The New Dodge Challenger is Ushering in a New Era of Muscle Car Technology, But is It Overkill?

The 2015 Dodge Challenger will be the most powerful muscle car of all time.

The 2015 Dodge Challenger will be the most powerful muscle car of all time.

You probably saw a few classic cars out on the road this past Fourth of July weekend. Everything from restored Model T’s to custom hot rods were cruising the streets, and if you’re an automobile aficionado like myself, you look forward to seeing these vehicles in action every Independence Day. But with so many nice cars to gawk at, there’s usually one of them that stands out amongst the crowd: those composed of American muscle.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a muscle car as “any of a group of American-made two-door sports coupes with powerful engines designed for high-performance driving.” These types of cars are a product of American ingenuity and a testament to everything it takes to dominate those who are smaller than you. Muscle cars are all about power, size and speed. Lots and lots of speed.

While the American automobile industry has been manufacturing cars with powerful engines since the 1940s, it wasn’t until the 1960s when they decided to eschew any notion of convenience or safety and build some of the fastest cars on the planet. Cars like the Dodge Dart, Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang were not only fun to drive, but they also helped define a tumultuous generation.

Designed strictly for speed, golden era muscle cars from the 1960s did not have the sophistication or elegance of their European counterparts like the Lamborghini GT 350 or the Ferrari 400 Superamerica. And while Asia was also producing sports cars like the Mazda Cosmo 110S, they were more concerned with manufacturing economical cars like the Toyota Corolla. It was here in the United States of America where we decided that driving a powerful car was more important than looking fancy or saving a few bucks on gas.

The notion that “bigger is better” began immediately after World War II when America no longer had to conserve its resources for battle. Instead, all that extra sheet metal went into making bigger cars, and manufacturers were then forced to build bigger engines to keep pace. Buick, Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Pontiac were already producing V8 engines at this time, but it wasn’t until Chevrolet introduced their small-block V8 in 1955 and made their version the standard for perfection.

When the Chevrolet small-block V8 came out in 1955, it had a displacement of 265 cubic inches. By the time the 1960s were over, the engine had expanded to a whopping 400 cubic inches. As 1970 ushered in a new era of muscle cars, those that were trying to keep pace with Chevrolet in the 60s decided it was time to go even bigger – most notably, Dodge.

The two most popular muscle cars in 1970 were the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. But that didn’t last long when Dodge unveiled a new car that was larger than both of them and had a much more powerful engine: the Challenger.

The 1970 Dodge Challenger was the answer to the Mustang and Camaro. It was an instant hit among muscle car fans and offered a staggering number of trim and option levels unparalleled in the automobile industry at the time. With multiple engine configurations up to a 440 cubic inch RB V8, over 76,000 units were manufactured during its first production year. Unfortunately, the press was not kind to the Challenger and contributed to its early death in 1974 with a total of 165,437 units sold in in four years.

Despite its demise, the Challenger remained a popular muscle car with many collectors and went up in value during the subsequent years. The demand was so high for the car, that Dodge actually revived the Challenger name between the years 1978 and 1983 for a version of the Mitsubishi Galant Lambda coupe. However, while this car had the Challenger name, it emphasized sportiness instead of muscle. Consumers would have to wait until the 21st century’s muscle car revival to get a true version of the car.

The muscle car revival was sparked in 2005 when Ford introduced the “new” Mustang, based on the original 1964 design. This car brought back many of the aspects people missed from the original muscle cars such as aggressive lines, bold colors and, of course, big engines. The new Mustang was such a success, that it prompted Dodge and Chevrolet to answer back with a new Challenger in 2008 and a new Camaro in 2009. The muscle car era was officially back in action and Americans once again were enthralled with power, only this time the cars were safe and comfortable.

