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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 Wed, Oct 14, 2009

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

ALIVE AND KICKING By Harvey Schwartz

The all-new Dodge Challenger R/T Classic is a real blast from the past, with vintage flair, modern styling and engineering. It combines the original Dodge Challenger R/T styling with a new 375 horsepower 5.7 liter HEMI V8 engine, Tremec 6-speed manual transmission, ZF-Sach's twin disc performance clutch, rack & pinion steering with a performance gear, sport-tuned, fully independent suspension, dual exhaust, and riding on 20x8-inch alloy wheels fitted with high-performance tires. Inside is a modern, comfortable cabin with vintage accents. Dodge has taken the all-new Challenger to new heights of styling and performance. One look and you'll recognize the old muscle car styling with the long, raised performance hood and dual working scoops topped with the original HEMI badge at each side. The recessed egg-crate grille sports round dual headlamps, Challenger and R/T badges, a lower air-intake, a wide splitter to help keep the front end solidly planted on the pavement and functional design elements to direct air around the front end to further improve aerodynamics. From the side, a bold A-line or character line runs from stem to stern and jumps over the rear wheels as on the original Challenger giving it an instant recognizable muscle car profile. Door mounted side mirrors from the original, Challenger fender badges, bold, full-length, double black side R/T graphics, and a cast metal fuel door are also inspired by the original R/T. The rear is reminiscent of the original with a recessed full-perimeter 'blacked-out' brake, backup and tail lamp clusters with a clear Dodge in the center, a full-perimeter spoiler on top of the end of the trunk lid, a straight, flat bumper and rectangular, polished stainless steel dual exhaust tips nicely spread down below.

The look is as original as it can get as some people I spoke to had to make a double-take as they thought they were looking at an original Challenger from 1970. Under the skin of the car is where modern automotive technology takes over and gives the Challenger R/T world-class power and handling capability. Under the hood lies a reworked 5.7 liter HEMI V8 utilizing Dual Variable Cam Timing, dual spark plugs, a higher compression ratio and performance-tuned dual exhaust system to increase horsepower from last year's 340 to today's 376 horsepower at 5,150 rpm and a massive 410 pound-feet of torque at 4,300 rpm. The sound of the dual exhaust is thrilling, throaty, and music to the ears of any muscle car enthusiast. The high-output HEMI V8 engine is hooked up to a smooth-shifting, modern Tremec TR6060 6-speed manual transmission that utilizes a twin-disc, high-performance clutch from ZF-Sach's. A 2.92 rear axle and limited slip differential really puts the power down on the pavement with the giant Goodyear 245/45ZR20 high-performance tires. These massive tires are wrapped with 'mag' styled 20X8 polished cast aluminum wheels. A five-speed automatic transmission is optional, but the fun and thrills are with the six-speed manual as you can really rev the engine close to its 7,000rpm redline and easily smoke the tires. Crisp, controlled handling and a smooth ride are assured with a modern, fully-independent suspension that is sport-tuned. Up front is a SLA (short/long arm) set with high upper 'A' arms, coil springs over gas-filled shocks, thick solid stabilizer bar, lateral and diagonal lower links and a recessed, strut-tower brace to tie everything together. The rear features a 5-link independent setup with coil springs, link-type stabilizer bar, gas-charged twin-tube shocks in an isolated suspension cradle to lessen noise, vibration and harshness. You steer the all-new Challenger R/T where you want to go with quick response to your inputs due to the unique speed-sensitive rack & pinion steering system that features a performance gear and variable displacement power steering pump. Change of direction is instant like a racecar with a solid feel for the road and great on-center feel.

