Lightning Strikes the TTAC Podcast

The TTAC podcast is back! In our fourth episode, we talk Ford Lightning, Kia Sportage, Formula One in Miami, and the best cars from 2007.

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Manual Dodge Challenger Hellcat May Be Gone for Good

Dodge decided to nix the six-speed manual for Challenger Hellcat models last November, indicating that it would be a temporary issue. The automaker allegedly planned to deliver an updated version and said it was actively calibrating the powertrain to see what worked ahead of pulling the old version from the assembly line. It was minor news and everyone following the industry promptly forgot about it, assuming three-pedal Challengers would be back in action before anyone noticed.

It’s now four months later and the option is still nowhere in sight.

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Dodge Challenger Finally Takes Sales Crown

For the first time since American muscle returned to the assembly line in earnest, Dodge’s Challenger has managed to outsell both the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro inside the United States. Though Mopar fans might point out that Dodge would win every year if we bothered to include Charger sales in the headcount or were more precise when making determinations about what constitutes a muscle vs pony car.

Regardless of semantics, the Big Three have their performance icons and the Challenger has taken the two-door sales crown for the first time in modern history. Sadly, it was less about Dodge making inroads with new customers than it was about the other brands flubbing things. Performance vehicles aimed at the middle class are presently experiencing a rough patch, with the Challenger having lost the least amount of ground in the last decade.

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Dodge Challenger Outpaces Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro in Q2 Sales

We don’t normally pay too much attention to pony-car pissing contests or quarter-to-quarter sales battles because, well, they aren’t always interesting and/or newsworthy.

What happened this past quarter caught our eye, however.

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1970 Dodge Challenger Selected Barrett-Jackson Best in Show

A 2,000 horsepower 1970 Dodge Challenger was selected Best in Show from a group of 50 vehicles at the Barrett-Jackson auction this past weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona, and awarded the 2021 Barrett-Jackson Cup. The Challenger was among five finalists, including a ’32 Ford Tudor, ’55 Chevrolet Bel Air, ’63 Chevrolet Bel Air Wagon, and a ’70 Ford F-100 Pickup.

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Dodge Introduces Three Horsepower Challenger, Charger

Dodge has long been synonymous with high levels of horsepower. Modern-day marketing materials practically scream it into your ear, acknowledging the company’s historic penchant for providing ludicrous amounts of power for hysterically low prices. The reality is a bit more complicated, however. While Mopar brands were indeed offering some of the best bang-for-your-buck muscle cars, back when they were a tad more novel, some of the fastest machines actually came from General Motors and Ford.

Today’s situation is very much the same. When the rest of the industry started downsizing powertrains, Dodge was still trying to squeeze even more juice from its colossal V8 engines — installing them anywhere they might fit. Rivals quickly got wise to its attempt to corner a segment just about everyone else had abandoned, resulting in gems like the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 or Ford Shelby GT500. But with everyone now back on board with the concept of displacement meaning power, Dodge has decided to change tactics.

What if it manufactured the V8 offering the smallest amount of horsepower imaginable?

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2021 Dodge Challenger to Get More Wide-Booty Bodies

The next Dodge Challenger will have a bit more junk in the trunk, at least in terms of available wide-body options.

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Fade to Pink: Dodge Changes Splitter Guard Color

The yellow front splitter guards on Dodge’s Charger and Challenger have become a major point of conflict among automotive enthusiasts. In one corner, we have traditionalists who believe protective coverings used for shipping have no business appearing on a road-going car. In the other? A bunch of maniacs who think keeping the guards on adds something to the aesthetics, sort of like how you see people maintaining the stickers and tags on a new baseball cap.

Your author has seen a Challenger where the protectors had been on so long, they became sun-bleached and had started to lose their color. Dodge/SRT design boss Mark Trostle expressed his distaste for the trend in October, saying the guards were never part of the concept drawings and basically just ruin the paint.

Despite the issue causing a ruckus online, including some top-shelf trolling, some people still refuse to take them off. Dodge appears to have a plan, however. It’s swapping the protective coverings’ coloring from yellow to hot pink, presumably in an effort to discourage the trend.

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Such a Tease: Fiat Chrysler's At It Again

Remember the ridiculously long lead-up to the release of Dodge’s Challenger SRT Demon? That never-ending trail of breadcrumbs leading to the hottest LX-platform car to date? Yeah, that one.

The teasing grew tiresome after a while. Many buyers and writers (circles that rarely cross) were about to get up and leave the bar, until FCA finally debuted the limited-run, 840-horsepower drag beast.

Well, it looks like FCA’s on the make again.

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50 Years Deep: Dodge Challenger Special Editions Keep On Coming

When Dodge first built a Challenger, back in 1959, it was actually a Coronet. A decade later, the car returned as the spiritual foundation of the coupe we know today. Presumably, the name is intended to represent Chrysler rising to meet the Challenges laid by rival manufacturers already building American muscle. But we can nitpick here endlessly, going back to the 1950s and giving the pentastar brand plenty of credit for going bananas on horsepower.

