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BurnOut Radio: Glad I Didn’t Wait to Buy a Challenger


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IMG_0130-300x225.jpgEveryone knows me for being head over heels in love with the Dodge Challenger. It is the most beautiful car to have ever existed. Well, so certain glasses wearing, mail carrying, car nuts say. So much emotion is drawn from this muscle car and has thus far enjoyed a warm welcome by even the simplist of car lovers. Playing the waiting game from concept to my garage was border line torture. Unfortunately, this reborn beauty may be short lived.

In 2006, Chrysler revealed their newest eye catching concept. Demand of a production model came quickly. Somewhere in the design process, an accountant decided that the best retro muscle car to hit the market in recent years did not deserve a new engine. So it got the standard SRT8 6.1L V8, producing 425 horsepower. Yes, the nostalgia was purposeful, remembering that the old 426 HEMI from the 1970’s had 425hp. But we…cough, cough……enthusiasts were screaming for the more unique 6.4L which would put the approximate horsepower above the coveted 500 mark. However, Chrysler opted for a quick concept-to-production run, which I must say was executed quite impressively, and went with the proven motor.

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It came near the date to finally put an order on the first of the true second generation Challengers. No, I don’t count that piece of *** Mitsubishi Galant that ran from the late 70’s into the mid 80’s. Excitement grew, talk abounded all over the internet forums, and enthusiasts flocked into dealership showrooms to hand over their astronomical down payments. But when they arrived, found that ALL the 2008 models would be AUTOMATICS! I’m tearing up just thinking of that saddening night in December. Don’t get me wrong, this newly designed Dodge Challenger has a smooth and quite responsive 5-speed automatic. Obvious though, the real men who like to enjoy their obscene automotive purchases prefer the love and control that only a manual transmission can give. 6-speed in 2009! Holy Mosses, that means no numbered badge. Crap!

If you purchased a Dodge Challenger in 2008, you got the SRT8. I know, history shows that most manufactures begin pushing the setup that will often bring the most money: the cheaper, lesser equipped cars. I believe Chrysler knew that while the Challenger had unanimously won the hearts of enthusiasts, the common buyer still didn’t “get it”. Let’s be honest, it weighs over 4,000lbs, is larger than many sedans currently on the market, but with two fewer doors, and the concept car’s color was orange when the whole country seemingly wants green. So if Chrysler wanted to bring this reborn muscle car to fruition, the only way to sell it would be to build the enthusiast car, get it out on the street and let others know that Dodge performance is back! Neighbors of the enthusiasts would then go to the dealership, figure out they can’t afford neither the sticker price nor the fuel mileage of the thirsty V8, so they opt for the 3.5L V6 instead. For 2009, Chrysler only sold a meager 25,852 Challengers, compared to Ford’s 66,623 Mustangs that same model year. You may think that’s pretty good, but consider just 10 years earlier, Ford sold a total of 126,067 Mustangs for 1999. Perhaps this is just a sign of the times.

IMG_0131-300x225.jpgFor 2010, the Challenger got updates! That’s right, color choices now include Plum Crazzy Purple and Detonator Yellow, replacing Hemi Orange. Before your favorite colorful finger comes shooting out, let us think about how many other cars out there get any major changes within a year and a half of its generational debut. Yes, the die-hard, mullet wearing Challenger lovers were keeping their fingers crossed once again that the coming model year would include that dreamy 6.4L HEMI, but it didn’t. In reality, the let down wasn’t just the absence of the larger HEMI, it was the absence of really anything new coming out of Chrysler for 2010. Ford debuted the redesigned Mustang, GM released the sexy new Camaro after taking an 8 year break, and Chrysler, well…….brought yellow. Hold on just a second, rumor once again has it that the 2011 model Challenger WILL come with updated powertrains across the board. Please don’t let it be a HEMI Hybrid!

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With US demand growing for more fuel efficient vehicles and Fiat/UAW/US Government owned Chrysler soon producing cars like the Fiat 500 and electric models on the way, the Dodge Challenger has little chance of surviving past its Chrysler-announced 2013 production end, where it may or may not get a 3rd generation update (once again, the Galant can rot in hell before I acknowledge it as a Challenger). If it does, it may come with two extra doors. The second-time demise of the Challenger might not come from popular demand of certain vehicles pushing out the muscle car, but rather the direction, or lack thereof, that Chrysler is headed. Currently, Chrysler is losing money hand over fist. The typical car buyer wants a car that is reliable, fuel efficient, and appeals to women; attributes not typically synonymous with Chrysler products. Therefore, it is my opinion that the Dodge Challenger in my garage will never have many brothers out there on the street. Some may think that’s a bad thing, but I almost prefer it that way.

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Bruce

2016 Cadillac ATS-V gray/black

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