a friend hanging from the open rear doors via his belt held by another buddy, while we were in motion. The blonde guy on the roof (next to me in the black shirt) once rode the luggage ladder for almost 5 miles. In the photograph above, we were preparing for a night of debauchery in Luxemburg; it became known as “The Boys Night Out…of The Country.”

Many hours after this photograph was snapped, we would arrange for the services of a professional so that one of the young lads in the picture above could lose his virginity to her. He would hug all of us for it later.

The groupie related shenanigans that occurred in the or as a result of this van are far more sordid.

Eventually Chris and the van returned stateside. He had met a lovely woman, fell in love and got married. Despite his monogamous ways, every day the van sat in their driveway, it mocked his new bride with untold sordid stories of what happened within. It had to go.

Which in 2002, is how it came to be mine.

The van’s life continued in a similar fashion, but I am married and can only play four chords on my very cheap guitar. But any semi-organized evening of drinking involved a designated driver and this van. In 2002, a pack of young Air Force Lieutenants were returning from the bars in downtown OKC when my wife’s phone rang. It was her sister; my friend Doug snatched the phone and questioned “Who the hell is this?” She replied; “Who the hell is this?”

Six months later they were engaged. They have been together for over 10 years together just had their third child, my darling niece Sofia.

At the start of 2003 I drove the van to a six-month temporary assignment in Las Vegas, where it was dubbed The Death Star. She also became the vehicle of choice for hijinks on and off The Strip and at least once was a hotel room when I had imbibed more than I had anticipated and elected to not drive.

Throughout all of this; she helped folks move, carried big purchases home, towed cars, motorcycles and performed any other menial task requiring a big vehicle for a variety of friends in this nation and others.

Sadly, she passed on the way back from Las Vegas. With almost 300,000 on the clock and more than a few Nebraska winters, the door hinges had started to rust. In the late 90’s she had struck a deer in Wyoming and still bore the battle scars. These issues precluded her repair when the flywheel lost about 25% of it’s teeth and the starter wouldn’t engage. It’s no small feet to find a hill near a gas station as I staggered across the Texas panhandle, but still easier than having to push it and bump it off solo. By the time she limped back to Norman Oklahoma, the charging system had also failed. Add in the growing body rust, and despite her proud heritage, her time had come to an end.

Like the infamous Giving Tree, her days of giving were not finished and I managed to drive her to a parts recycler. Like a Crabspirits adventure, I envisioned her telling tales her of travels all over Europe and the US to the other cars in the mortal ward, and after sunset those sagas turning more adult in nature.

If you live in the midwest and enjoy folk music, Chris still plays with the same lovely bride. Check out An Evening.

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Drive, Road & Track, Pit Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Against F-16 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/drive-road-track-pit-dodge-challenger-srt-hellcat-f-16/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/drive-road-track-pit-dodge-challenger-srt-hellcat-f-16/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 01:08:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=971730 In the time honored buff book tradition of pitting supercars against military aircraft, Road & Track and the Drive network managed to procure a Hellcat for a drag race against an F-16. Shot on a rainy Friday at South Florida’s Homestead Air Force Base, the weather conditions weren’t ideal for a Hellcat – but that didn’t […]

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In the time honored buff book tradition of pitting supercars against military aircraft, Road & Track and the Drive network managed to procure a Hellcat for a drag race against an F-16.

Shot on a rainy Friday at South Florida’s Homestead Air Force Base, the weather conditions weren’t ideal for a Hellcat – but that didn’t stop the F-16.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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Junkyard Find: 1977 Dodge Aspen Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/junkyard-find-1977-dodge-aspen-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/junkyard-find-1977-dodge-aspen-station-wagon/#comments Tue, 30 Dec 2014 14:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=968594 Commonplace as the Dodge Aspen was during the Middle and Late Malaise Era— you saw them on American roads in 1980 or so about as often as you’d see, say, Hyundai Accents today. The Aspen (and its Plymouth sibling, the Volaré) didn’t hold their value so well, and nearly all of them were crushed by […]

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13 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCommonplace as the Dodge Aspen was during the Middle and Late Malaise Era— you saw them on American roads in 1980 or so about as often as you’d see, say, Hyundai Accents today. The Aspen (and its Plymouth sibling, the Volaré) didn’t hold their value so well, and nearly all of them were crushed by the early 1990s. I photograph them whenever I see them, of course, but that isn’t often. In this series before today, we’ve seen this ’76 Aspen sedan, this ’76 Volaré sedan, this brown-on-beige ’77 Volaré coupe and this ’77 Volaré Premier wagon, and now we’ve got a mossy, lichen-covered Northern California Aspen wagon.
07 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe winters in the San Francisco Bay Area are cold and wet, and a car that spends a few years (or maybe a couple of decades) parked in shade will gather moss.
20 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAnd, much like cars that spend years in the birch forests of northern Sweden, this car has provided a home for lichens.
10 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThink the 318 under the hood is still good? Probably so, but these engines get few takers these days.
06 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSuch an expanse of brown vinyl!

Better than a Nova? That’s a tough call.

01 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Capsule Comparison: 2015 Dodge Charger SRT 392 Vs. 2014 Chevrolet SS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-comparison-2015-dodge-charger-srt-392-vs-2014-chevrolet-ss-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-comparison-2015-dodge-charger-srt-392-vs-2014-chevrolet-ss-2/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 18:16:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=964130 (Please accept my apologies for this long-ago-promised and painfully overdue comparison. -DK) With the demise of the Chrysler 300 SRT, Americans are limited to two choices for a domestic sports sedan. And neither of them are built in America. The Chevrolet SS, as we all know, is built in Port Elizabeth, Australia. Based on the […]

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(Please accept my apologies for this long-ago-promised and painfully overdue comparison. -DK)

With the demise of the Chrysler 300 SRT, Americans are limited to two choices for a domestic sports sedan. And neither of them are built in America.

The Chevrolet SS, as we all know, is built in Port Elizabeth, Australia. Based on the Holden VE Commodore, the SS gets the best of what Holden has to offer: a rear-drive Zeta platform, an LS3 V8 engine and styling that many find to be far too restrained and understated – to me, that’s a big part of the appeal.

When Bark M drove this car a year ago (to help kick off our Reader Ride Review program), he was diplomatically lukewarm about the car, praising the small-block V8 and the 7/10ths handling prowess, while criticizing the car’s balky gearbox and Bridgestone Potenza RE050 tires. I was dumbstruck. As a big fan of the Pontiac G8 (and Australian rear-drive sedans), I wanted to believe that Bark’s impressions of the SS were colored by the fact that he drives a Boss 302 on a daily basis. It turns out he was right.

While GM nominally describes the SS as a limited production sports sedan, it’s easy to understand why sales of this car are in the toilet, marketing support or no marketing support. The G8 was a brilliant last stand from a dying brand when it was introduced in 2009. Driving the SS today just shows how the competition has moved on.

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Yes, the interior with the big MyLink touch screen and the heads-up display is a vast improvement over the old G8. There’s lots of space for passengers both fore and aft. Flimsy paddles aside, everything is high quality, pleasing to the touch and sufficiently upscale – if you can ignore the bright red “SS” emblems stitched into the seats. The trunk is made for an Australian family, which is to say, it’s huge.

I wanted to like this car so, so badly, but the driving experience fell utterly flat. Yes, you get big thrust and a nice small-block soundtrack from the LS3 (finally a proper LS, unlike the 6.0 mill in the old G8). A naturally aspirated V8 is fast becoming an endangered species, and this is one of the best. But the transmission can’t keep pace.

Nor could the rest of the car, for that matter. On the winding backroads around Summit Point Raceway, the SS just didn’t feel that special. At a hair under 4000 lbs, it’s lighter than the Charger SRT, but you’d never know it. The SS isn’t as buttoned-down in turns as the Charger, while the uncommunicative steering doesn’t flatter the car’s size or heft. In the brilliant shade of metallic black, the SS seemed to be the closest thing available to an old moonshiner’s hot-rod. It also drove like one too.

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If you want the top-performing American sports sedan, you’ll have to opt for the Charger SRT 392, which is actually built in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. It’s not as elegant as the SS, though I bet that many people will prefer its more aggressive looks. The new for 2015 restyling tones down some of the overly-aggro snout on the outgoing car, but there’s no mistaking it for the V6 SXT you’ll find on the Avis lot.

At nearly 4400 lbs and just under 200 inches long, the Charger is, as they’d say in the Antipodes, “a big fucker”. The lighter SS makes do with less power  – 6.2L and 415 horsepower versus the Charger’s 6.4L and 485 horsepower -, but the seemingly minor differences are deceptive on paper. Sort of like how there is but a mere millimeter difference between a 9mm and a 10mm handgun cartridge, but one is used by police forces while the other can stop a grizzly dead in its tracks.

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The SRT V8 is not as refined or as smooth as the storied LS3, but the extra output, combined with the utterly brilliant 8-speed automatic means that the Charger 392 has the Chevrolet beat hands down for aural drama and straight line performance. The soundtrack is a masterpiece of pyrotechnic sounds that mimics the AMG 6.2L V8s NASCAR-esque notes, and the engine is as strong between 60 and 100 mph as it is from a dig. If that weren’t enough, the 2015 SRT adds the Hellcat’s massive Brembo brakes (15.4 inch rotors up front, 13.8 inches in the back) and a whole suite of adjustable driving modes for the suspension, throttle, gearbox and traction control. There’s also an updated interior with better materials and the excellent UConnect/Alpine stereo system – I concur with Baruth when he says it might be the best mainstream audio system in the business.

