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Challenger SuperSport!!!

full article.

sound clip:

The annual Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas is much like the host city: It celebrates wretched excess. Not that we have anything against 24-hour all-you-can-eat buffets, silicone-enhanced “hostesses” or 500-hp Honda Civics riding on 20-inch wheels. Trust us, we don’t. The trick at SEMA is to find a real gem or two among all the glam. One of the models (the ones with four wheels, that is) that caught our eye at this year’s show was the Dodge Challenger Super Stock (“Red, White & Bad,” Nov. 6, 2006).

Sure, part of it was the see-it-from-a-mile-away Evel Knievel paint job adorning the latest version of the Challenger, the concept version of which was unveiled at last year’s Detroit show. But what really got our imagination in gear was the 6.4-liter Hemi under the hood cranking out 525 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque.

So naturally, we asked if we could drive it. Knowing Chrysler rarely builds a show car that isn’t a driver, we thought there would be a good chance to slip behind the wheel for some reconnaissance laps. Little did we know that prior to the car showing up in Las Vegas, it got a few shakedown runs by Ron Mancini at Mike Pustelny Racing in Almont, Michigan. MPR has a history of building NHRA Stock and Super Stock cars, as well as Sport Compact drag cars. So when our chance came to be the first journalists to get seat time—at the test track near company headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan—there were no restrictions.

In fact, just to make it clear, Ralph Gilles, vice president Jeep/Truck and component design for DCX and the man who had the car built for SEMA, climbed in and was the first to drop the hammer.

Make no mistake, the Challenger Super Stock is one tire-smoking machine. The fuel-injected 392 Hemi crate motor mated to an A999 TorqueFlite transmission with manual valve body and Turbo Action 3800 stall speed converter, easily transforms the 29x10.5 Goodyear Eagle drag slicks into great clouds of smoke.

“This is built to conform with NHRA standards, with a full roll cage, fuel cell, all the safety stuff,” Gilles said.

“Basically, we looked at what we wanted to do for SEMA and said, ‘What could an individual do if this were their car?’ ”

Gilles’ team worked with the Mopar aftermarket parts group in putting together the show car that is based on the yet-to-be-released production Challenger, a descendent of the 1970-74 muscle cars. Even though the production car is still more than a year away, Gilles said this one-off concept’s dimensions are true to form with what customers will buy in 2008.

“All the proportions are correct,” he said. The chassis came from a cut-down Magnum SRT8 platform. The body panels were hand-built, working from the concept car dimensions. The fabrication was done in-house by DCX employees in Auburn Hills.

No word yet on what an SRT8 version of the Challenger would be, but our first drive of this show car gives us a hint at the possibilities.

Climbing behind the wheel of the Challenger Super Stock is just like getting into a race car. Pop the steering wheel off and then step in over the side roll bar and get comfortable in the race bucket. Hook up the Simpson five-point harness and begin the ignition sequence: Flip the power switch on, turn on the fuel pump and cooling fans and then hit the starter. The Hemi quickly roars to life, and with open exhausts coming right off the headers, it makes some serious muscle-car noise.

We took the car out on a short handling course, but in this configuration, with the drag racing rubber all around, the car had a lot of body roll. A road-racing car this is not.

Get to a straightaway and mash the throttle and all hell breaks loose. The noise is somewhere between a Top Fuel dragster and F-16 fighter jet: exhilarating and scary all at the same time. With the first hit of the throttle, it literally takes your breath away. The noise lasts just a few seconds as the car quickly accelerates up through the gears.

On a couple of runs we bumped up against the rev limiter as the tachometer wasn’t working and the revs come real fast, especially so in first and second gears.

The burnouts would quickly fill the car with smoke, and we could only stand a few minutes at a time behind the wheel as the cabin quickly filled with exhaust fumes. The plexiglass windows didn’t roll down, and there was no ventilation system to speak of, but with big grins on our faces, we hardly noticed.

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Three-speed automatic, heh. Excellent sound clip, man that thing is mean. I've always said that the muscle car is detroits one hope. No matter what Toyota/Honda do, they will never be able to capture that segment. With the challenger and the new Camero, that could definatly make some waves. Sure beats owning a soul-less Camry like everyone else.
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