Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Dodge's Latest Mess

Contrary to popular belief I am not a Mustang fan.  Of course I like them enough to buy them but they are not the car I’m always after.  In fact I absolutely hated them in high school.  The big reason I’ve owned so many is that they are fast out of the box and there are endless aftermarket possibilities.  A Mustang can be easily built to be whatever you want it to be.

Before I bought my first Mustang I was primarily a “Mopar of No Car” kind of guy.  I loved Dodge and Plymouth muscle cars.  To me they always seemed like the underdog that Ford and Chevy people wrongfully underestimated.  Once a guy pulled up next to me in my Duster 340 bragging that his Nova had a 350.  In his mind the bigger number mean he would stomp me and he was sadly mistaken.

So then why am I not driving around in a new Challenger or Charger instead of a Shelby?  Because Dodge treats its heritage like garbage.  To charge a few more bucks Dodge with slap R/T on everything from a minivan to a SUV.  It used to be an exclusive badge for performance vehicles meaning road and track, but now it means nothing.  Then Dodge created SRT as their exclusive performance car but of course we started seeing that show up on Ram pickups and even Jeeps.  Now we have Hellcat which has migrated over to Charger and the word is it will be on a Ram soon.  Dodge does not know how to keep something exclusive or special anymore.

So in the tradition of Dodge whoring out their heritage they announced the Challenger T/A package.  For those who don’t know way back in 1970 when things were good Dodge created a T/A variation of their Challenger to be raced in Trans Am races which is where the T/A comes from.  These were high winding small block 340s with what was called a 6-pack which was 3 two-barrel carbs. They were light and had upgraded suspension and brakes.  Today they are fairly rare and expensive cars.

Now with Ford creating the new track oriented GT350 Mustang and Chevy creating the track oriented Z/28 Camaro did Dodge follow suit and resurrect the Challenger T/A to be a track attack machine like in the old days??  Nope.  It’s a stupid sticker package along with intake and exhaust options that don’t change the horsepower numbers at all.  Oh, well surely keeping with tradition they have something special under the hood like a supercharged 5.7-liter or maybe even a turbo V6??  Nope, instead it’s got the standard 375hp 5.7 or the 485hp 6.4 same as all the other Challengers packages.  With the Challenger T/A they had the chance to stay relevant with Ford and Chevy and create their own track attack car to chase after the competition with.  Just like the special small block 340 6-pack engine of the '70s they could have used a turbo V6 or at the very least boosted the smaller 5.7 V8.  But that would take effort, research, engineering and testing to create.  Stickers and badges on the other hand are easy to apply and cost way less.

So this is why I no longer fly the Mopar flag, Dodge just doesn’t try anymore.  They aren’t the scrappy underdog anymore, they are just behind and not in a cool way.  Hell, they took the Charger which was an amazing iconic car and turned it into a 4-banger hatchback and then into a 4 door sedan.  I’m just glad that Plymouth is dead so we don’t see some modern Cuda abomination out there on the streets.

Pics and info courtesy of Car & Driver

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