With the SS getting a 6-speed manual and an updated suspension for 2015, a rematch is only fair. But driving the two cars back to back opened my eyes to the possibility that, aside from CAFE and a shrinking market for full-size cars, there’s a reason we’ve never gotten the Commodore as a mainstream Chevrolet product: it’s just not good enough to compete. Right now, FCA has the full-size rear-drive mainstream sedan segment all to itself, and its sales are still strong, even after all these years. For an Americanized-Commodore to steal sales away from the LX cars – and the Taurus, and Avalon and Azera and the Impala- it would have to be extraordinarily compelling. Right now, I can’t say that about the SS, no matter how much I like the idea of it.

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November 2014 Was The Dodge Dart’s Best Month Ever http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/november-2014-dodge-darts-best-month-ever/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/november-2014-dodge-darts-best-month-ever/#comments Sun, 14 Dec 2014 13:36:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=960497 The Chrysler Group reported the Dodge Dart’s best-ever sales month in November 2014 as year-over-year volume jumped 39% to 9012 units. This was the first time Dart volume climbed beyond 9000 units in a single month. The previous top month for this modern incarnation of the Dart was May of this year, when 8644 were […]

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2015 Dodge DartThe Chrysler Group reported the Dodge Dart’s best-ever sales month in November 2014 as year-over-year volume jumped 39% to 9012 units.

This was the first time Dart volume climbed beyond 9000 units in a single month. The previous top month for this modern incarnation of the Dart was May of this year, when 8644 were sold.

Yet at best, a best-ever month from the Dart still represents nothing more than a mid-pack performance.

Toyota sold 2.8 Corollas for every Dart sold by Dodge in November. (Year-to-date, Corolla volume is four times stronger.) The Honda Civic and Chevrolet Cruze both sold more than twice as many copies as the Dart did last month. By large margins, the Dart was also outsold by the Volkswagen Jetta, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, and Nissan Sentra.

Through the first eleven months of 2014, Dart volume is down 1% compared with the same period one year ago. However, the trend has been much more favourable since the beginning of May. Over the last seven months, year-over-year Dart volume is up 17%, an 8K-unit gain.

The Dart’s November performance was especially strong in a particularly healthy month for the compact car segment as a whole. Sales of Corolla-class cars are up just 3% this year but jumped 8% in November thanks in large part to big gains from the Corolla (up 14%, equal to 3175 units), Chevrolet Cruze (up 26%, 4657 units), Volkswagen Jetta sedan (up 32%, 3440 units), and the Dart. Nissan Sentra sales jumped 16% and the Kia Forte was up 14% for a combined 2490-unit improvement.

As for its impact on the overall Chrysler Group, the Dart generated 5.3% of Alfa/Chrysler/Dodge/Fiat/Jeep/Ram sales in November of this year, up from 4.6% in November 2013. Chrysler says their four car-selling brands generated a combined 26% year-over-year car improvement last month, although pickup trucks, SUVs, crossovers, and minivans still accounted for 76% of the company’s total volume.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Shimizu: Takata Hasn’t Found The Cause Of Airbag Failures http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/shimizu-takata-hasnt-found-cause-airbag-failures/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/shimizu-takata-hasnt-found-cause-airbag-failures/#comments Fri, 05 Dec 2014 15:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955722 Takata has yet to find the root cause of the defect affecting its airbags; Autoliv will supply replacements to Honda; and Toyota, Mazda and Chrysler are expanding their recalls. Reuters reports Takata hasn’t found the cause behind the catastrophic failures in its airbags, per testimony given by safety executive Hiroshi Shimizu before Congress Wednesday. That […]

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Shimizu, Takata's Senior Vice President for global quality assurance, testifies before a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing in Washington

Takata has yet to find the root cause of the defect affecting its airbags; Autoliv will supply replacements to Honda; and Toyota, Mazda and Chrysler are expanding their recalls.

Reuters reports Takata hasn’t found the cause behind the catastrophic failures in its airbags, per testimony given by safety executive Hiroshi Shimizu before Congress Wednesday. That said, Shimizu said his company was of “the strong opinion that (there) is a factor contributing to this defect: which is high humidity, temperature and the life of the product.” He also claimed the ammonium nitrate used in the airbags was safe and stable, though he admitted replacements weren’t coming fast enough.

Meanwhile, competitor Autoliv announced it would supply replacements to Honda for vehicles in the United States. The automaker had mentioned before Congress it was in talks with the supplier and another, Daicel, regarding expanded production to replace modules in a nationwide recall. Autoliv will add capacity in its existing plants, with deliveries to come after six months.

Among the other affected automakers, Chrysler, Toyota and Mazda have stepped up their individual recall efforts. AutoGuide says the subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has called back 149,150 Dodge Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 models from the 2003 model year, covering Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan and the Virgin Islands. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated the move wasn’t enough, and is looking at what action to take next.

Over in Japan, Bloomberg reports Toyota is recalling 190,000 affected vehicles in its local market and in China. The recall comes on the news of a catastrophic detonation at a junkyard of a Takata airbag inside a 2003 WiLL Cypha; the detonation was part of the procedures outlined by Japan’s Automobile Recycling Law, which also requires dismantlers to report any problem to the automaker to determine if a recall is necessary.