Staying true to tradition, the Dodge Challenger has the biggest engine option out of all the cars: a 392 cubic inch HEMI behemoth with 525 horsepower. While this motor is definitely powerful, it’s still not good enough for Dodge, who has decided to build an even bigger version next year. Nicknamed the “Hellcat” engine, the 2015 Challenger will host the most powerful muscle car motor of all time.

While the Hellcat is a tad smaller than the previous 392 cubic inch Challenger motor, it’s the first HEMI to be factory supercharged. The end result is 378 cubic inches that are capable of producing an unprecedented 707 horsepower with 650 foot-pounds of torque. To put this in perspective, the Hellcat Challenger is more powerful than a Lamborghini Adventador. It’s also the most complete muscle car ever assembled.

“In addition to the awe-inspiring 707 horsepower of the new Hellcat HEMI, the new 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat has been redesigned and totally re-engineered to be the most true-to-form muscle coupe on the market with performance-enhancing technologies inside and out, including the new TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission and an all-new interior inspired by the classic 1971 Challenger.”

–Dodge

It’s clear that Dodge has created a beast of a machine that can’t be matched. And as car manufacturing technology keeps getting better, we can only assume that the new muscle cars will too. But in an era where the automobile industry is actively trying to find alternative fuel methods like electricity and hydrogen, is this too much muscle? I don’t know the answer to this question, but if muscle car history has taught me anything, it’s that we can expect even stronger cars on the horizon.

The horsepower wars are back and they’ve only just begun! Do you think the new Dodge Challenger is overkill, or do you think we should have both fuel-efficient vehicles alongside gas guzzlers?

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35 Responses to The New Dodge Challenger is Ushering in a New Era of Muscle Car Technology, But is It Overkill?

  1. Harley Walter July 8, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    I’ve always loved muscle cars, had a couple of them a few “lot of” years back. My favorite was a new 1968 Sting Ray with 427 cu. in. with a soft and hard top. Before that I had a 1964 Chevy Super Sport 409 cu. in. with two 4 barrel carbs. The up coming 2015 Charger gives me a warm feeling all over.

    • woolfman72 July 8, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

      I have to agree . I own a 2013 R/T Charger .. But i really like the 15′s changes to the front and rear end.

  2. Matt July 8, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    The Mustang will probably still beat it, even with less horsepower. Lol

    • tj July 8, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

      if it doesn’t break down and fall apart at the gate.

    • Chris July 8, 2014 at 8:42 pm #

      And the small 4 cylinder japenese sports cars will still beat the bulky, heavy Mustangs on a track with turns ans slaloms. Performance isn’t measured in a straight line.

      • jason July 9, 2014 at 9:25 am #

        All this talk about muscle cars and everyone ine is leaving out the Camaro zl1 lpn 800hp with the Magnetic Ride suspension

    • sean wilson July 10, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

      Keep dreaming

  3. Tom Albrecht July 8, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

    This is Insane and Irresponsible! As if the oil companies aren’t destroying the planet fast enough as it is, they have to put out another Gas Hog?????

    • Jonathan July 8, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

      As you type this on a machine made from oil based products, while wearing oil based clothing, while using electricity sourced from a fossil fuel, while eating a hamburger that was raised in a CAFO. Keep on fighting the good fight eco warrior.

    • woolfman72 July 8, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

      Tom enjoy driving your Prius , stay in the right lane and stay the heck out of the way. Mopar FTW.

    • Danny July 8, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

      Yes sir. I’m not sure you understand what 707 horsepower is. I also don’t think you realize how much you contribute to the problem. If you want to take care of the environment, go live in a forest with no modern conveniences, otherwise just appreciate the new 2015 Dodge Challenger.

    • Bob Jones July 8, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

      bet you drive a prius.

    • matt July 8, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

      Don’t buy one.

    • Ronnie July 8, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

      You have no ideal. Most 500hp cars get 20 + mpg out on the road. I have GT500 Mustang and a SRT with 600 hp. and they will do 24 mph on the road trips . Don’t shot the gas gusler bs. I have a 4 banger PT Cruiser that gets 17 in town and only 21 on trip.

