Last Call for V8-powered Dodge muscle cars
BY PETER BARNWELL
THOUGH locally built so-called ‘muscle cars’ are long gone from Australia, there’s still plenty of love for the V8-powered sedans and coupes evident in sales of Ford’s Mustang, the locally converted Chevy Camaro and even the recently departed Chrysler SRT. Classic muscle car sales are through the roof in terms of price.
Even left hook versions of US muscle cars are popular Down Under as buyers appreciate that large capacity V8 burbling under the bonnet.
While Ford Motor Company is continuing to produce Mustang with an internal combustion engine probably until the end of the decade, Dodge is pulling the pin next year after seven decades (apart from a hiatus in the middle) of HEMI V8s.
For many petrol heads, it’s a tragedy of Brobdingnagian proportions that their thundering V8 muscle car is going to automotive heaven to be replaced by a whirring, wailing banshee of a thing…. quick and fast though…
But that’s how it is as we ‘transition’ to an alleged cleaner, greener, emissions free future of battery powered EVs.
The cull affects both the Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger ICE cars among others.
Dodge is marking the sombre event by creating a seven-model going away party with the return of its rainbow heritage colours, an expansion of its SRT Jailbreak models, a commemorative “Last Call” plaque under the bonnet on all 2023 Charger and Challenger vehicles, and a new, customer-focused allocation process.
Hopefully that doesn’t create a speculator market where the rights to buy one of these cars are traded online to the highest bidder.
We’ll have to wait and see on that score and trust Dodge has a handle on how sales transactions of these undoubtedly “collectable” cars proceed.
Dodge is adamant the cars will be sold on a first-come-first-served basis. We want one….who wouldn’t?
Dodge says each model “will share a connection to an iconic Dodge model from the past, reaching back to the dawn of the muscle-car era in the 1960s and 1970s.”
The brand will revive three popular heritage colours including B5 Blue, Plum Crazy (purple) and Sublime (green).
Included is the “stealth” modern-era hue called Destroyer Grey in a 14-colour palette.
Both Charger and Challenger R/T models will feature ‘345’ badging on the front guards, a nod the 345ci HEMI V8 residing under the expansive bonnet.
Dodge Demon, Hellcat, Redeye, Scat Pack, Shaker, Jailbreak…. All iconic models that have helped to celebrate a second, recent muscle car age for the Dodge brand, continually upping performance from the brand’s mega-displacement V8 engine and providing customers with a truly wild ride.
This writer well remembers an incident on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles when a wide body, fully optioned Challenger R/T rumbled alongside at traffic lights.
Our Lexus was physically shuddering (in fear?) as the Dodge idled like a rat pack of open exhaust Harley Davidsons.
Then it took off on the green at full throttle accompanied by what sounded like 1000 decibels, practically shattering every window in surrounding buildings, smoking up the rear bags like a funny car. It was a memorable, near shattering experience never forgotten.
But that is pure bad behaviour, unconscionable in our cossetting society….
Putting a positive spin on things Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis said. “We are celebrating the end of an era – and the start of a bright new electrified future - by staying true to our brand.”
“At Dodge, we never lift, and the brand will mark the last of our iconic Charger and Challenger nameplates in their current form in the same way that got us here, with passion both for our products and our enthusiasts that drives us to create as much uniqueness in the muscle car community and marketplace as possible.”
Mr Kuniskis simultaneously announced a forthcoming line-up of seven petrol-powered and “heritage influenced” commemorative models for 2023, saying Dodge is “seizing the opportunity to celebrate in true, over-the-top Dodge style”.
The models – which include a convertible Challenger – were teased and displayed at the three-day Dodge Speed Week event at M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan. Full details and specifications of the models will be released later in Las Vegas this November.
Dodge’s Challenger was the best-selling muscle car in the United States last year, with 54,314 units sold, narrowly edging out the Ford Mustang’s 52,384 units.
In July 2021, Dodge’s owner Stellantis said it planned to invest $35.5 billion ($50.6b) in EVs through to 2025. Stellantis said previously that it would offer an all-electric Dodge muscle car by 2024.
The iconic brand will introduce its first plug-in electric SUV Stateside in the form of the Hornet crossover next year.
Before then, Dodge will unleash its Durango Hellcat SUV for one last production run.
The seven-seat Durango Hellcat was supposed to have a one-year production run, but in response to unprecedented enthusiast demand, the model is re-entering production replete with its brutal 710hp/645lb-ft (522kW/874Nm) HEMI V8 under the ‘hood’.
Dodge has been inundated with orders for the hard-charging family hauler.
In a make-good for traditional muscle car buyers, Dodge is said to be developing an ‘EV exhaust’ that makes Charger Daytona SRT EV as loud as a Hellcat.
Dodge says it is taking a giant step forward on its performance brand’s road to an electrified future, revealing the Charger Daytona SRT this week – a fully-electric concept model the US car-maker says will “shatter conceptions” of what a battery-electric vehicle can be.
The two-door lift back coupe was revealed as part of the group’s Dodge Speed Week event in Detroit alongside the Hornet PHEV and “Last Call” V8-powered Charger and Challenge models.
Dodge said the model will offer an electric vehicle experience unlike any other and promises an industry-first ‘EV exhaust’ system to deliver sound it says is equal in volume to its Hellcat powered models – that’s 126dB!
We’ll wait and see on that one…