I wasn’t a huge fan of the re-invented Challenger that Dodge released in 2008. It seemed bloated and overpriced -$40,000 – , with a parts-bin-interior and a hideous steering wheel. Granted, I was only 11 when the car was unveiled, and didn’t fully understand the logic behind classic american muscle. It took me a while to understand why the Challenger’s revival was such a big deal. It represented America in one of its high points of excess, an era where Cadillacs reigned as king and any car under 6 Liters could be considered an economy car – that is, until the oil crisis and the invention of the catalytic converter. Interiors didn’t matter, laying down perfect 11’s through second gear did though. As a kid that grew up watching top gear, none of this made sense to me until I started to form independent opinions about car culture over the decades.
Fast forward 8 years to the 2017 Dodge Challenger T/A reveal, and Dodge is still fighting to keep a dying breed alive. The baseline T/A comes with a 5.7 Liter V-8 that’s good for 375 horsepower, while the top of the line 392 offers a 6.4 Liter 8-cylinder with 485 horsepower. All models come with a 6-speed manual standard. A massive ram-air intake and hood pins come standard on the T/A, as well as intake ports through the front headlights, a feature that the T/A borrows from its looney Hellcat cousin. Thick decals along the sides of the car remind the public that they’re looking at a T/A.
With retro style gauges, a desperately needed steering wheel re-design, and a cockpit that seems to engulf the driver, the 2017 T/A is worlds ahead of its brother from 2008.
My opinion of the Challenger could not have changed more since 2008. With the new T/A, dodge has brought back a name absent from American car culture for more than forty years. The 2017 T/A is the epitome of American muscle, meshed with modern day luxuries. In an age of turbocharging and electrifying, a 6.4 liter V8 is the breath of not-so-fresh-air that keeps me going throughout the day. The Challenger T/A – and the other American muscle cars so valiantly fighting to keep the V8 alive – give us that burbly exhaust note that made our 10 year old spines tingle. For so many gear heads, it was some impractical, titillating, and outrageously loud car that sprung us into consciousness and started us down this slippery path. That’s exactly the experience that Dodge is catering to, and I can’t thank them more for it.
All photos taken from Car & Driver.