We Watch Dodge Build a Challenger for the 2008 SEMA Show

Automobile Staff
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2009 Dodge Challenger Sema

No, this isn't a 2009 Dodge Challenger with some mud on the front end.; Instead, this is your first look at a Challenger being prepared by the Mopar Underground team for the 2008 SEMA show in November.

And by first, we mean first.; When we saw the Challenger this morning, it had only been within the shop and under construction for approximately four days.

"We already had a plan for the car," says Mark Allen, chief designer at Jeep/Dodge, "but I got the call on Monday saying we could have it."

The car in question is a 2009 Challenger R/T, equipped with a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 and a six-speed manual transmission.; Previously relegated for photographic duties, the car - a non-saleable unit - had a date with the crusher until Allen intervened.

Instead of becoming pop cans, the car will instead be one of two- to three Challengers making their way to the 2008 SEMA show.; Although we can't yet reveal much about the other cars, designers are quickly working on making this Challenger show-worthy.

According to Vince Galante, a product designer within Chrysler's truck studio, the aim was to make the muscle-bound Challenger as long and lean as possible - with only one caveat.; While they were able to freely raid the Mopar catalog for a lowered suspension and new wheels (sporting 305-profile tires in back), designers weren't able to drastically alter the retro-styled sheetmetal.

In fact, the only major changes lie with a new nose tip and rear spoiler, shown here mocked up in clay.; Although both are subtle tweaks, they're noticeable when parked next to a stock 2009 Challenger.; Galante says the new pieces help the car look longer, while Allen believes they add more character from the original 1970 Challenger to the show car.

Aside from the nosejob, we're told the car will wear a two-tone black paint scheme; gloss paint will be applied below the character line, while a matte black finish (interrupted only by glossy stripes) coats the hood, upper fenders, and roof.; The grille, which will be blacked-out, will be encapsulated by a bright-red surround, tying the front appearance to that of the back.

Though designers have a fairly complete plan for their ride, some details are still in the air.; We're told the hood, for instance, may be substantially tweaked before all is said and done.; Judging by the photos of the 1970 Challenger T/A posted throughout the studio, we wouldn't be surprised if a similar scoop adorned the car come November.

And there's also the matter of the name.; Not Allen, Galante or the PR folks at hand had an official name for the show car - but you might.; Leave your comments on what nickname you'd give this car, and maybe - just maybe - your idea will be picked for the finished product.; Show 'em what you've got.

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