Finally, The Detroit News says Mazda is recalling 40,000 more vehicles — including the 2003-2007 Mazda6, 2004-2008 RX-8, 2006-2007 Mazdaspeed6, 2004-2005 MPV and 2004 B-Series — in Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas and Alabama. The automaker previously recalled 44,000 units in the U.S. and 2,600 in Puerto Rico.

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Junkyard Find: 1975 Dodge D100 Pickup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1975-dodge-d100-pickup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1975-dodge-d100-pickup/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 14:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949537 Since many Dodge D-series pickup parts fit my ’66 A100 van I’m always on the lookout for members of the species while visiting the junkyard. Today’s D100, which I found in a Denver self-service wrecking yard a couple of weeks back, is a little too new to offer many bits for my Dodge, but it’s […]

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13 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSince many Dodge D-series pickup parts fit my ’66 A100 van I’m always on the lookout for members of the species while visiting the junkyard. Today’s D100, which I found in a Denver self-service wrecking yard a couple of weeks back, is a little too new to offer many bits for my Dodge, but it’s still interesting enough for this series.
17 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinGrowing up in a Navy town, ex-Navy D100s of this vintage were common sights on the street. Most of them were still in their government-issue gray paint with the Navy serial numbers still visible, but some got rattle-can paint jobs like this one.
07 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe sensible Slant-6-and-4-speed drivetrain was about right for a truck like this— you weren’t going to go fast, but you’d always get there.
19 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI didn’t grab any parts, but I did get this magnet for my toolbox.

01 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Grand Cherokee, Durango Going Grayscale Until February 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/grand-cherokee-durango-going-grayscale-february-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/grand-cherokee-durango-going-grayscale-february-2015/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949153 Were you hoping to have a red Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT or Dodge Durango Ron Burgundy Edition in your driveway in time for Christmas? You may have to try your luck on the lot, as new orders will be painted black, white, gray and silver all over for the next few months. Automotive News reports […]

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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-004

Were you hoping to have a red Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT or Dodge Durango Ron Burgundy Edition in your driveway in time for Christmas? You may have to try your luck on the lot, as new orders will be painted black, white, gray and silver all over for the next few months.

Automotive News reports the grayscale look will be in until at least next February due to upgrades at Chrysler Group’s Jefferson North Assembly’s paint shop in Detroit. The upgrades would allow the shop to paint vehicles with more complex colors than it could prior to the changeover.

The changeover, which follows those at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ subsidary’s Warren Truck and Sterling Heights facilities, will also shut production down for three weeks beginning December 22, the first time the plant has been shut down for that long in several years.

Until then, shoppers can comb through the lot to find a red or maximum steel SUV of their dreams: around 19 percent of 24,500 unsold 2015 Grand Cherokees and 8 percent of 719 unsold Dodge Durangos come in colors outside of the grayscale range.

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Junkyard Find: 1976 Plymouth Volaré Sedan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1976-plymouth-volare-sedan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1976-plymouth-volare-sedan/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 14:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=942913 The Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volaré won the Motor Trend Car of the Year award for 1976, and they spent a good decade among the most commonplace vehicles on American roads. Then just about all of them disappeared, no doubt as they depreciated well below scrap value in about ten years. However, the occasional odds-beating survivor shows […]

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14 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volaré won the Motor Trend Car of the Year award for 1976, and they spent a good decade among the most commonplace vehicles on American roads. Then just about all of them disappeared, no doubt as they depreciated well below scrap value in about ten years. However, the occasional odds-beating survivor shows up in wrecking yards now and then; we’ve seen this ’76 Aspen sedan, this brown-on-beige ’77 Volaré coupe and this ’77 Volaré Premier wagon, and now today’s ’76 Volaré sedan. This one shows evidence of having sat for the last decade or so, but still managed to rack up many more miles than most of its Civic and Corolla contemporaries.
22 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s always interesting to find old newspapers in junkyard cars; they let you know about when the car last functioned as a semi-usable vehicle. This ’65 Chevy Bel Air had a bunch of 1982 Denver papers, this ’60 Plymouth Valiant wagon had a few 1970 issues of the San Francisco Chronicle, and today’s Junkyard Find came with a trunk full of 2004 issues from the now-long-defunct Rocky Mountain News.
24 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCertain topics haven’t left the editorial pages for decades.
20 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis comic was important enough to the car’s previous owner to have warranted clipping and stashing in the glovebox.
04 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinChrysler used this style of AM radio for most of the 1970s; I had one in my ex-water-company ’73 Plymouth Fury.
06 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Aspen/Volaré was the successor to the incredibly successful Dart/Valiant series, but its quality problems and notorious recalls nearly destroyed Chrysler.
09 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSlant-6 engine with great big two-cylinder air-conditioning compressor. A friend of mine used to make and sell cut-rate shop air-compressors using these things.
02 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe steering wheel was a lot snazzier than your typical Valiant’s.

Toyota used the Volaré as an example of what not to buy in their ’78 ads. This one must have made Lee Iacocca livid.

A “special” suspension!

01 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Dodge: Over 5,000 Challenger Hellcats Ordered Since October http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/dodge-5000-challenger-hellcats-ordered-since-october/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/dodge-5000-challenger-hellcats-ordered-since-october/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 14:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940297 Since the 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat roared at the 2014 New York Auto Show, enthusiasts have been waiting for the day the big cats would enter the showroom. When ordering opened in October, so did the floodgates. According to Allpar, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis reported over 4,000 orders for the $60,000 707-horsepower musclecar were taken […]

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2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat

Since the 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat roared at the 2014 New York Auto Show, enthusiasts have been waiting for the day the big cats would enter the showroom.

When ordering opened in October, so did the floodgates.

According to Allpar, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis reported over 4,000 orders for the $60,000 707-horsepower musclecar were taken as soon as ordering came online, with an additional 1,000-plus entered since then.

The brand knew demand would be strong, but it had no idea it would come in hot, too; Dodge initially planned to build just 1,200 units annually. There’s also a dealer incentive to get the Challenger Hellcat into customers’ hands as soon as possible so that more can be delivered to the showroom as production moves forward.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Dodge Charger Hellcat http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/capsule-review-2015-dodge-charger-hellcat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/capsule-review-2015-dodge-charger-hellcat/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 13:30:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=937274 It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Not long ago, we were told that gas was going to $6 a gallon, maybe even higher. CAFE, crash safety regulations and government interference would force us all into autonomous, emissions-free transportation pods. How lucky am I to be filling up a 707-horsepower rear-drive sedan with 93 Octane? […]

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It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Not long ago, we were told that gas was going to $6 a gallon, maybe even higher. CAFE, crash safety regulations and government interference would force us all into autonomous, emissions-free transportation pods.

How lucky am I to be filling up a 707-horsepower rear-drive sedan with 93 Octane? More shocking than an auto journalist paying for his own gas is the fact that 13 gallons of the good stuff cost me about $45.

A sudden plummet in the price of crude oil was a lucky break for enthusiasts. The origin of the Dodge Charger Hellcat isn’t quite as serendipitous. For the Hellcat program to exist, there had to be multiple nameplates to help amortize the cost of development. After the Challenger, the Charger was the next logical step. Don’t be surprised to see this engine wind up in another FCA vehicle, even if it’s not the Viper.

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There are few visual differences between the SRT 392 (aka the former SRT8 Charger) and the Hellcat – the most obvious one being the subtle, stylized feline “Hellcat” badge on the front fender. The same wheel and tire package, red Brembo brakes and rear wing can be had on both cars. Inside, the supple leather, UConnect 8.4 infotainment system and sport seats are present as well. With the programmable SRT Performance Pages (read, adjustments for the suspension, traction control, gear changes and access to the full 707 horsepower) set to “Street”, this car is as sedate and docile as the rental-spec V6 Charger SXT we drove earlier that day. On the highway, the blown V8 spins at just a tick over 1200 rpm. At 70 mph, we saw an indicated 22.4 mpg, while the plush, heated seats, XM Radio and solidly soundproofed cabin made the Hellcat an effortless cruiser.

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If you desire a bit of the old ultraviolence, simply go back to the Performance Pages and change everything to “Track” (you did keep it at full power, rather than limiting it to just 500 horsepower, right?). In the same way that the right combination of settings transform the Jaguar F-Type  from Jamie Oliver on wheels into Harry Brown, inputting the proper cheat codes unlocks the full potential of the Hellcat.

Without having driven the Challenger version, it’s tough to draw comparisons between the two Hellcats. Nevertheless, the straight-line performance of the Charger Hellcat is literally violent. Nothing more needs to be said, and even the most floral Dan Neil prose cannot do it justice. At 1200 rpm, the supercharger 6.2L engine makes as much torque as the old 6.4L SRT V8, which led to a rythmic ritual on the damp backroads of West Virginia: gently press the throttle, wait for the rear tires to lose grip, wait for TCS to kick in, rinse and repeat until you are breaching triple digit velocities. In a Nissan GT-R, you have an army of driver aides and all-wheel drive to help keep you on the pavement. On a Suzuki Hayabusa, you have a motorcycle jacket and a pair of Levis (hopefully more than that) to keep the pebbles and broken glass from tattooing themselves into your posterior. In terms of sheer acceleration and wet weather traction, the Hellcat sits between the two.

The ZF 8-speed automatic gearbox is the gold standard for longitudinal automatic gearboxes, but the reworked edition for the Hellcat manages to make even greater improvements. In track mode, gear changes are executed are faster than a Parisian pickpocket, taking just 120 milliseconds. Only the briefest of pauses in the Hellcat’s .50 BMG exhaust note lets you know that an upshift has occurred. In Street and Sport modes, they help keep the car humming along. It has all the best qualities of a dual-clutch, with none of the drawbacks, and I think that it might be the most significant advancements in modern performance cars.

