Retro cars are held to a higher standard at TopSpeed. When a designer doesn’t have to spend as much time working on how a car looks, we expect more time spent on performance. This was the standard applied to the 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8 when it showed up on our doorstep. Then again, it wasn’t going to be too hard for us to love a car with a 425 horsepower, 6.1-liter Hemi V8.
We got a little excited about this car. We got a lot of double-takes from people we passed on the street, and the exhaust note is an enthusiast’s dream. As a result, we had a little more footage of the Challenger than we usually do. So here is our review and opinion of the retro exterior and interior. The test drive will be posted in a few days.
This car has all the look of the original. A true badass.
Everything about this car screams that it is out to do bad tings. The slope of the front end gives the car a looked of an angry furrowed brow. The tall and wide rear wheel arches give the Challenger broad shoulders. The slab sides means this car casts a long shadow. Very cool.
The coupe body hides this Challenger’s large size. Original muscle cars were based on large cars, and this one is no exception. The Challenger uses the same full-size platform as the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger. This means it’s not always the easiest to park, but we also get lots of room everywhere. Our Challenger actually over half a foot longer than the original 70s car, and that was built in a time when Detroit’s key to success was to make the cars “lower, wider and longer.”
Someone was asleep in the accessory department. We had a great bright red/orange paintjob (Dodge calls “TorRed”), with some cool looking racing stripes on the hood. From about five feet away, anyone can tell these stripes are made from a faux carbon fiber sticker. It would have been a lot cooler if Dodge had just painted it black.
Aside from the minor complaints, the Challenger is a retro car we can get behind. Dodge caught all the right elements from the original car’s looks. This car was built to go fast, but we still got chills when it idled slowly through our parking lot.
This car is all about the exterior, so some of the elements are forgivable. It is mostly an assembly of parts from the Chrysler parts bin. The climate controls, touch screen navigation system, gauges, and all the other minor elements are known bits from other cars. Anyone who has spent time in a Charger will feel right at home in a Challenger.
There is no three-spoke steering wheel. This is almost a sin in the sports car world, especially a retro sports car. But one thing from the original car that Dodge got absolutely right was the pistol-grip shifter. It’s fun to hold at all times, and it sometimes encouraged unconscious shifting because many of us just kept our right hand on it at all times.
The back seat is a great addition. Because of its big car nature, the Challenger has reasonable seating for three behind the front seats. It’s enough room that you could almost convince your wife that the Challenger is a family car.