Home » You Have 13 Days Left To Order A New Dodge Challenger. Here’s Why You Should Grab A Copy Of America’s Last Muscle Car While You Still Can

You Have 13 Days Left To Order A New Dodge Challenger. Here’s Why You Should Grab A Copy Of America’s Last Muscle Car While You Still Can

Dodge Challenger Order Topshot
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It’s no secret that the Dodge Challenger is living on borrowed time. However, I’m not sure if everyone realized just how borrowed that time was. See, Dodge announced on Tuesday that all orders must be submitted by the end of July, which means aspiring owners have 13 days to order their dream Charger or Challenger without risking the chance of merely finding one on the lot. No pressure, right?

Dodge Challenger Lineup

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

For the past 15 years, the Challenger has been a constant. We’re talking about a longer production run than the C3 Corvette here, except the Challenger aged in reverse. While the third-generation Corvette, the historical benchmark for an American performance car that stuck around forever, bogged down further and further into the malaise muck as time went on, the current Challenger started life as a parts bin car and morphed into something great.

Chrysler 300c 2005

Back in the mid-2000s, Chrysler finally had its own mass-market rear-wheel-drive platform for the first time in 15 years, and it couldn’t have been more different from the M Body platform underneath the old Diplomat. The LX platform featured multi-link independent rear suspension, double lower ball joints up front, and was thoroughly modern by the standards of the time. Thanks to the doomed DaimlerChrysler merger, Chrysler had a ton of Mercedes-Benz parts to glean inspiration from, so the underside of an early LX platform car will look vaguely familiar to Benz aficionados. After the success of the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, Chrysler set its sights on something new — a retro coupe revival.

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2008 Dodge Challenger Srt8

The recipe was simple: Take one large sedan, slice several inches out of the wheelbase, remove two doors, drape it in ‘70s-inspired sheetmetal, and give it the most thunderous V8 in the stable. In 2008, the reborn Dodge Challenger made its mark on the world with 426 fire-spitting horsepower and… a five-speed automatic. Alright, so first shots are rarely perfect, but even with the slushbox and the dashboard made of the finest Cerberus Capital Management-era plastics, it got the people going.

2008 Dodge Challenger Srt8 Burnout

For about a year, and then the Challenger’s original engine lineup got completely creamed by the reborn fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro. Look, Chrysler’s 255-horsepower 3.5-liter base V6 was cromulent by mid-aughts standards but weedy by the end of the decade, and the 375-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V8 going toe-to-toe with the Camaro SS’ 426-horsepower 6.2-liter LS3 V8 on price didn’t help either. Once Ford thoroughly revamped the Mustang’s engine lineup to include the 300-horsepower 3.7-liter Cyclone V6 and 412-horsepower five-liter Coyote V8 for 2011, it felt like the Challenger’s legacy was confirmed as a hefty, slightly sluggish cruiser with retro looks and great available V8 noises. However, in 2011, things started to change.

Dodge Challenger 392 Engine 2011

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Sure, the low-poly plastic-fantastic interior remained, but two-out-of-three available engines were replaced with substantially more potent units. The 3.5-liter V6 was replaced with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 for a massive jump in output to 305 horsepower. Not to be outdone, the 6.1-liter V8 in SRT8 models was punched out to 6.4 liters, good for 470 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque.

2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat

For 2015, Dodge dropped the mother of all bombs on the American coupe market. After watching Chevrolet and Ford parade around with 556-horsepower supercharged Camaro ZL1s and 662-horsepower supercharged Shelby GT500 Mustangs, Dodge went bigger, bolder, and more powerful still. Even if you don’t know your valve spring retainers from your valve stem seals, you’ve probably heard of the Hellcat V8. A magnificently malevolent 707-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter cam-in-block lump, this destroyer of worlds reinvigorated the Challenger as a dream car. Here was a reasonably attainable coupe with more power than a Lamborghini Aventador and a factory warranty that would run the quarter-mile in the 11-second range, come with a special red key to unlock the full 707 horsepower, and scream like a banshee when you have the traction to put the loud pedal all the way down. Who wouldn’t want that?

2015 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack

Arguably even better is the way Dodge threw customers a bone if they couldn’t afford the top dog engine. The formerly range-topping 6.4-liter naturally-aspirated V8 was shoved in a new stripper model called the Scat Pack, instantly making the Challenger far more competitive against the Ford Mustang GT and Chevrolet Camaro SS. Oh, and it was even more powerful than the old SRT model, cranking out 485 horsepower. For customers who preferred not to shift their own gears, the five-speed automatic was gone, replaced entirely by an eight-speed ZF-derived unit with significantly more refinement. Oh, and the Tupperware interior was finally gone, replaced with a driver-centric dashboard made of far nicer stuff.

