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A CLASSIC REBORN

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Jul 27, 2008

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

VANISHING POINT By Harvey Schwartz

After 35 years, the Dodge Challenger two-door performance coupe is back and better than ever. The original Challenger premiered in 1970, and ran through model year 1974. It was the last of the Big Three to offer a pony car to the consumer, and to compete against the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro in TransAm racing. The all-new, five-passenger Challenger captures the emotion of the original two-door, rear-wheel-drive Challenger, but with an updated twist. The exterior design combines Challenger's heritage of bold, expressive, modern Dodge style, while the race-inspired interior is reminiscent of the original Challenger with all the modern amenities and technology that we expect today. The all-new Challenger SRT8 offers exterior styling cues that are signature Dodge. Exterior proportions evoke a bold, instantly recognizable vehicle that has a wide, stable stance on the road. A full-width grille and fog lamps reminiscent of the original Challenger are married to the modern 'Dodge' attitude. The result is an aggressive face that is unmistakably a muscle car. The hood, with a raised center, carbon fiber-like stripes and functional dual scoops, stays true to the Challenger heritage, as does the A-line and beltline.

The new front end also incorporates numerous functional design features including a fascia that directs air around the front of the vehicle, a large black splitter that helps with downforce, and dual cutouts that directs air to the brakes, dual snorkel hood scoops that bring cooling air into the engine compartment. From the side you see a lower and sleeker Challenger with a swept-back windshield pillar, arrowhead rear window appliqué, power remote/heated side mirrors similar to the original Challenger mirrors, pillar-less door glass, flush, pull-up door handles, lower rocker panels, and the 'piece de resistance' a flip-out chrome fuel filler door similar to the original Challenger. A black rocker and valance on the rear amplify the Challenger SRT8's classic aggressive look. The rear spoiler is not only reminiscent of the original Dodge Challenger T/A model, but is a functional part of the new car generating significant rear downforce. Cut through the lower bumper are dual rectangular exhaust tips that help to more efficiently exit the hot gases, and provide a loud growl when you put your foot down hard on the throttle. The crease along the C-pillar and around the rear glass is exactly as seen on the Dodge Challenger concept car, while the full-width graphic for the tail lamp with reverse lamp in the center evokes the original Challenger. I love this car and the way it grabs the attention of everyone passing by.

The race-inspired interior of the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 also utilizes the original Dodge Challenger-and the more recent Challenger concept car-for inspiration, while offering consumers a wide array of modern amenities and interior finishes. Interior highlights include a dark headliner giving it a sinister, more businesslike atmosphere, race-inspired leather seats with added side bolstering and an exclusive orange accent stripe, exclusive stitched accents on the seats and the leather-wrapped, tilt/telescoping, four-spoke steering wheel, four easy-to-see gauges with tachometer and 180 mph speedometer in the center, and an SRT-exclusive Reconfigurable Display with Performance Pages that provide drivers with instant feedback on 0-60 mph time, 60-0 mph braking distance, g-forces and quarter-mile time. The trapezoidal theme of the door and gauge cluster, the dark headliner, and the slanted shifter console are all based directly on the original Challenger. The SRT8 badging, titanium weave instrument panel, center cluster bezel, chrome surround for the gated, leather wrapped stick shifter, and 13-speaker Kicker High Performance AM-FM-CD-MP3 audio system that features a 322-watt amplifier and 200-watt subwoofer, plus SIRIUS satellite radio, are all standard. Chrysler GPS navigation and MyGIG infotainment system are optional. The all-new 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 is the ultimate performance muscle coupe. The two-door, rear-wheel-drive coupe is based on the Dodge Charger sedan platform. Sporting a 116-inch wheelbase, the Challenger is four inches shorter than the Charger sedan. With a low ride height, a brake-lock differential, SRT-tuned coil spring rates, shocks, sway bars, and a uniquely-tuned Electronic Stability Program, the 2008 Challenger SRT8 offers world-class ride and handling characteristics across a dynamic range.

"The 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 is the ultimate modern muscle car-built by gearheads for gearheads" said Kipp Owen-Director, Street and Racing Technology Engineering. "SRT understands what customers want in a performance car, and with the Challenger SRT8, we will exceed their expectations." You will truly enjoy the outstanding performance on the street or on the track. Built on a unibody construction, the all-new Challenger SRT8 features a multi-link short and long arm (SLA) front suspension. The front suspension cradle combines hydroformed steel tube side rails with a stamped box section lateral member to provide the appropriate level of stiffness. The stiffness is tuned to avoid the transmission of noise, vibration and harshness from entering the passenger compartment. The multi-link SLA suspension also provided SRT engineers the opportunity to tune bushing compliances for reduction in road noise, while maintaining vehicle dynamic handling performance. This precision-designed front suspension features a high upper 'A' arm, lateral and diagonal lower links, coil springs over Bilstein monotube gas-charged shocks, and a solid stabilizer bar. The five-link independent rear suspension offers a better ride by allowing for independent tuning of the ride and handling characteristics. Multiple links maintain independent control of camber and toe during suspension movement. Lower unsprung mass offers a better ride and the decoupling of left and right wheels over road imperfections maintains better tire contact with the ground and results in better ride comfort. Multiple bushings in the rear offer the flexibility to tune for ride and comfort. In addition, stabilizer bar attachments to the knuckles provide maximum response to vehicle lean. This precision-designed rear suspension features coil springs, link-type stabilizer bar, Bilstein monotube gas-charged shocks, and an isolated suspension cradle. "The original Dodge Challenger was best known for its straight-line prowess at the drag strip, "said Owen. "The 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 not only lives up to that heritage, but was engineered to offer world-class ride and handling characteristics when on the street, at a drag strip, or at a road course.