It would actually take decades for us to realize the Challenger’s true purpose — serving as a canvas for a hilarious number of special edition vehicles. Thankfully, they usually turn out to be fairly enjoyable and totally on brand, leaving us with little to complain about.

For the Challenger’s 50th anniversary, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to offer limited production Dodges in new colors with commemorative bling. It’s basically the same recipe Ford used for the 50th Anniversary Mustang but with some additional brashness from Dodge. However, while those Fords only came in Wimbledon White and Kona Blue, the Challenger comes in every high-impact paint color FCA has at its disposal — including Gold Rush.

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2020 Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak Announced at SEMA

While this year’s Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) event was laden with utilities and pickups, American manufacturers have not forgotten models riding closer to the ground. Dodge presented the latest incarnation of its Mopar Dodge Challenger “Drag Pak” — presumably spelled poorly due to the existence of Ford’s Drag Pack cars. Unlike most vehicles at SEMA, it’s something you can theoretically own.

Normally, SEMA display cars exist to showcase individual parts. While this also applies to the Challenger, Fiat Chrysler’s parts arm is at least interested in offering a comprehensive ass-hauling package. It’s a turnkey racer, something the industry has embraced a bit more fully these last few years. Yet the Drag Pak isn’t a track car meant for curves or corners. It’s all about straight-line speed and is legally obligated to keep itself off public roads because it’s not good at doing anything else.

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QOTD: Winning at Rental Car Roulette?

Last week, we took a moment to recount our worst rental car memories — those times when the desk attendant at Rental Giant Co. was feeling either low on inventory or particularly unkind. Some of you took it upon yourselves to do some extra credit work, offering your winning rental car roulette examples, too.

Well, you can just type them again today, because the best of the best rental experiences is our topic of discussion.

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Stolen Car Study Shows Thieves Now Have Better Taste

After an eternity of seeing the Honda Accord and Civic topping lists of America’s most-stolen cars, tastes have finally evolved. According to the Highway Loss Data Institute’s list of vehicles most likely to be stolen, Hemi-equipped Dodge Challengers and Chargers are now the ride of choice for automotive miscreants. Interestingly, bandits seem to prefer larger vehicles on the whole — with full-sized pickups and large-engined cars topping the charts.

However, there are a couple items that need to be sorted out before we progress. You’ll probably continue seeing Accords, Corollas, Civics, and F-Series pickups on subsequent most-stolen lists. Their volume alone makes them popular targets and any study going by sheer numbers is bound to include them. But the HLDI report quantifies automobiles by their relative risk using insurance data, suggesting its big-boy season for car thieves.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: 2019 American Sports Cars, Ace of Base Edition

Buy/Drive/Burn returns this week with three American sports cars in their most basic, purest form. The Big Three are represented here, and they don’t get any cheaper than this. No options or fripperies are allowed, and one must receive the Buy.

Start your (small) engines — it’s sports car time.

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What Took Them So Long? Dodge Introduces Stars & Stripes Edition for Challenger, Charger

Despite being manufactured in Canada, the Dodge Charger and Challenger feel like the most American vehicles currently on the market. Large, brash, and deliciously unapologetic about it, the vehicles embody multiple historical stereotypes thrown onto the United States citizenry. While those characteristics aren’t a good fit for everyone, Dodge says its holdout muscle cars capture the highest percentage of active military buyers in their respective segments (according to mTAB).

Now, Fiat Chrysler says it’s time for Dodge to “celebrate the men and women who serve our country,” providing a new Stars & Stripes Edition for the Charger and Challenger — along with some fleshing out of their existing appearance packages.

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  • Scott Do any car companies research demographics?going after a shrinking car buying market isn’t a recipe for success.hazrd a guess that most people in their prime car buying years don’t know anything about broncos or give a sht about a heritage model. Going to die on the vine. Bad strategy and failure for future growth
  • MaintenanceCosts The Jeep 4xes are impressive vehicles, even after accounting for the expected Stellantis/FCA lack of reliability. A Wrangler is not of any use to me but this powertrain in a Grand Cherokee L will be on my test-drive list when it inevitably happens.I just wish the gas engine were something other than a coarse and ugly-sounding four. These cars with either the Pentastar or the six-pot Hurricane would rocket right to the top of the list, although I'm sure they would sacrifice a couple of mpg when running on gas.
  • Mike Beranek The suicide door T-Bird in blue is a stunner. I love the look of that car.
  • Cprescott Interesting car. Even in its current condition it looks better than any Honduh made in the last decade. Honduhs already come with a built in junkyard designed look - mishmash of elements that don't work well together.
  • Arthur Dailey Sigh ............. now we are getting to the 'interesting' part.1st tier PLC: Mark III, IV, V and Eldorado. 2nd tier: Toronado, T-Bird, Riviera, Cougar. 3rd tier: Regal, Gran Torino Elite, Cordoba, Cutlass Supreme, Grand Prix, Monte Carlo.