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SilverFleet
SilverFleet UltraDork
1/14/16 3:20 p.m.

Ever since I saw Vanishing Point as a teen, I wanted an old E-Body Challenger or 'Cuda. I don't know what it was about them, but I just love them. I grew up loving Camaros, Firebirds, and Mustangs, and hell, I even own a Trans Am, but the E-Body cars just reeked a weird awesomeness that I wanted to enjoy. Then, I saw what they were selling for. In college, I even stopped and looked at a worse-than-basket case example of a 1970 340/4-speed 'Cuda that someone pushed out onto their front lawn for sale. Even with no floors and a completely missing C-pillar, it was going for $6500 in 2001 money. That car now is likely over $10k!!! Yeah... um... NO.

Fast forward a few years, and Dodge debuts that awesome Challenger concept car as a rebuttal to the 2005 retro styled Mustang:

The moment I saw it, I said out loud, "I MUST HAVE ONE!!!!!!" But at the time they were released unto the public in 2008 in SRT form, they were lots of money and gas was very expensive, so again, it was not to be.

Fast forward to today. I finally landed a great job at a good company, and my commute has been slashed in half. I was driving about 85-90 miles round trip, and now I'm doing 44 miles. My trusty daily driver Mazda 3, although almost paid off, just crested 100k miles and needs a few things, and with age, it will need more. Inevitably, at some point in the next couple years, I'm going to have to buy a new car. After looking into a few different options, such as a 1-series BMW, Cadillac ATS, and even the Focus ST, that part of my conscience that looks just like my avatar and that had a few too many Miller High Lifes and is playing air guitar to Dokken is saying "Dude!!! Get the damn Challenger already! Get one with a stick! You can't drive cool cars when you're dead! DOOO IIIIT NOOOOOOWWWWW!!!!"

And I'm starting to listen to him.

So, I'm thinking that I want one. I'd be happy with a R/T model with a stick, leather, and heated seats. I'd be even happier with one that has the Super Track Pack. I don't think I really need a SRT model, and besides, they are more money. I read all about these in GRM in a recent issue that talked about what to look for in one if you plan to drive it on track, which was useful. I'd really like to get a 2015-up model, and I'm fine waiting for them to depreciate a little more because they are a lot nicer, especially on the inside. I'm also a big guy. My Mazda is pretty small inside, and the Challenger is a LOT more comfortable inside for me. I've only ever sat in one; I've never driven one.

Let's do one of those good/bad lists:

The Good:

-Just look at it!

-370+ 'Merican thoroughbred horsies and the sound to match

-Spacious inside

-More refined/comfortable/quiet than an econobox

-Parts availability/consumable costs isn't bad

-Supposedly handles pretty well for it's size

-Seems to hold it's value well

The Bad:

-Not the greatest on gas

-It's pretty big, but trunk/storage is small

-The V8 Mustangs and Camaros have more power (Do I need more power?)

-2008-2014 interiors are like sitting in a giant Rubbermaid tote with a set of cheap white faced "indiglo" gauges from a clapped out Honda Civic modded after the first Fast & The Furious movie came out

The Unknown:

-It's a Dodge. Does that mean that in 3 years the thing will be a giant pile of rust and failure?

-Does RWD + 370HP = INSTANT DEATH in a New England winter? Even with snow tires?

-Are they generally giant piles of E36 M3?

-Will Bald Eagles nest in my yard and will I have daily F14 Tomcat flyovers afer I bring one home?

Some pics for reference:

2010 R/T Classic:

2008-2010 interior with the giant "Cerebrus Capital Management" wheel:

2013 Base R/T:

2015 Base R/T (note the new front end, with the 1971-style split grille, BMW-style halo lights and HID's):

2015 Scat Pack R/T from the rear:

2015 R/T Base interior (so much better!!!)

So, does anyone have one? Did anyone formerly have one? What do you guys think? Am I nuts?

NickD
NickD HalfDork
1/14/16 3:28 p.m.

I would totally love to have one and people who I have known have owned them swear by them. They did have some weirdness with the timing system on the 5.7L but I believe Dodge was looking into it and cooking up a special policy. I do recall that it was impossible to get an automatic with an LSD, so heads-up there. The LSD was part of the Super Trak Pak, which only allowed a manual trans which meant no Multi-Displacement System.

I figure that as heavy as they are, with some good tires they should do well in the snow, although I would want to avoid driving one in the snow just because I wouldn't want it to rust out. I heard that these are overall the easiest to live with on a daily basis, compared to the Camaro and Mustang

For as heavy as these cars are, they sure do seem to handle well. I remember Mopar Action took a bone-stock auto SRT 392 to the Spectre 341 Challenge and broke into the 3:41 Club as well as outrunning every car in the stock class short of an R35 GT-R. We had one show up at a race at Cherry Valley Motorsports Park and it absolutely threw down, while looking and sounding awesome.

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/14/16 3:28 p.m.

As someone who is extremely interested in the very similar Charger, this thread is very relevant to my interests. Speaking of, the Charger got the updated interior in ~2012, I wonder why they waited so long on the Challenger?

