Yearning to relive the muscle era is passé. We're ready to relive the days of high-horsepower super-stock specials being built at the factory. Forty years after Chrysler built its original drag-track specials, the 2009 Dodge Challenger Drag Race Package allows us to do just that.
While vehicle technology has changed tremendously over the past forty years, the premise behind the Drag Race Package cars hasn't: pack plenty of power into a car while stripping out the portly non-essentials. Given the 4140-lb curb weight of the 2008 Challenger SRT8, there was plenty of material for engineers to strip.
Starting with a stock Challenger body-in-white, Mopar's engineers ripped out nearly 1000 lbs of equipment deemed unnecessary for the track. Although the Drag Pack cars will roll down the same Brampton, Ontario, assembly line as the street cars, these models are spared the addition of body sealer, sound deadening, a ventilation system, airbags, and rear seats. If that wasn't enough, Mopar removed the windshield wiper assembly, side- and rear-impact beams - and subsequently, any chance the car can be DOT-certified for the street. As a result, the Drag Race Package car weighs in at approximately 1000 lbs lighter than an SRT8.
While those extra parts remain in Chrysler's parts bins, the Challenger Drag Race Package does gain some new equipment. Included with each package car is a new composite lift-off hood (yes; the scoop is functional), polycarbonate windows, manual rack-and-pinion steering, a lightweight brake system and a good old-fashioned cable throttle linkage. Mopar also modified the Challenger's wheelbase, shortening it a half inch to 116 inches, and pushed the engine mounts rearward for better weight distribution.
Those solid mounts will hold one of three available engines: a 5.7-liter or 6.1-liter HEMI V-8, or a 360 cubic-inch 'Magnum Wedge' V-8, coupled to either an automatic or manual transmission. Although performance numbers haven't yet been released, a typical 360 crate motor produces anywhere between 325 and 395 hp; we'd imagine the 5.7- and 6.1-liter motors will crank out even more power than their street versions, which are rated at 375 hp and 425 hp, respectively.
In order to qualify the Challenger Drag Race Package car to run in NHRA's Comp, Super Stock and Stock classes, Dodge plans to build at least 100 examples for customers and racers alike. Expect pricing to run in the low- to mid-$30,000s - approximately the same as a stock Challenger SRT8.