2008 Chicago Auto Show: 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8
Detroit's worst-kept secret officially unveiled
What it Is
2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Preview -- 2008 Chicago Auto Show: Challenger – the name couldn’t be any more appropriate.
Nearly every segment of the car market is afloat with choices. Want a Camry? Consider also the Accord. How about a Silverado work truck? Don’t forget to first get some seat time in the F-150. Competition is strong regardless of what vehicle you’re considering.
Unless its modern American muscle, which for years has been the sole realm of the Ford Mustang. That ends with the launch of the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8, a 425-horsepower pavement-peeling retro ride that’s got enthusiasts salivating and Ford’s pony surely riled.
Why it Matters
It's possible that this is yet another swan song of muscle cars. Sure, there is a new Camaro coming, rear-drive V-8 Pontiac sedans, an updated Mustang heading our way, but there are also 35 mpg CAFE regulations in the not-too distant future, and all the automakers have been warning that V-8s will slowly fade away in favor of more efficient powerplants. So live it up while you can, tire-smoke breathers. We certainly intend to.
The 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 will start arriving at dealerships in April with a starting price of $37,995 (including a $675 destination charge).
What's Under the Hood
Yeah, it’s got a Hemi, one with 6.1 liters of displacement and pushing 425 horses at 6,200 rpm and 420 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm. A five-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode directs the engine’s grunt to the rear set of 20-inch Goodyears. Premium fuel is recommended. Stopping is the job of Brembo vented discs, while the suspension benefits from coil springs, Bilstein shocks, and a five-link independent rear. Put it all together and you’ve got a 4,140-lb. muscle car that hits 60 mph in about 4.9 seconds, stops from 60 mph in about 110 feet, peaks at 170 mph, and crosses the quarter mile in 13.3 seconds.
What It Looks Like
The production Challenger looks a lot like its concept progenitor. So much so, in fact, that you need a map to figure it all out. Differences are few: A grille change, the addition of safety lighting and a fuel filler, and larger more functional side mirrors. Mostly it looks like a 1970 Challenger, but better. Thanks to advances in design, including a shortened version of the current Dodge Charger’s platform, the new Challenger's proportions are much tidier, resulting in a clean and aggressive shape that is clearly retro, but without too much old-school baggage. Three colors will be offered: Hemi Orange, Bright Silver Metallic, and Brilliant Black.
Dodge suggests what you’ll find in the 2008 Challenger SRT8 is a “race-inspired interior” and, to its credit, the coupe has white-faced gauges with a 180-mph speedometer and center display that showcases 0-60 mph times, quarter-mile times, and more. That’s definitely race-inspired, and something you wouldn’t have found on the last Challenger 35 years ago. The five-passenger cabin also features leather seats with special stitching, substantial bolsters and SRT8 embroidering up front, and a numbered dash plaque. Standard features include a 322-watt Kicker sound system with Sirius satellite radio, side-curtain airbags, and stability and traction control systems (hopefully easily disabled for all the drift kings). Unfortunately, as a whole the Challenger's drab interior looks to have been molded from Dodge's generic sedan template.
What Dodge Says
According to the SRT group’s director of marketing, Mike Accavitti, “The all-new Dodge Challenger SRT8 is engineered to give customers everything they want in a modern muscle machine. The new version of Dodge’s American classic boasts tire-smoking performance and head-turning design while offering a wide array of state-of-the-art technology, such as GPS navigation, Keyless Go entry, a MyGIG infotainment system, and UConnect hands-free communication.”
What We Think
Fuel economy and pricey-gas issues aside, we love this idea of a modern-day muscle car war, and Dodge knows that there are many more out there just waiting for an all-American alternative to the Mustang. OK, so the Challenger SRT8 will be built in Canada – that’s still technically America. Still, there’s no denying the appeal of a 425-horsepower Hemi packaged in a sculpted and chiseled interpretation of a 1970’s icon, with the added bonus of contemporary safety and convenience. Yeah, we’re digging it, but that interior is a bit less than groovy.
Photos courtesy of: Dodge