    • spank4723 July 10, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

      Turn in your guy card

      • AJ July 10, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

        Tom’s right. You only need that much horsepower on the street if you’re insecure about other parts of your life and need to make up for it.

  4. Be Chego July 8, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    I am in the market for a new car now, since the Hail Storm took out my sedan. This Dodge is now on the list :)

  5. Smokey Tires July 8, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    8-speed automatic and… Let me guess… Non-defeatable traction control that limits horsepower to the too-tall, too-skinny rear wheels to less than 300 to avoid that pesky tire-spin… Yawn…

    • Mark July 10, 2014 at 11:14 am #

      Exactly! Give me some old steel any day

  6. Rob00GT July 8, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    No doubt the Challenger Hellcat will be one scary ride, but this article’s title mentions “a New Era of Technology” and then doesn’t mention a single piece of new technology featured by the car. Don’t get me wrong, 707 horsepower is awesome but apparently at Fiat-Chrysler a supercharger bolted onto an engine is “a new era of technology”. Guess Ford was ahead of the game when they supercharged the Thunderbird in 1955 and again in 1989 followed by the Mustang from 2004-2014. How about some details on “technology” in the new model?

    • TbirdJunkie July 9, 2014 at 11:10 am #

      I’m really happy that somebody ELSE knows about the factory supercharged T-birds. Let’s not forget Dusenberg and their supercharged, fuel injected DOHC engines…in the 20s.

  7. Lew July 8, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    It apparently will have 2 separate key fobs, one that throttles back the power (for your limited gas guzzling commuting times) and one that is pure muscle. Not sure if that is more convenient or just more absurd than the in car i-drive type systems you have with BMW or Merc but it is certainly interesting.

  8. Mitchell July 8, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    Lol the 2014 super snake, with its 850hp engine, would give this challenger PTSD right off the line, and then stomp it

    • Zack July 9, 2014 at 7:37 am #

      This Challenger is a factory direct 707hp monster, that can be ordered from a dealer. The Super Snake is a speciality car ordered from a 3rd party builder. While it might boast more HP, it is not a factory direct car, thus comparing apples to oranges.

      • Tracy July 10, 2014 at 9:41 am #

        HP to weight?? What is the pound to HP rate for the Challenger compared to the GT500??

  9. Ben Robinson July 8, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

    I like Motorcycles. The Aprilla, and of past The Britten.

  10. JD July 9, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    “including the new TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission”

    Really!? REALLY!? AUTOMATIC!?!? Worthless.

    • Andrew July 9, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

      Don’t worry there is a manual too

  11. Matthew Keats July 9, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    I have 2 newer cars a 2011 challenger RT and a 2013 Chevy Volt; love them both however, I find myself driving my challenger to work every day.

  12. bigfishnj July 9, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

    The new automatic transmission are stronger, faster and more reliable than manual transmissions. Also is car is 707 hp bone stock from factory, 800 or better hp will be no problem with some tuning and mods.

  13. Soto July 10, 2014 at 9:07 am #

    Let me test drive these wonderful machines, oh and about the gas situation, don’t buy it if i can’t fuel it

  14. Tracy July 10, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    Not a whole lot of technical information in the article. Weight, Top Speed, 1/4 mile time?
    Have they produced a car for testing?

  15. slimeyratbastard July 20, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

    if the green crowd actually paid attention to the real world they would have kept their mouths shut. the new 707 hp challenger has a smaller carbon footprint than the many above mentioned prius’s… check it out before you spout.. those batteries may as well be nuclear waste while most non hybrids are about 99% recycleable… keep fighting the green fight tho

  16. Anthony D. October 28, 2014 at 5:28 am #

    Performance doesn’t only measures in straight road, tracks with turns and slaloms proves the real strength of the car and for fueling this car, I need to sell my other two cars.

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