I want a 2015+ model, too. For one thing, the new front end on the Charger is worlds better than the old one. But the big reason is that the V8 Chargers (and Challengers and 300s) got the ZF 8-speed auto in 2015, and it's a huge improvement over the old 5-speed auto. Not relevant for you, though.

SilverFleet
SilverFleet UltraDork
1/14/16 3:38 p.m.

There's a possibility that I go for an auto. Overall, it would be easier to drive, and SWMBO could drive it easily, but having a true muscle car with a stick would just be so cool.

Another thing: This would be a car I'd keep for a very long time. I don't know if they can improve the styling beyond what they did for the 2015 models. Even the V6 ones look unbelievable! Every time I see one, I have to stare. I might even keep the Mazda around as a beater and park it in the winter.

snailmont5oh
snailmont5oh Reader
1/14/16 3:38 p.m.

My buddy had a 2012 R/T six speed, and it got at least 26 MPG highway. I think he had the Mopar Peformance intake and exhaust on it. It ran pretty good. Last winter, he replaced it with a Scat Pack R/T. Holy E36 M3, does that thing run! It's damn near 500 horse. If I was into new cars, it would make the short list.

92dxman
92dxman SuperDork
1/14/16 3:47 p.m.

It is a shame you can't get a base Challenger with a stick shift. I know its not a v8 but it would be a fun car that returned good fuel economy.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
1/14/16 3:52 p.m.

I've autocrossed a 392 Challenger and it was a hoot! They do handle much better than you'd expect an aircraft carrier-sized car to handle. Also, although the early interiors do have a rubbermaid look--- they operate very well. I actually prefer the interiors of the Challengers to the Camaro or Mustangs, as they are free from gimmicks. Everything you need is right there, easy to read and visible. These cars also offer the best outward visibility compared to the Ford and Chevy----by a longshot. You can actually see out of them, which is refreshing.

I've driven nearly all of the modern Challenger variants from the V6 to the SRT-8, although I haven't had a chance to drive the Hellcat....yet. I like them all. I actually prefer the V6 car to the V6 Mustang or Camaro. To be fair though....I haven't driven the V6 2016 models from either manufacturer.

I like them a lot. Sure, they aren't as good on track as their competition, but as a daily driver, they deliver a comfortable ride, ease of operation, and damn good looks. (lots of thumbs up from strangers)

If you've always dreamt about owning one.....do it! Although I'd get a beater for the Winter.....I'm sure they aren't a lot of fun in the snow / ice.

NickD
NickD HalfDork
1/14/16 3:58 p.m.

I guess interiors are something I never really get hung up on, unless it's a luxury car where the interior is supposed to impress. If everything is where it should be and the seats don't leave me crippled after 2 hours, I couldn't care if the dash is all plastic or not. In the case of the Challenger, it's a 370+hp RWD burnout machine, the interior isn't the point. That's just my view, anyways.

trucke
trucke Dork
1/14/16 4:03 p.m.

Bucket list! Do it! Get the one you want with the options you want!

drdisque
drdisque Reader
1/14/16 4:07 p.m.

I've become friends with a guy that autocrosses his 2011 R/T. It's not competitive, but he sure has a lot of fun doing it. One time a more experienced guy got in his car and almost beat me (I'm a mediocre driver in a 135i) and he only runs UHP Summer tires, so they're not completely hopeless. The brakes on the R/T are a little on the pathetic side. I think that would be the main benefit of the SRT in my opinion.

SilverFleet
SilverFleet UltraDork
1/14/16 4:20 p.m.

For the record, I've driven a 2011 Mustang GT. I loved the power, and I could see out of it alright, but the dash, wheel, seats, and interior left a lot to be desired. I tried fitting in a 2010+ Camaro, but my head hit the headliner unless I leaned the seat way back.

Another bit of info... My current fleet of cars consists of the following:

-2012 Mazda 3

-1987 Shelby CSX

-1979 Pontiac Trans Am

-1997 Dodge Dakota

-2010 Mazda 3 (SWMBO's car)

That's 5 cars for the two of us. It's cramped, but it kinda works. If a Challenger shows up, one or more have to leave. I may jettison my CSX project sooner than later to focus on my Trans Am before it rusts into the ground, which will leave an open slot. I will either slide my 3 into the open slot to serve as a winter car/dog taxi or trade it in on the Challenger, I'm not sure yet. Either way, the CSX will be the odd man out. SWMBO's car will need to be replaced soon as well, and she wants a small-medium sized crossover with AWD, something like a Mazda CX-5. That's for another thread.

docwyte
docwyte Dork
1/14/16 4:23 p.m.

Keep the Mazda 3 as your winter driver and commuter. Buy the Challenger. Get an SRT.

Nick (LUCAS) Comstock
Nick (LUCAS) Comstock UltimaDork
1/14/16 4:32 p.m.

I drove an R/T with a manual and absolutely fell in love with it. If I had the dough, I would have one in a heartbeat.

SilverFleet
SilverFleet UltraDork
1/14/16 4:32 p.m.

As far as motorsports with the Challenger goes...