Large, four-wheel, power-assisted brakes bring the all-new Challenger R/T to a quick and controlled stop. Up front are 13.6-inch vented clamped with dual-piston sliding aluminum calipers with performance pads, while the rear are fitted with 12.6-inch vented discs clamped with single sliding caliper in an aluminum housing using performance pads. Standard ABS and brake assist help with your control and braking power while braking on slick road surfaces. Also helping you remain on your chosen path is all-speed traction control, and electronic stability control. When the time and place are correct, you can turn the systems off and let the rear end slide out during hard cornering. Standard Hill Start Assist makes driving up hills with traffic signals and stop signs safer and easier when you have the 6-speed manual transmission. Powerful and modern, the all-new Challenger R/T can blast out to 60 mph from a standstill in under well-under six seconds. Inside is a mixture of modern technology and vintage accents inspired from the original Challenger R/T. Just look at the trapezoidal them of the door-panel cove and gauge cluster, dark headliner and slanted shifter console brings back memories of the original Challenger. Inspiration continues with the 'four-bomb' gauge cluster with deep, easy to read 160 mph speedometer and 7,000 rpm tachometer with white faces. The 8-way power-adjustable, leather-trimmed, vintage styled ribbed bucket seats are deeply bolstered and heated then finished with French-seamed stitching. The aluminum foot pedals and classic pistol-grip stick shifter are also a throwback to the original Challenger interior. The center stack and door handles features carbon fiber-styled trim for a modern touch, and all dials, buttons and switches are within easy reach. The leather-trimmed steering wheel feature a tilt/telescoping column for the perfect reach and angle to help control your direction while cornering and at high-speeds on the freeway or back roads.

The center console features dual cup holders, two storage slots, a 12-volt power plug and deep storage bin with padded armrest. The rear seats feature the highest headroom in its class along with a pull-down armrest with dual cup holders. The bench seat also features 60/40-split fold down seats along with an easy-sliding seatback to make entry and exit from the rear simple and easy. The passenger-side grab further handle enhances entry and exit. Options inside include an advanced U-connect GPS with voice recognition, navigation system with real-time traffic cues and Universal Custom Interface. My ride featured an AM-FM/Satellite/CD/DVD/MP3 player with a 368-watt amplifier, power sunroof, seven-speaker Boston Acoustic system with a subwoofer mounted in the giant trunk, illuminated interior door handles, push button start/stop, auto-dimming rearview mirror, security alarm, steering wheel mounted audio controls/trip computer, tire pressure monitoring display, iPod interface, universal garage door opener, cruise-control, thick-cut pile carpeting with front/rear floor mats, power/heated fold-away side mirrors, dual-lighted vanity mirrors, power remote trunk release, remote keyless entry, power express front windows/door locks, illuminated entry, variable, intermittent wipers/washers, rear window defroster and a powerful air-conditioner/heater. Keeping you and your passenger safe in the event of a collision include standard front airbags, supplemental side curtain front and rear airbags, three-point safety belts for all five seating with front pretentioners and load limiters, front/rear crumple zones and steel beams in each door. Dodge brings back the memories of the original Challenger R/T with inspired, bold good looks combined with modern automotive technology like no other vehicle from the Big Three American auto makers. If you are looking to drive a stylish throw-back from the past with modern automotive mechanicals then look to the all-new 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T Heritage. Prices start at just $29,320.00 and my nicely loaded model came in at just $37,320.00 including destination charges. I was impressed with the total package and had a ball during my seven-day test drive turning heads and spinning the wheels.

© Words and pictures supra by Harvey Schwartz SUMMARY JUDGMENT Very alive and kicking some tail. For more information about Dodge products, go to More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T Classic Price: $29,320.00 base/$37,320.00 loaded Engine type: 5.7 liter Variable Cam Timing, 2-valves per cylinder Horsepower: 375hp at 5,150rpm Torque: 410lb.ft. at 4,300rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/rear wheel drive Transmission type: Standard 6-speed manual/5-speed automatic optional Front suspension: Independent, SLA with high upper 'A' arms, coil springs, gas-filled shocks, stabilizer bar, lateral and diagonal lower links Rear suspension: Independent, 5-links with coil springs, link-type stabilizer, gas-charged twin-tube shocks, Isolated suspension cradle Wheels/tires: 20X8in. cast aluminum wheels, 245/45ZR20in. Goodyear RSA tires Brakes: Front-13.7in. vented discs/dual piston calipers Rear: 12.6in. vented discs/single sliding calipers in aluminum housing Total length: 197.7in. Total width: 75.7in. Total height: 57.1in. Curb weight: 3,995lbs. EPA mileage: 16mpg/city, 25mpg/highway 6-speed manual 0-60mph: 5.0sec.

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