The rack & pinion, with hydraulic power assist, steering system has a performance gear that gives better feel for the road, and seamlessly goes where you point it to go. This all-new 2008 Dodge Challenger rides on huge, SRT-exclusive, fully-forged, five-spoke, 20X9 Alcoa aluminum wheels wrapped with 4-season, Goodyear 245/45R20 Eagle RS-A tires. You can option for the 3-season, Goodyear 245/45R20 front, and 255/45R20 rear, F1 Supercar tires, for superior grip and traction. At the heart of the all-new Challenger is the exclusive, 6.1-liter HEMI V8 engine that generates 425 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick. This proven and powerful HEMI V8 engine is a 90-degree V-type, with a deep-skirt cast-iron block with cross-bolted main bearing caps, aluminum alloy head with hemispherical combustion chambers. The valve system is a pushrod-operated overhead setup with 16-valves, conventional hydraulic lifters, all with roller followers. The compression ratio is set at 10.3:1. This high-output V8 is mated to a SRT-tuned electronically controlled five-speed automatic with lock-up torque converter and AutoStick. Three sets of planetary gears provide the individual transmission ratios, while six friction clutches and two overrunning clutches select them. An aggressive first gear ratio provides outstanding launch performance. AutoStick gives you the ability to select a higher or lower gear while the transmission controller calibration prevents fuel shutoff during power shifts. Fully adaptive electronic control of all shifting makes the powertrain feel responsive with harshness. Electronically controlled engine torque management provides smooth full-throttle launches, quick wide-open throttle up shifts and quick two-step, kick-down shifts that are smoother. Extensive use of an electronically modulated converter clutch improves fuel economy while maintaining smooth operation.

Benchmark braking, one of the pillars of SRT, is delivered via a specially designed system for the all-new Challenger SRT8 that will slow and stop the car quickly, safely and predictably. All four wheels are equipped with red, painted Brembo calipers that feature four-pistons each for even clamping performance. These aluminum housed calipers clamp on 14.2-inch vented and grooved rotors up front, and 13.8-inch vented and grooved rotors in the rear. Standard safety features include advanced multistage front airbags, supplemental side curtain front/rear airbags, three-point safety belts for all five places with front load-limiters and pretensioners, front/rear crush zones, steel beams in each door, electronic stability control, all-speed traction control, and ABS braking system. Standard features not mentioned above includes push-button start/stop, remote keyless entry, cruise-control, rear window defroster, power trunk release, A/C, power eight-way driver seat, heated front seats, manual driver/front passenger lumbar adjust, front power windows/door locks, front console with fore/aft sliding armrest, UConnect hands-free communication, rear seat armrest with dual cupholders, steering wheel mounted audio controls, auto-diming rearview mirror, heated, power-remote side mirrors, sun visors with illuminated mirrors, vehicle information center readout, trip computer, universal garage door opener, luxury front/rear floor mats, 12-volt center console power plug, HID headlamps, foglamps, and automatic headlamps. It's clear that SRT engineers and designers have done there work well with the all-new Challenger. It is the real deal in modern American muscle cars with a true retro-modern look of a classic. Under the skin are the added pluses of today's SRT engineering in the form of a potent 425-horsepower HEMI V8, tuned, fully-independent suspension for a smooth ride with exciting handling capability, and world-class braking to keep quickly and safely slow you down. The only thing that I would add is a set of aluminum pedal pads over the two foot pedals to give it an even more, sporty look inside. The Challenger has met its performance targets right on with 0-60 mph in just 5 seconds; 1-100-0mph under 17 seconds; quarter-mile under 14 seconds; 60-0 mph in 110 feet and 0.88 g's on the skid pad. Truly great numbers for any sport coupe.

© Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz SUMMARY JUDGMENT If 'Kowalski' had the new Challenger, he would have evaded the authorities all the way. For more information on Dodge products, go to www.dodge.com  More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com

SPECIFICATIONS Name: 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Price: $37,320.00 EPA mileage: 13mpg/city, 18mpg/highway Engine: 6.1 liter HEMI V8, cast iron block/aluminum heads Horsepower: 425 at 6,200 rpm Torque: 420 pound-feet at 4,800 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/rear-wheel-drive Transmission: 5-speed automatic with AutoStick, tuned by SRT Front suspension: Independent, SLA with coil spring-over-Bilstein mono-tube shocks, solid stabilizer bar, lateral and diagonal lower links Rear suspension: Independent, five-link with coil springs, link-type stabilizer bar, Bilstein mono-tube gas-charged shocks, link-type stabilizer bar, and isolated suspension cradle Wheels/tire: 20X9 fully forged Alcoa aluminum wheels/245/45R20in. front/255/45R20in rear Goodyear F1 Supercar tires Brakes: Front: 14.2-in. vented/grooved Brembo rotors clamped with 4-piston calipers Rear: 13.8-in. vented/grooved Brembo rotors clamped with 4-piston calipers Overall length: 197.7 in. Overall width: 75.7 in. Overall height: 57 in. Curb weight: 4,140 lbs.

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