As I’m sure we all know, here at CC we have a more…eclectic taste in cars. We shun the restomods and the endless SBC swaps in favor of the unrestored originals, as they were the sort of thing people actually drove “back in the day” instead of the overpolished show cars that we see everywhere. That got me thinking about what sort of car I would go to see in a car show 50 years from now. What would draw my attention over the LSA Swapped Chevy Colorados and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 Replicas?
To say that the Chrysler group is producing an amazing lineup at the moment is an understatement. Their Dart is just the vehicle needed to wash the horrible taste of the Caliber out of our mouths, the 200 that took over from the facelifted Sebring bearing the same name is so good that somebody outside rental fleets may actually consider buying it. Then there are the minivans, which are the best in the business to the surprise of nobody.
But the best thing that they do at the moment is keeping the tradition of the American sedan, the Charger and Chrysler 300 do not have the least intention of appealing to the euro-crowd. They’re big, they know it and carry that flag unapologetically. The Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Edition even holds the fort of designer editions previously manned by the likes of the Lincoln Town Car Cartier and the Cadillac Seville by Gucci. Let’s gloss over the fact that they have Mercedes underpinnings and that the Chrysler Corporation itself is run by Fiat, which is as American as Sean Connery’s accent. And in the spirit of giving a one-fingered salute to globalization and ever more forceful push to greener and cleaner, they also give us a full lineup of extremely powerful Muscle cars.
Can you really go wrong with the “Normal” hemi 5.7L V8? Making 375HP and giving you more than adequate burnout potential for those stoplights where you’re sure there’s absolutely no one to look at your shenanigans, you’d be hard pressed to say no when they offer it to you as an upgrade. But if you want a little more oomph you can always splurge for the optional 6.4L SRT powerhouse, which bumps you to 485HP and the absolute certainty that you have far too much engine in your muscle car, which is not a bad thing really. Finally, if you really want to have the single most insane vehicle that you can have without spending six figures, if you have just received a very large bonus check and you don’t want to spend it on something silly like an extension to your house or a boost to your pension fund there’s the car above. The Challenger Hellcat; which is the apple in the eye of every automotive journalist from Alaska to Key West. Completely unnecessary, hilariously overpowered, with an engine note like a screaming banshee coming for the souls of innocent Optimas and Accords. And, like any good performance car coming from the land of lawsuits the brave, it’s priced far too cheaply at a fiver under sixty grand, gas guzzler tax included. An unrestored one of these will be fetching big money at an auction in the not so long future.
So, where does that leave the Pentastar powered pony? Well, I guess where the original slant six Challengers were, for people who just want the challenger image but don’t want the increased hassle and costs that even the smallest V8 would carry, with the promise of 30 MPG on the highway to boot. Maybe someone who had one when he was younger but now he feels neither inclined nor capable of handling a sports car that can crack 60 in less than four seconds. Just slide in, ease the Torqueflite into drive (Oh thank you Dodge for bringing that name back.) and cruise along to the market or the car show after church.
I don’t dare to fully compare it with the slant six, it’s far too early in the game to see if it’ll be as unkillable as that lovable lump of metal but for the moment it’s playing that role in the lineup, powering everything from the top of the line 200 to the base Ram 1500. On the Challenger’s case it produces 300HP, which I can’t believe we have to call “Not very powerful” based on the context. I still remember my old copy of Car&Driver publishing “400 HP” in giant red letters over a picture of a yellow Ferrari 360 spider and people older than me no doubt rejoiced when the Corvette passed the 300HP barrier again; But it’s sharing billing with engines that are punching at least 75 HP over it. Marketing departments are certainly not going to be calling it to feature prominently in the blurbs; except perhaps for putting “Up to 30 MPG” on them with a teeny tiny little asterisk to hide the fact that no, you are certainly not getting 30 MPG from that SRT 392 Scat Pack (Another name we should be thankful is back.)
I presume that the normal Hemi will make the bulk of sales, followed by the six, mostly to fleets and the aforementioned likely buyers, and the 392 and Hellcat will get the very top end of the market. As they grow older and older people will start be swapping weird engines into innocent V6 models that they got on the cheap because nobody wanted them on the used market and painting them in bright colors. Soon they’ll be featured in car shows across the land, where I’ll get bored of them and pay attention to that lovely unmolested model that has been on the same family since new. Who knows, maybe they’ll accept an offer for it.