If there’s one thing at which Stellantis excels, besides stuffing the largest engine they can find into most of their models, it’s the creation of endless special editions to create a bit of buzz. This time, the subjects need no further promotion – but they’re getting it anyway.
In the long parade that is the series of Dodge ‘Last Call’ special edition cars celebrating, we find the 2023 Charger King Daytona as the second-to-last entrant in their big send-off party. For the occasion, gearheads at Dodge have cranked the wick on a Hellcat Redeye engine to an eye-popping 807 horsepower.
The speed freaks at Dodge pulled a two-fer yesterday with what are technically the third and fourth of seven Dodge special-edition "Last Call" models. Called the Swinger, they’re based on the R/T Scat Pack trim and are both Widebody models – but no word if there’s a pineapple included to display in the windshield when parked.
You may have heard that this is the last model year for the Charger and Challenger as we know them today. As a send-off, Dodge is creating a yaffle of special editions based on past packages or trims – along with allocating the entire year’s run at once. The latter is surely causing dealer principals to talk into their morning hit of cocaine caffeine.
Here’s the first – a Dodge Challenger Shakedown.
Dodge recently announced that the iconic Charger and Challenger models would be sacrificed in the name of electrification next year — releasing the battery-powered, two-door Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept to show the public what might be on offer in the near future. But the language used felt somewhat noncommittal, as if the company was really just testing the waters to see what V8-obsessed Mopar fans were willing to tolerate. Meanwhile, Stellantis has opted to eliminate the brand’s high-performance SRT (Street and Racing Technology) division.
Executives have attempted to spin this as good for the company, suggesting that integrating Dodge’s performance-focused engineering team into the broader pool will mean better cars across the board. But I’m worried about my favorite American brand and am wondering if anyone else on the road feels similarly.
Who else but Dodge could be trusted to design and patent an honest-to-Mopar exhaust system for an electric car? Hell-bent on the concept that their customers are intent on continuing their raucous ways long after the last internal combustion engine has gone silent, Dodge figures their target market wants to announce their presence instead of gliding silently into the room.
As someone smack in the middle of this demographic and holding the keys to a V8-powered Challenger, I feel compelled to say they may have a point.
In the face of an inevitable EV onslaught, Dodge is determined not to go quietly into that good night. Yesterday, they showed plans for a half-dozen Charger/Challenger special editions for its final model year in 2023, tag-teamed a shop in Florida to make Chally convertibles, and heralded the return of the Durango Hellcat.
Pop quiz, hotshot: What job combines a Challenger Hellcat, wrestling champ Bill Goldberg, and a $150,000 paycheck? If you answered with something along the lines of Vince McMahon’s assistant or slightly-above-board import/export professional, we totally understand.
In reality, that’s the job description for Chief Donut Maker at Dodge. Yep – you read that correctly.
Few car companies on this planet do special editions with the vigor (and frequency) of the American brands at Stellantis. Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and – to a lesser extent – Chrysler all return to their respective wells in search of a way to quench their thirst for profits.
This time, the retro-inspired Charger and Challenger brothers have once again been enrolled in Special Ed(itions) class. Specifically called the Jailbreak models, these Hellcat Redeye Widebody machines will permit customers to unlock color combination ordering restrictions while layering on new factory-custom options.
Following the PSA-FCA merger that resulted in Stellantis, Dodge has been promising that it would reinvent muscle cars to become all-electric vehicles. This rattled many Mopar fans, with the hardest day being when the automaker teased what was undoubtedly an EV concept inspired by the original Dodge Charger in July. In an act of true sacrilege, it even carried the Fratzog logo worn by many Chrysler products from the era.
This week, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis provided a loose timeline for the company’s planned EV offensive and what we might expect. He also acknowledged that the company knows that some fans of the brand are filled to the brim with trepidation at the prospect of an electric muscle car.
Most large sedans exist to provide comfort and some level of luxury to their owners. Some have a bit of sport, and some are bought to haul humans while others are meant to coddle the driver, regardless of whether they’re sporty or not.
Then there’s the Dodge Charger Hellcat, which exists to kick ass while also being an easy commuter.
Stellantis leadership is going to have some tough decisions to make in regard to Chrysler and Dodge. While both brands are a shadow of their former selves, Fiat Chrysler viewed their rightsizing as more of a distillation process. Despite lacking the full complement of vehicles necessary to occupy every segment, the two have the oversized American sedan segment almost entirely to themselves. In fact, their more-is-more ethos is becoming increasingly rare within the overall industry and (allegedly) at odds with the coming age. We’ve been told the only way to continue playing is through powertrain downsizing and electrification. The V8 is becoming taboo, reserved for the incognito browser.
What will your neighbors think when they learned you bought a Hemi? The jokes about the size of your member for needing such a big car with such a big motor will perpetually have you on edge and peering over a shoulder. You’ll be a fugitive inside your own mind, forever teetering on the brink. What if your alarmingly massive penis is actually as demure as your bother’s wife suggested when you brought the car to the last family dinner? Wouldn’t it be easier if we all just drove bland crossovers with modestly sized motors? Why do you have to be so different?
These are the kinds of harrowing questions we wouldn’t need to ask ourselves in the aftermath of a midnight screaming fit if Dodge and Chrysler stopped existing. Stellantis has that power … and it may even be considering that possibility right now. But is that really what’s best?
I didn’t plan for it to happen. It just did.
I had requested a Shelby GT500 loan because I’d driven the car on the launch but wanted to see what it’s like to live with the king of current Mustangs in the real world. Because the car is likely in high demand among Chicago-area automotive journalists, the loan would be short. So I’d have a gap in my schedule.
I don’t need test cars to get around. I am not dependent on them – I don’t feel beholden to the fleets or the automakers. I have other ways to get around, whether it be walking, biking, using a cab/Uber, or whatever. But I try to schedule cars each week, either so I can review them for TTAC (even if it takes a while to actually get around to the write-up, sorry gang) or at least use them as background for knowledge and comparison.
Beneath the Dodge Charger, you’ll find evidence of America’s oldest sedan, but it’s what’s up front that counts. Traditionally stuffed with as much muscle as Fiat Chrysler (and its predecessors) can muster, the aging Charger gets a testosterone injection for 2021 with the SRT Hellcat Redeye.
Familiar to Challenger aficionados, Redeye guise takes the already overly potent Hellcat and dials up the output — and also the price. If you can be swayed away from the “power dollars” offered on remaining 2020 models, the most powerful of these LX-platform sedans has what it takes to win shallow bragging rights for the buyer.
FCA thanks them for their contribution.
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