I autocrossed for the first time ever last season. I co-drove my friend's 135i. I was not competitive, and I didn't care. I had a blast! I learned a ton about driving dynamics and that you can basically autocross in anything. I want to autocross my Trans Am when it's up and running again! The Challenger would also serve this purpose. There are lots of upgrades available to upgrade the base R/T to be better at cone dancing.

SilverFleet
SilverFleet UltraDork
1/14/16 4:34 p.m.

In reply to docwyte:

SRT cars are out of range, but they are definitely cool. I'm looking at something in the mid-20k range or less if I can help it. That's why I'm ok with waiting for the right 2015 to fall into range.

Difejo
Difejo None
1/14/16 4:51 p.m.

I have a 2012 3.6L SXT PLUS model and I love it. I am waiting for someone to develop a supercharger for the 3.6L. The SXT plus model is 3.6L - 305hp, leather seats, paddle shift, sport mode for the transmission and 20in wheels. To be honest it is not the best handling car I've driven. I like it because you don't see many of them. Mine is black with grey leather interior and a sun roof. I would love to get a RT but kids in college means I do not have the $$ now.

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/14/16 4:54 p.m.

I drove an R/T Charger in 2011. It was great, but my wife couldn't see over the dashboard. I like four doors more than two, but the Challenger looks great in obnoxious colors the Charger can't manage, so it does have that going for it.

Do it.

WOW Really Paul?
WOW Really Paul? MegaDork
1/14/16 5:05 p.m.
SilverFleet wrote: In reply to docwyte: SRT cars are out of range, but they are definitely cool. I'm looking at something in the mid-20k range or less if I can help it. That's why I'm ok with waiting for the right 2015 to fall into range.

I see plenty of first generation SRT challengers with 6sp manuals with under 50k miles for mid-20's listed on Autotrader. The SRT is worth the extra for sure.

NickD
NickD HalfDork
1/14/16 5:16 p.m.
Brett_Murphy wrote: I drove an R/T Charger in 2011. It was great, but my wife couldn't see over the dashboard. I like four doors more than two, but the Challenger looks great in obnoxious colors the Charger can't manage, so it does have that going for it. Do it.

You mean like Furious Fuschia? I love that Dodge is crazy enough to build metallic pink Challengers.

Personally I would go with Plum Crazy myself. Gotta love Ma Mopar and her paint color names.

Danny Shields
Danny Shields GRM+ Memberand Reader
1/14/16 5:53 p.m.

I have a really cool dad, who used to turn me loose with his 1970 Plum Crazy Challenger R/T. I think Challengers old and new are awesome! Plus the fleets of Charger cop cars indicate to me that the mechanical stuff underneath is pretty tough.

WOW Really Paul?
WOW Really Paul? MegaDork
1/14/16 7:39 p.m.

In reply to Danny Shields:

As reliable as your typical turn of the millennia Mercedes Benz.....

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/14/16 9:03 p.m.
WOW Really Paul? wrote: In reply to Danny Shields: As reliable as your typical turn of the millennia Mercedes Benz.....

How much of that old Benz is even left in a current LX car, though? The basic suspension layout, but not much more, I'd imagine. Certainly the drivetrain is all different, the electronics have to have changed a lot in the last 15 years, interior, etc.

NickD
NickD HalfDork
1/15/16 5:20 a.m.
Tom_Spangler wrote:
WOW Really Paul? wrote: In reply to Danny Shields: As reliable as your typical turn of the millennia Mercedes Benz.....
How much of that old Benz is even left in a current LX car, though? The basic suspension layout, but not much more, I'd imagine. Certainly the drivetrain is all different, the electronics have to have changed a lot in the last 15 years, interior, etc.

The 5-speed NAG-1 automatic transmission that they used until '14 was a Mercedes piece as well. And wow, is that a stout transmission. Guys racing LXs report that aside from the input shaft, the stock internal hard parts are good until 900hp.

Storz
Storz Dork
1/15/16 6:10 a.m.

Do it, I absolutely love them and will own one someday.

Motivation

mapper
mapper Reader
1/15/16 6:13 a.m.

I'm a Mopar fanboi from way back and the new Challenger was in the running but I ended up buying a 2016 Mustang. I wanted to go from project (My Miata) to a plug and play for autocross and track days. My list included the 2016 Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro. The new Camaro promises to be fast and might be a class killer in FS but.... GM and I don't get along and I wanted more headroom and visibility. That left the Mustang and the Challenger. The only thing that kept me out of the Challenger was the price for what I wanted (SRT 392 or R/T with Track Pack) and the overall size and weight. While fast, I just did not see it being competitive at national level autocross (the driver is a separate issue). That left the Mustang and I am very happy with my car.

FYI, I traded in my 2014 Ram 1500 with the 3.6 and eight speed auto. I have nothing but praise for that motor and transmission combo.

The point of my rambling: I did a lot of research on the real world capabilities of all three and would not hesitate to buy a Challenger. Ultimate capabilities for autocross was the only reason the Mustang won.

I will say that it's good that I have more common sense now that I am older. It is real easy to go stupid in any these cars with the power they have.

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