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Dodge Challenger Srt Demon

As time rolled on, the Challenger just kept getting better. The 2018 model year gifted us the insane quarter-mile-focused Demon that came with a crate of speed parts, made 840 horsepower on 100-octane race fuel, and could pull its front tires off the face of the earth given a sufficiently sticky prepped track. In case you were looking for more cornering grip than straight-line speed, Dodge also added a widebody option to the Challenger for fitting massive 305-section tires. For 2019, Dodge downloaded some Demon parts to the rest of the lineup with the 797-horsepower Hellcat Redeye and a naturally-aspirated 1320 model with a transbrake and drag radials. At this point, it was clear that Dodge knew how to market the Challenger — not with sophistication or luxury, but with hot, nasty, rebellious, all-American speed.

Dg023 139cl

Although production may be coming to a close, Dodge isn’t going out quietly. In fact, it’s dropped its most explosive muscle car yet, the E85-fed Demon 170 with 1,025 horsepower, claimed quarter-mile times in the high eights, and a factory warranty. It’s the muscle car that the golden era dreamed of, a horsepower figure that’s historically been the domain of extreme tuners shoved in a facsimile of iconic ’70s sheetmetal. No compromises, just straight-line speed you can finance.

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I’ve been lucky enough to drive a selection of Challengers and can confirm that while not good in a traditional sense, the V8 models are always great. Agility is a hypothetical concept, curb weight is leviathan, seat comfort is middling at best, and fuel economy isn’t in the picture, but if you want big, dumb fun and more emotion than the works of Shakespeare, you’ve come to the right place. The long, weighty throw of the Tremec shifter, the effortless ride quality over awful pavement, the ability to lay rubber for an entire city block in any of the Hellcat models, it all adds up to indisputable proof that the Challenger is the last true muscle car.

2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Rear

The original E-body Challenger only ran from model years 1970 to 1974, but it cemented a legacy solid enough for a rebirth. The 2008 to 2023 Challenger grew powerful enough to ensure immortality. It will soon be replaced by something more modern with the option of electric power, and as we all know by now, the instant hit of fast EVs make them far quicker in the real world than even the most potent muscle cars. Will they be quite as fun? I have my quiet doubts. Not because I don’t expect the Challenger’s successor to be fast, but because I know that any platform developed in the 2020s should be less crude than a platform from the aughts. The Challenger is a bar-brawling cannonball of a car, put on this planet to go really fast in one direction.

2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat 1

Recent cars are technically brilliant, but when every wrinkle is ironed out and sensations start to grow synthesized, the chase towards perfection can neglect emotions. A supercharged V8 feels as real as a double cheeseburger with grease dripping off of it. Sure, too much will kill us all, but don’t you just crave a bite every so often? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what 2024 brings. Until then, grab a slice of that old-timey Woodward Avenue religion while you still can.

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(Photo credits: Dodge, Chrysler)

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Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
10 months ago

They shouldn’t stop making them…hope they come back…Mopar or no car!

Scott Wangler
Scott Wangler
10 months ago

Electric vehicles are souless appliances. Are they a great way to get around? Yes. But are they fun? The best way to put a golf ball in a hole is to walk up to the hole and drop it in with your hand, but not very fun.

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
10 months ago

I’m a fairly decent sort so I don’t fit everyone’s narrow view of who a Challenger driver is. But being a knee jerk reactionary is fun so I’ll gladly make up some lies about you and your chosen rides too. Meanwhile in the real world, I was hoping that Dodge would make a Challenger with the Hurricane engine. I love a straight six.

World24
World24
10 months ago
Reply to  Dodsworth

There are some rumors (more hear-say then anyone actually putting together some insider information) that there will be a new Challenger with the Hurricane I6.
Time will tell though.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
10 months ago

Had a 70 Challenger. Was always curious about these, but the fact that they seem to be owned by total douchebags shut that thought down fast.
Douchebags are why we can’t have nice things.

Clark B
Clark B
10 months ago

I once sat in a Challenger and was immediately struck by how cramped it was. Sort of a reverse TARDIS effect, way smaller on the inside.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
10 months ago

I guess I don’t understand why they’re stopping production if they’re still making money. Is it just time for a new chassis? And this one couldn’t be adapted to EV use? Or is it not hitting safety requirements? Just seems like it would make sense to keep stamping them out til they’re not longer profitable and put your EV cards in a future sedan chassis, and figure out how to make a challenger at a later date when this one can’t be produced anymore.

Last edited 10 months ago by ADDvanced
Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
10 months ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

The answer here is simple and fairly obvious: emissions. Doge/Stellantis made their entire MO V8 ALL THE THINGS for years on end and were slow as hell to adapt to changing CAFE standards. Unfortunately they were too late and don’t have the EVs and hybrids necessary to keep producing monstrous, gas guzzling V8s….whereas Ford gets to keep the Mustang alive in its as-god-intended Coyote V8 form for another generation because they’ve sold enough crossover EVs with the same nameplate to offset it.

GM could probably keep a V8 Camaro alive too if they wanted too but unfortunately they don’t, and it’s a damn shame. Outside of trucks V8s aren’t going to be around much longer, so get em while you can.

Jason Smith
Jason Smith
10 months ago

The third from last picture reminded me, will they be doing a commemorative color transit splitter guard for the last few?

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
10 months ago

I have a love/hate relationship with Challengers. On one hand I definitely love V8s/am dreading their demise, think that these look pretty damn cool, and respect the livability they offer over a comparable Mustang or Camaro.

On the other hand I hate the type of antisocial behavior that these seem to inspire in so many of their drivers. Challengers and Chargers are wildly popular in my area (like every 10th car type popular) and I see people driving them like absolute maniacs pretty much every day, through the city no less. They frequently attract the lowest common denominator of buyer and Stellantis’/FCA’s willingness to finance anyone with a goddamn pulse has made these things entirely too easy get in to.

That’s not the car’s fault, but these will always be a “can you separate the art from the artist” type situation for me personally…and with beat up Hellcats starting to slip into the 40s and find there way onto buy here/pay here lots I don’t think they’re going to stop being a scourge on local roads anytime soon.

Hell, if you need another further evidence of the type of driving these damn things inspire pull up used Challengers on cars dot com or Autotrader and rule out all of them that have been in accidents. Half of the listings go away. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Anyway, I love cheap V8 speed since I’m an American car enthusiast…but most people can’t be trusted with anything more than an RT…and even that’s pushing it considering I’ve seen friggin V6 Challengers doing 120+ on public roads. Blah. Sometimes I think I might want an RT or 392 myself but then I remember what type of attention I’d be drawing from hooners and I rule it out once again.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
10 months ago

Part of it imho is that old musclecars had bias ply tires, in narrow profiles. You could roast em up and nobody really cared about handling, so they were not very wide. Given the low amount of actual grip, it would get loose way easier/earlier/lower speeds/loads. This meant lots of time to correct the slip through more throttle/countersteering/etc.

Today’s musclecars all have radials, in MASSIVE widths because they want to hit that impressive 0-60 magazine time, which is fine, and technically better from a performance metric standpoint, but given how much grip they have, by the time you get PAST that level of grip, you’re likely going a lot faster, with a lot more lateral forces involved, because it had to break that huge contact patch with modern rubber technology. Once that happens you’re likely going off the road or spinning out, it’s a lot harder to correct a car with much higher limits.

Clark B
Clark B
10 months ago

The police have been cracking down on street racing/takeovers here in Louisville, they shared a picture of their impound lot on Facebook and there were soooo many Chargers and Challengers. It’s not a drive through the city if you haven’t seen at least one Charger/Challenger doing something illegal.

Myk El
Myk El
10 months ago

I get you. I decided I wanted to get a V8 manual RWD car. The Challengers, Chargers and Mustangs are super common where I live (Camaros apparently not desirable). I’m close to an Air Force base so we have a lot of young men with just enough money to get those and their driving habits are such that I don’t want to be associated. So I got a 2005 Pontiac GTO.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
10 months ago
Reply to  Myk El

Now THAT is a gentleman’s choice right there. Great pick, I hope it gives you many years of joy. I’ve heard that if any of the Holden sourced parts need to be replaced it can be a bit of a chore but other than that that’s a very solid platform. I still get excited when I see GTOs on the road. They’re a true “if you know you know” car.

I also love V8s am hoping to snag an IS500 in the next couple of years for similar reasons. I want to be able to hear a V8 sing a couple more times before they go away but I don’t want a bunch of buffoons trying to race me all the time. If I get one I may fully de-badge it too, which will leave only the hood bulge and quad exhaust tips to hint at what’s under the hood. Hell I may even take the N badges off my Kona because way too many people know what it is and come looking for trouble.