Lacking an ample supply of sunshine, dry roads and extra-absorbent adult diapers, I was unable to properly put the Hellcat to the test on the track or the street, but its dynamic characteristics will be familiar to anyone who has driven prior LX-chassis SRT cars. Steering is heavy but not exactly the last word in communicative. The big Brembos bring the car to a halt with a consistent pedal feel. The ride is firm without being overly punishing. There is room for five adults and all of their stuff. In Jazz Blue with the saddle leather interior and the dark wheels, it looks less like a photo-enlarged Dart, and more like something that will cross the Barrett-Jackson auction block for the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $1 million at some future date.

In the grand scheme of things, the Charger Hellcat is an irrelevant, low-volume marketing exercise. Most of them will sit in climate-controlled garages, snapped up by dealer principals, waiting for that financially fruitful day under the big tent in Scottsdale. A few will be wrapped around telephone poles mere weeks after they were presented as 16th birthday presents to select members of America’s overindulged youth.

What I love about it can’t be quantified by sales volume, P&L statements or performance data. I love it because no matter how many times we are told by malcontent motoring writers that cars are lack “soul”, or that profligate performance cars are a dying species, we seem to get yet another crop of American muscle car that is exponentially more belligerent and incrementally more efficient. Underneath it all is a statement, a crass, puerile one at that, for which the Charger Hellcat happens to be a vessel. And that vessel is a very good, very grown up car.

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Choose Your Own Adventure: The Great American Full-Size Sedan Shootout http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/choose-adventure-great-american-full-size-sedan-shootout/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/choose-adventure-great-american-full-size-sedan-shootout/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 22:13:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934954 Today was a glorious day: despite the draconian speeding laws enacted by the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as the unfortunate wet weather, we were able to experience the full gamut of the 2015 Dodge Charger offerings, including the Hellcat version. Driving impressions for the 2015s are embargoed until Wednesday, October 29th, but you, the […]

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Today was a glorious day: despite the draconian speeding laws enacted by the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as the unfortunate wet weather, we were able to experience the full gamut of the 2015 Dodge Charger offerings, including the Hellcat version.

Driving impressions for the 2015s are embargoed until Wednesday, October 29th, but you, the B&B get to choose what you want to read first: the Hellcat standalone review, or a shootout between the Charger SXT V6 and Chevrolet Impala 2LT and the Charger SRT 392 and the Chevrolet SS; the V6 and V8 shootouts will get their own articles.

The Charger R/T Hemi was on hand, but without a competitive car to drive, we skipped it. Same with the basic Charger V6. In all likelihood, we’ll be able to rent both of those cars at a later date or get them out of the local press fleet. Over to you, B&B.

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September 2014 Sales: $85K Viper Sells Like It’s March 2008 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-sales-85k-viper-sells-like-march-2008/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-sales-85k-viper-sells-like-march-2008/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:15:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934234 This is what you read two months ago on TTAC: “FCA won’t build this car forever if it remains unwanted. Long live the Alfa Romeo 4C?” The mission for the Viper team then became, how do we make it desirable? Better yet, how do we make it desirable tomorrow? Over the span of a few […]

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2015 Dodge Viper SRTThis is what you read two months ago on TTAC: “FCA won’t build this car forever if it remains unwanted. Long live the Alfa Romeo 4C?”

The mission for the Viper team then became, how do we make it desirable? Better yet, how do we make it desirable tomorrow?

Over the span of a few days or weeks, the Chrysler Group wasn’t going to inject a barrel full of cash into R&D for a new Viper, perform stress tests, crash tests, performance tests, complete styling mock-ups, consult the Viper-owning faithful, and begin delivering cars to dealers.

But they could drop the price by $15,000, creating a base MSRP of $84,995. Suddenly for September, the Viper was priced like it was two decades ago, adjusted for inflation.

Suddenly, U.S. sales rose to the highest level the Viper has seen since January 2009, when 127 were sold, a follow-up to the Viper’s 152-unit December 2008 performance.

The Viper topped 100 units on six occasions in calendar year 2008: in March, April, May, August, and December.

One month does not offer enough evidence for a thorough sales analysis, but the turnaround is still too distinct to ignore. August sales had fallen to the second-lowest total since the latest Viper arrived early last year. The summer season generated just 158 sales between June and August, a 21% year-over-year drop from the 200 sold during the same season one year earlier.

Can the now $85K Viper maintain this heady level of output? Assuming Dodge/SRT sell another 324 more in the fourth-quarter of 2014, the Viper will have enjoyed its best sales year since 2008, although the total in that assumed case (870 units) would be down 26% from ‘08 levels, when 1172 were sold.

Keep in mind, 2008, when sales jumped 169% year-over-year, was not an especially good time for the Viper. 1511 Vipers were sold in 2002, 2103 in 2003, 1782 in 2004, 1652 in 2005, and 1455 in 2006.

Nevertheless, the year-over-year growth achieved by the Viper in September 2014 is notable. Volume shot up 140%, a gain of 63 units. Automotive News reports that Dodge will begin building Vipers again in mid-November after the price cut began moving substantial portions of dealer inventory. By that time, Viper production will have been idled for more than one-third of 2014.

With Viper numbers ascending, we can’t ignore the upward movement from two other sports cars. Nissan GT-R sales more than doubled to a Viper-besting 159 units, a gain of 83 sales compared with September 2013. GM, meanwhile, sold 2467 Corvettes in September alone, a 197% year-over-year increase, equal to 1636 units.

Only four other passenger cars produced greater year-over-year gains than the Viper in September. Audi’s A3 (up 33,329%) wasn’t really on sale a year ago. The Mitsubishi Mirage (up 6600%) did not put a full month under its belt last September. Mercedes-Benz’s scarcely available B-Class EV was up 3150%. And the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (up 393%), with 1909 September sales, continued to teach every automaker a lesson in how to sell $94,400-$222,000 cars.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Dodge Viper Assembly To Resume Mid-November http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dodge-viper-assembly-resume-mid-november/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dodge-viper-assembly-resume-mid-november/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934754 After months of idling, the Dodge Viper will once again roll out of the assembly line to a roped-off display near you. Automotive News reports the Conner Avenue plant will start production of the supercar in mid-November after shutting down July 3. The move follows a sales increase in September, thanks to a $15,000 discount […]

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2015-SRT-Viper-Anodized-Carbon-Time-Attack-Edition-3

After months of idling, the Dodge Viper will once again roll out of the assembly line to a roped-off display near you.

Automotive News reports the Conner Avenue plant will start production of the supercar in mid-November after shutting down July 3. The move follows a sales increase in September, thanks to a $15,000 discount to help move unsold 2013 and 2014 stock, as well as an additional $15,000 off via a coupon given to over 1,000 customers that will remain good until January 2, 2018.

In the aforementioned month, 108 Vipers were dusted off and sent to a good home after buyers paid $86,880 for them, besting August 2014’s 38 and September 2013’s 45. Dodge chief Tim Kuniskis said October sales are also turning out to be strong, helping to bring inventory down to appropriate levels.

Speaking of inventory, dealers have ordered 200 2015 Vipers, which will only be assembled once more older stock heads out onto the highway. Once assembly starts, only the GT and base SRT trims will come down the line at first, with the more upscale TA and GTS trims following after inventory becomes reasonable.

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Chrysler Twins Rank First And Second Among Minivans In 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chrysler-twins-ranked-first-second-among-minivans-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chrysler-twins-ranked-first-second-among-minivans-2014/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:02:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932466 Only twice in the last six years have one of the Chrysler Group’s minivans been America’s top-selling minivan. America’s best-selling minivan in 2008 and 2009 was the Honda Odyssey, which also led the segment in 2013. The Toyota Sienna was America’s best-selling minivan in 2011. Yet through the first nine months of 2014, not only […]

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2015 Dodge Grand CaravanOnly twice in the last six years have one of the Chrysler Group’s minivans been America’s top-selling minivan. America’s best-selling minivan in 2008 and 2009 was the Honda Odyssey, which also led the segment in 2013. The Toyota Sienna was America’s best-selling minivan in 2011.

Yet through the first nine months of 2014, not only is the Chrysler Town & Country America’s top-selling minivan, but its twin, the Dodge Grand Caravan, ranks second in the class, 8431 sales ahead of the third-ranked Odyssey. The Chrysler and Dodge haven’t finished a calendar year as the two top-ranked minivans since 2005. 

Granted, even during the years in which the Odyssey or Sienna led the category, the Chrysler/Dodge twins combined for superior market share. We also know that these vans are fleet favourites, assisting in the generation of volume outside of a retail environment. Moreover, competitors produce higher transaction prices, especially the Odyssey, while the Grand Caravan is geared towards value-minded family buyers.

But the news that these twins combined to finish the months of March, April, May, June, and September as the two leaders of the category is pertinent given FCA’s intentions for their Ontario-assembled vans and the recent growth in the category.

2011 Chrysler Town & CountryAfter five consecutive years of decline ending in 2009, overall minivan volume grew 7% in 2010, 3% in 2011, and 13% in 2012, then declined 4% to a two-year low last year. Minivan sales in 2014 are up 6%, meaning the category is on track for its best year since 2008, when the Odyssey’s two-year reign began.

We published a chart just last month looking at the increased market share of the twins in 2014, rising from 44% during the first eight months of 2013 to 49% this year. With three-quarters under our belt, the Town & Country and Grand Caravan now own 50% of the market, up from 45% a year ago. Town & Country volume is up 19%, a near 18,000-unit improvement. Grand Caravan sales have improved by 12,501 units, a 14% jump. Jointly, their sales are up 17% to 212,411 units, 13.7% of Chrysler Group’s year-to-date volume, up from 13.4% at this time a year ago. (Including the Ram Cargo Van, they account for 14.1% of all Chrysler Group sales.)

