With the brunt of the automotive industry vowing to electrify their lineups and government regulators keen on restricting emissions, many have wondered how the change will impact American brands. While Tesla has managed to solidify the United States as the dominant purveyor of all-electric vehicles, American performance has long been synonymous with exceptionally large motors boasting the kind of oomph foreign manufacturers might consider excessive at a price point that seems downright reasonable.
The concern here is that the changing landscape is about to close the door on American muscle cars for a second time. However, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis is trying to assure the world that this won’t be the case. He’s telling anyone willing to listen that its forthcoming products will continue to deliver the kind of performance Mopar fans are accustomed to.
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.
Rare Rides has featured three of Saleen’s sporty creations in past: A one-off Thunderbird styling exercise, a hot hatchback, and the company’s full-on supercar. Today’s Rare Ride is probably more familiar than those other three, as it’s Saleen’s most basic take on the SN-95 Mustang.
Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis has repeatedly suggested that electrification would be a keystone trait of tomorrow’s automobiles. But he never sounds truly gleeful about the prospect, injecting the level of joy one might reserve when announcing that the trip to the grocery store after noticing spartan shelves in the kitchen. Kuniskis is aware that Dodge’s lineup caters heavily to automotive size queens and that its ability to manufacture those models is swiftly coming to a close.
Despite the former FCA giving the brand the go-ahead to manufacture V8-equipped behemoths like the Hellcat, the newly formed Stellantis auto group may be less inclined to continue those efforts and the freshly installed Biden administration seems wholly committed to doubling down on environmental regulations that were already at odds with high-output automobiles. Kuniskis typically stops short of discussing these issues as the death knell for automotive performance, suggesting instead that electrification will open new doors for the industry while closing a few others. But he occasionally issues statements hinting that he’s not quite so enthralled with or as hopeful about EVs as his contemporaries.
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.
After writing about more than 2,000 discarded vehicles during the past 13 years, I haven’t found many legitimate machines from the Golden Age of the Detroit Muscle Car. I believe this era started with John DeLorean’s brilliant marketing of the 1964 Pontiac GTO and ended at some point during the 1972-1974 period, depending on how many beers you’ve consumed before beginning the debate about the edge-case vehicles.
Today’s car meets most of the requirements: a GM A-Body coupe with spiffy graphics, a thirsty big-inch V8 engine, and school-of-hard-knocks small chrome bumpers.
Despite being an Italian-American company that will soon align itself with France’s PSA Group, Fiat Chrysler can still be unabashedly American whenever it lets Dodge off the leash. By adhering to the tenets of what (once) made domestic vehicles great, Dodge has bet the farm on providing quality family transportation that can be outfitted with more horsepower than any sane person could want at a price they couldn’t possibly ignore.
Dodge is putting its best on full display for Independence Day, letting the world know its priorities have not changed one iota. Yet there exists a sense — a gnawing feeling — that this could be the final round of truly mental V8 monsters to come out of America. Global emissions regulations and a new corporate structure could mean that SRT’s best may not be seen again for some time.
If that’s to be the case, Dodge has honorably decided to go down singing with some of the gnarliest machines yet to leave its stable.
Maximizing the footprint with which to apply up to 707 horsepower and 650 ft-lbs of torque, the 2020 Charger SRT Hellcat and Scat Pack add a Widebody package to cover their 305/35ZR20 Pirelli tires and 20×11-inch wheels. For the Hellcat, 0-60 mph comes in 3.6 seconds while the quarter-mile elapsed time drops to 10.96 seconds and the skidpad grip builds to 0.96 g. Combined with the additional braking grip and revised chassis tuning, the lap time around an FCA-approved, 2.1-mile road course drops by a massive 2.1 seconds.
The Scat Pack Widebody sees similar improvements, getting to 60 mph from a standstill in 4.3 seconds on its way to a 12.4 second quarter mile. Without the weight of the supercharger and associated plumbing over the nose, the Scat Pack Widebody pulls an even more impressive 0.98 g on the skidpad. Around the same 2.1-mile road course (presumably GingerMan Raceway), the Charger Scat Pack drops 1.3 seconds in Widebody form.
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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- The Oracle Good news is that based on the model years many of these have already been junked or experienced terminal engine failure.
- Lou_BC I'm confused, isn't a Prologue a preview? This would be a preview of a preview.
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