Fe2 O3
Fe2 O3
10 months ago

The only thing the challenger has over the mustang in livability is the trunk imo ????????‍♂️

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
10 months ago
Reply to  Fe2 O3

Usable back seats as well

Automotiveflux
Automotiveflux
10 months ago

I like that these cars still exist, probably wont ever buy one but still they are cool

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
10 months ago

Funny, I was thinking about the impending demise of the Hemi V8s just yesterday when I was leaving work. My coworker started up his newish Honda Accord next to me, with a tiny whir from the starter and a polite idle so quiet you’d hardly know there was any internal combustion happening at all. Then I started up the 300, which is way more civilized than any Challenger, but still sounds like it’s ordering a Jamaican dessert: “RUM-babababa.” One is far more responsible than the other, and I realize that, but as a car guy who grew up during the malaise years, I feel like I’ve earned a little V8 rumble. We’ll all be driving whisper-quiet appliances before too long; I’m going to enjoy this car while I can.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
10 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

And the worst part of this future – we don’t even get a Jetsons-ish futuristic hum as they motor down the street.

Sure, backup noises (kinda weird and ringtone-y to me) becoming more prevalent, but if we can’t have the rumble of an ICE as we rocket to our destination, can’t we have something to remind us we’re piloting a vehicle and not say using a washing machine?

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
10 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

I think the V8 300s are slept on in a big way

Fe2 O3
Fe2 O3
10 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

I grew up in the 90s idolizing the NSX and others of its ilk. The day I found out I didn’t fit in a NA1 NSX was a sad sad day. But my V8 S550 mustang has been nice consolation. If it was AWD and had a bigger trunk opening, it might be a forever car.

Fix It Again Tony
Fix It Again Tony
10 months ago

The depreciation though … (you’re not getting in an order for a Demon 170)

Vanillasludge
Vanillasludge
10 months ago

The Harley Davidson of cars, with all the positive and negative connotations that includes.

Gen x guys with their hats on backwards will need to shop elsewhere.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
10 months ago
Reply to  Vanillasludge

Very true – it’s been interesting watching how the big three have marketed their pony cars over the last few decades.

Ford has mostly stayed true to its Mustangs are for everyone vision that it’s flogged since the ’60s, but GM and Chrysler have leaned way into the bad boy thing. There seemed to a moment (first year of their rebirth, maybe) where both the Camaro and the Challenger flirted with a more, I dunno, ecumenical posture, but that was quickly overtaken by the hey fighting robots/antisocial tough guy in a tank top vibe.

Fe2 O3
Fe2 O3
10 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Ec·u·men·i·cal
/ˌekyəˈmenək(ə)l/
adjective
representing a number of different Christian Churches
Is that what you were intending?

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
10 months ago

I look forward to no longer running the risk of getting a Challenger as a rental car.

Studdley
Studdley
10 months ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

Hopefully enough are wrapped around light posts that they go extinct.

Last edited 10 months ago by Studdley
Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
10 months ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

I had one as a rental once. For such a large car from the outside, it was surprisingly small on the inside (an inverse Tardis?). I looked like a jackass spinning the wheels on a slight incline just because it was a little damp, and there was more power than traction available. My coworker was jealous, so I let him drive it that week, and he was happy.

It still had the stupid yellow shipping guards on the front splitter.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
10 months ago
Reply to  Duke of Kent

That has been my experience as well. Huge outside, tiny inside, horrid visibility, and not particularly fun to drive other than burnouts (both intentional and otherwise). It’s sort of an odd feeling to walk to the rental car counter and repeatedly chant in your mind “Please give me a Camry rather than a Challenger…”

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
10 months ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

It’s funny that this was the exact same dynamic with the PT Cruiser a decade before. Nobody on a business trip wanted to show up in one of those. Even before Michael Scott got one.

Fe2 O3
Fe2 O3
10 months ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

I mean, I’d never buy one, but the 6-speed R/T rental I got at Budget in the KC airport was fun as hell. Even if I was sliding all over the place like an idiot in the midwest wintertime.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
10 months ago
Reply to  Fe2 O3

I almost ended up with a Challenger GT AWD in Minneapolis in the winter, but when I walked to the car the keys were no where to be found. I instead ended up with a Jeep Renegade Trailhawk, which handled the Minnesota winter much better. The Renegade is fun in the “slow car fast” mentality, where the Challenger just feels ponderous, especially in lifted AWD variant.

Mrbrown89
Mrbrown89
10 months ago

Wait so this one will be retired way ahead of the Camaro? I am not sure if you could still order a Camaro right now. Great time to be alive

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
10 months ago
Reply to  Mrbrown89

Camaros can still be ordered. The 2024 MY is the last call.

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