Resting on laurels is genuinely thought to be a bad idea. These vans are in need of an update, and their consistently held status of sales leaderboard top dogs hides the fact that so much of their appeal comes down to price. (And Stow ‘N Go!) They’re the least efficient vans in the class. Their second rows aren’t as comfortable or as spacious as the seats in, for example, the Sienna. They don’t offer eight-passenger seating.

Nevertheless, it would be easier to understand FCA’s decision to severely alter the Town & Country/Grand Caravan model structure if the trend was heading in the opposite direction, as it did in 2011, when their market share decreased to 41.7% from 45% in 2010. On the other hand, should an automaker stick to tried-and-true product plans in a category that’s declined in size by 48% over the last decade, even if that category is showing moderate signs of renewed health?

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Junkyard Find: 1979 Plymouth Champ, with Twin-Stick! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1979-plymouth-champ-twin-stick/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1979-plymouth-champ-twin-stick/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 13:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931106 The tales of the many flavors of rebadged Chrysler Europe and Mitsubishi products sold as Plymouths and Dodges remain perennially fascinating for me, what with all the Chryslerized Simcas and Hillmans and so forth, and one example of this breed that appears to have disappeared from the face of the earth is the Plymouth Champ. […]

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19 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe tales of the many flavors of rebadged Chrysler Europe and Mitsubishi products sold as Plymouths and Dodges remain perennially fascinating for me, what with all the Chryslerized Simcas and Hillmans and so forth, and one example of this breed that appears to have disappeared from the face of the earth is the Plymouth Champ. The Champ was a fourth-generation Mitsubishi Mirage, a gas-sipping front-driver that received Colt nameplates for the Dodge side of the showroom floor, and I found one a few days ago at a Denver-area self-service yard.
20 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Champ name existed for just the 1979 through 1982 model years, after which Chrysler must have decided that marketing confusion could be reduced and money saved on emblem production by selling both Plymouth- and Dodge-badged Colts.
12 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one is a particularly ghastly shade of Malaise Green, which is set off nicely by the tape stripes.
05 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car features the super-cool Twin-Stick aka Super Shift transmission, which had a high-low range selector that multiplied the four forward gears into eight gears. Essentially, it was an overdrive box built into the transaxle. In practice, just about nobody drove the Twin-Stick by going through all eight gear ranges in sequence— mostly, you just left it in one range or the other and drove it like a regular four-speed.
06 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBut still, the Twin-Stick was cool.
13 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis is the “big-block” 1.6 liter 4G32 Saturn engine, which made a mighty 80 horsepower.
07 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI was very tempted to buy this POWER/ECONOMY indicator light for my collection of weird Japanese instrument-panel parts, but did not do so.
24 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt looks to be an original Colorado car.
01 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCars don’t tend to rust much here in the dry High Plains climate, but Japanese cars of the 1970s could find a way to rust in a vacuum.
04 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s worn out, but essentially complete. How many Champs are left in the wild?

Chuck Woolery says the ’79 Champ is the Southern California mileage champ.

Another little mileage car from Japan, right?


Just don’t crash your Champ!

01 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat Delivers EPA-Rated 22 MPG Highway http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2015-challenger-srt-hellcat-delivers-epa-rated-22-mpg-highway/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2015-challenger-srt-hellcat-delivers-epa-rated-22-mpg-highway/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 10:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=914234 Most customers purchasing a 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat aren’t likely considering fuel economy as a reason for wanting one of the most brutal machines ever assembled. That said, the pony car is fairly efficient on the highway in comparison to more exotic fare. The lieutenant to the Charger Hellcat’s general, the Challenger Hellcat delivers […]

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2015 Dodge Challenger SRT with the HEMI® Hellcat

Most customers purchasing a 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat aren’t likely considering fuel economy as a reason for wanting one of the most brutal machines ever assembled. That said, the pony car is fairly efficient on the highway in comparison to more exotic fare.

The lieutenant to the Charger Hellcat’s general, the Challenger Hellcat delivers an EPA rating of 22 highway via its eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic, losing only a single mpg for those who opt to row their own boats through a six-speed manual. Chrysler notes the highest rating comes from the auto’s 7.03 gear ratio spread, allowing the elephant to be that efficient on the highway more often.

In comparison, exotic beasts like the Lamborghini Aventador Roadster, Aston Martin Vanquish and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT deliver similar amounts of firepower to the battlefield, but only manage to put out 18 mpg to 19 mpg in so doing.

Furthermore, unlike the six-figure price tags for said exotics — of which only the Aventador comes closest in matching horsepower with the supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI Hellcat, the others falling just under 600 horses — the Challenger comes in at just under $60,000. Not a bad place to be, one would suppose.

Figures for city and combined mpg were not announced as of this writing.

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