Challenger New vs. Old: Vanishing Point Revisited
"Our sole Challenger has just broken the ring of evil the deep blue meanies
have so righteously wrought — get through 'em baby, get through 'em." —
Super Soul, Vanishing Point 1971
It happens deep in the Nevada desert, just past Austin. On a long, straight
section of road with nothing to lose, our friends in the white 1970 Dodge
Challenger R/T finally put the hammer down. At once, the rawness and purity
of Kowalski's ride pulverizes the well-insulated interior of our 2008 Dodge
Challenger SRT8, shredding the peace inside the modern car's cockpit with
the same brute force Kowalski used to pierce a hole in the cool desert air
38 years ago. Even with my right foot buried, I see nothing but taillights
until they disappear into the desert.
In these few brief seconds, the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 is clearly
defined by its soft edges and quiet Exhaust. Manufacturers don't let us feel cars
raw and unfiltered anymore. Hammering down a desert road with a thin-rimmed
steering wheel and pistol-grip shifter — that's raw. Four hundred and
forty cubic inches and a four-speed — that's raw. Powerslides unhampered
by electronic intervention — that's raw.
In 1970, when Kowalski drove this very road — U.S. Highway 50 through
Nevada — he felt it. And it was raw.
Challenger: Faster than a Speeding Bullitt?
The rebirth of the American muscle car is about a lot more than retro. It's
about pride. It's about recalling a time when Americans looked down the
road to the future with confidence, and they wanted a great big V8 engine
to get them there as soon as possible.
It's no wonder the 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt has our respect. It's
the best version yet of the 2005 Ford Mustang, the car that set Detroit on
fire again with enthusiasm for good old American muscle. Maybe the
fuel-guzzling muscle car won't save Detroit from the challenge to build
cars that people need, but it's surely restored the domestic car industry's
confidence in its ability to do so. And it's shown that Americans can build
cars that are utterly unlike anything you'll find in Stuttgart, Shanghai,
Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur or any of those other places that economists think
they're so clever to know about.
Now that the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 is here, Chrysler is cracking the
seal on its own Mopar-branded can of muscle-car whoop-ass to show that it
understands what's at stake in the muscle-car sweepstakes. The Bullitt and
the Challenger are the two coolest cars in America, and it's only natural
to bring them together.
Challenger Drag Race! - SE vs R/T vs SRT8
MT Technical Director Frank Markus tests the three 2009 Dodge Challenger
variants - SE, R/T, SRT8 - with a three-way drag race and laps around our
figure eight. Read the story here: