October 2008

Back to the Future-and Step on It

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The Challenger is a surprisingly solid car, far better than the class-leading Mustang. And yes, it will do a smokey burnout

Chrysler's latest entrant into the "retro-muscle" wars, the new Dodge Challenger, has been burning up Internet car chat forums and magazine covers since its introduction. It's a car I've wanted to beat the tar out of, but I hadn't found a willing owner until the last week of July in New York City, when I was invited to the 2009 Dodge Challenger Media First Drive.

For the most part, I like the retro-muscle movement, but I feel something gets lost in translation. These new muscle cars really aren't muscle cars in a traditional sense. They are safe, fast, and expensive interpretations of the originals they loosely replicate. They do everything better on paper but run a character deficit when compared to the clunky old originals. Which isn't such a bad thing in a daily driver, but still.