So Easy, Even An Avenger Can Do It

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

If a rally car drives through the forest, does anybody care?

Of course, this isn’t really a rally car. It’s “rally-inspired”, built as a one-off by Mopar to celebrate a new business relationship with Magneti Marelli. Formula One fans will know MM as the constructors of various electronics and clutches.

“Our Dodge Avenger Rally car showcases Mopar’s new relationship with Magneti Marelli,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “Our companies worked closely together to bring this vehicle to life in a joint build that utilizes proven, quality-tested performance parts and accessories from Mopar and Magneti Marelli. We will gauge reaction to this vehicle and determine which parts will go into production.”

I’d be very surprised if any of the parts went into production. The Mopar Rally Avenger has enormous brakes front and rear with independent control of the rear brakes though a rally-style lever. There’s a new suspension which presumably allows the Avenger to chug along down dirt roads while still sitting 1.5 inches lower than stock. Perhaps the regular Avenger can ford streams at its ride height?

The stuff you can buy: a Mopar intake/exhaust package which allows the Pentastar to turn out a satisfying 300 horsepower, and a strut tower brace. If you’re looking for a true sign of the times in the modern era, it’s this: you can go buy a 300-horsepower domestic sedan for about $22K and nobody really cares.

If I had not been recently admonished by you, the readers of TTAC, to be a little more positive about things, I would say something about the fact that there are multiple private teams still running Neons in actual rally competition, right here in the United States, and it might have been nice to invite one or more of them to this particular party. You know, make it possible to buy stripped-out Avenger shells for RallyAmerica or whatnot. Perhaps Mopar could give the car to one of those teams when they’re done showing it off at the NYIAS next week.

Alternately, they could give it to me. I wouldn’t rally it, but there’s a class called “NASA Performance Touring C” for which this Avenger would be just right, and it would be competitive, even with its six-speed automatic transmission. I’ll be making this pitch to the Mopar folks in New York. If you’re there, feel free to suggest it to them as well, okay?

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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  • Stuki Stuki on Apr 14, 2011

    If the rally car drives through the forests of Humboldt County for any length of time, chances are various federal agents will take notice, if nothing else. Great place for rallying, btw. Didn't Nascar kind of grow out of bootleggers outrunning the man in the South back in the day? Nothing motivates greatness like beating the man :)

  • SimonAlberta SimonAlberta on Apr 15, 2011

    My first car, back in UK, was a 1970 HILLMAN Avenger 1500 GL and I loved it. They didn't do great in rallying (the Ford Escort of the time was the rally master) but there were a number of very well sorted saloon car (sedan to you guys!) racing examples that did very well. As I recall they weren't particularly powerful even for the times but were very well balanced and just about bullet-proof engine wise. Of course, in those days 100 hp was pretty good. My road model had about 75 hp if I remember correctly. Top speed about 92 mph but it was very chuckable and, yes, FUN, even with a 14 second zero-to-sixty! Man, we are so spoiled nowadays and, when all is said and done, are we really all that much better off for it. I kinda like the old cars.

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  • Arthur Dailey No.
  • Arthur Dailey My father had multiple Northstar equipped vehicles. He got one of the first Northstar equipped STS's in Canada and continually drove STS's on one year leases for nearly a decade. One of them did 'crap out' on him. It went into 'limp' mode and he drove it to the nearest GM dealer. The vehicle was about half way through its lease, and he was in cottage country (Muskoka). GM arranged to have it flatbedded back to Toronto. He rented a vehicle, drove it home and then took delivery of a new STS within about 4 days. There were no negotiations regarding repairs, etc. The vehicle was simply replaced. Overall he was pleased with the performance of these vehicles and their engines. We also found them a pleasant environment to be in, with more than enough power.
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