Dodge Challenger R/T Classic: Let's Hope It's Not The End Of An Era.
See a similar shot here: www.flickr.com/photos/zombieite/5181067134/in/photostream
You might be saying to yourself, more boring car pictures. Why should I care?
Well, if you're not into cars, I guess you shouldn't. But if you like cars at all, there's something pretty cool going on right now in American car designs. It's sad that the companies are tanking just as they were starting to get it right. I'm going to do some cheerleading for them here, but I assure you I don't work for these car companies, I don't work for a dealer, I don't know anyone who does, and they certainly aren't paying me. In fact, I have spent my life hating every American car since the 1981 Chevy Camaro. But I'm willing to forgive Detroit for disappointing me for 30 years, and it's all because of this car.
First and foremost, the looks of this one are perfect. I like the new one even better than the old one from 1970. This one is a special edition. It's called the Challenger R/T Classic.
Compromises are involved with any design. I read that the designers of the new Challenger had to fight the marketing team to get permission to be true to the old design (for instance, all other Dodges have an ugly crosshair grill, but it was omitted from the new Challenger). The designers were initially shot down on their idea of retro-looking wheels, and instead we got ugly plastic-clad monsters. Same with the Challenger script logo from the old days.
But after the car was out for a year, the designers were given permission to finish what they'd started by creating the R/T Classic package. This model has wheels that are reminiscent of old Cragar rims and the gorgeous script logo has been restored! They've even revived the old paint colors and the stripe scheme is almost exactly the same one they used to use.
We've entered a new muscle car era. Events are coming into alignment in much as they did in 1969. In 1969, the big three American auto makers all had several great muscle car offerings. Similarly, today we have the new Muscle Car Wars in which Ford has its retro Mustang, Chevy has its retro-ish Camaro, and Dodge has its retro Challenger. 1969 was a period of major change. Today is as well, for better (black president, gay marriage) or worse (absurdly bloated spending bills). Concern for the environment was a new thing back then. It's not new any more, but the governments of the world are certainly taking much more of an interest in it now. I guess I'm ok with that, but I don't like it when they pick on cars. America is cars. Cars are America. Stop trying to change that! Don't feel guilty about owning and driving your car. My father and I disagree on plenty of things, but he instilled a love of cars in me that has never waned. Cars are freedom, independence, and fun. In the 70s, environmental laws killed the muscle cars. There's a good chance that the new muscle car movement will be killed for environmental reasons as well. It may never happen again.
From here on out, we may be surrounded by boring, disposable, plastic, spaceship-looking, appliance cars. At this point, it's not even clear that the American car companies will even be in business much longer. That shouldn't stop you from buying this car; it should encourage you to! This could be the end of an era, or even the end of the automobile as we know it. We've had a good run, and what a way to go out--in a tire-screeching blaze of glory!
This car gets better gas mileage than its ancestor. It emits much less nasty stuff into the air. It's safer. Even so, it's also faster and handles corners much better! The only disadvantages to this one are its weight (almost 2 tons) and the fact that you can't work on it yourself like you could work on the old ones. Have you noticed that nowadays, a "mechanic" is called a "technician"? That's because you're just as likely to see your mechanic holding a laptop as you are to see her holding a wrench.
Old muscle cars have skyrocketed in value over the past 40 years. They sold for around $5-$10K in 1969. Even in a poor economy, perfect examples sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Cars are notoriously bad investments, even when they go up in value, due to storage and maintenance costs. But the ridiculous value of old muscle cars indicates there is a demand for something that is just not being fulfilled with most modern cars. It looks like that message has finally gotten through to the auto makers.
If you like Top Gear, check out this YouTube clip. If you've never seen Jeremy Clarkson review a car, let me summarize. He has been reviewing cars for decades and is known as the king of bombastic hyperbole, hyperactivity, and exaggeration. This review is completely different. Watch it to see how.
This is why I want the new Challenger R/T Classic. Like any American car, it's full of quirks and annoyances, and it will probably spend more time in the shop than in my driveway. But I'm quite sure that when I'm driving it I'll be 6 again, dragging my Speed Racer Hot Wheels car along the carpet, making vroom-vroom noises, ascending through an impossible number of gear changes, climbing to an impossible speed.
I may never have this chance again. Clarkson lived through the Malaise Era of the 70s and watched all the world's most beautiful cars die. He's been around the block a few times. If he's concerned that this is the end, I'm concerned that this is the end.
Here's what I felt when I first took an up-close look at the new Challenger: