LEE Q rides the 2009 Dodge Challenger: SRT to the T
Lee Quinones is best known for his prowess with paint cans, but whenever Lee has a second to spare he’s all over Dodge, including his ‘65 Coronet and ‘83 Diplomat. He’s also President of the Brooklyn Dodge’s Car Club, a frequent poster on Moparts.com and a true quarter-miler. We think he’s a natural fit to give the proper and long waited assessment of the 2009 Dodge Challenger, possibly the last great piece of American muscle power to see model year light. Lee took the reigns in an exclusive New York press preview, with proper laps at Englishtown.
There aren’t many cars that I care to drive hard or even look harder under their respective hoods, but the new 2009 Dodge Challenger in any form whether it be a puny 3.5 liter or a snarlin’ 6.1 Hemi head, screams for attention and I mean ATTENTION!
As I call it, all soldiers allegiant to the battle of street supremacy need to take note and heed, these Dodges command respect one gear change and tire chirp at a time. I was given the liberty and awe to drive and rag on these new editions from mother Mopar via a gift invitation from a very excited and curious Tamara Warren. Thank you Miss Lady, may I have another. LOL.
I answered the invite faster than a hamster could power step its own wheel. After the speeches by Chrysler’s design and engineering staff at the test run, both Tamara and I raced with other journalist to get to one of the SRT’s. There were maybe 12 cars waiting and maybe six were SRTs. We lucked out by gripping the steering wheel of the last SRT in the line up.
Drive? Yeah right!
I wanted to race right there and then with no remorse. The growl of the 6.1 engine is the closest I’ve heard out of all the breeds that reflect those Muscle car nights of yore.
Power? Power to spare and dare anyone to come close unless their packing twin turbos. I’m sorry, but I love a car that has enough power to get you into trouble and also to save your life when you need to vacate a stop sign gobbler in a hurry — probably enough power to spread around to all of the rest of the hot pony cars at bat. The six speed manual, which is borrowed from the Viper, is precise and short in the throws with the pistol grip and all. The first gear in the tranny is re-geared to a lower ratio 2.97 coupled with a final drive of 391 in order to really pull this puppy out of any hole like NOW. I also suspect that the engineers had no choice but to gear up because of the hefty price of the Challenger’s weight.
SSShhhiiiiiiiiat, Bring that pup to my Jack-o Lee’s health spa and we’ll shed a few unwanted pounds and make it a feather to wear proudly on your hat. Check it, 3700lbs alone for the politically correct SE 3.5L, so imagine the hard to swallow pork of 4200LBS for the SRT. My personal note on this disadvantage is go exotic light weight metals to reflect its price and at the same time minimize bulk so as to rule the street with a less thirsty animal. The grille is sinisterly applied for the right reasons, Dominance. The rear taillight bar is nostalgically handsome and spartan like the 70’s original. No need to jazz it up since you’ll only see a blurred glimpse of it as the car passes you by like a rude teenager.
I’m personally over the Hemi orange versions that have lately flooded the senses. I’m sorry, Darth Vader wants his blackened, it’s the only way to role heads. Other colors that should grace these assassins are Chartreuse, Gold, Bronze, Kumquat Titanium. The already available B5 Blue option is a good call for the public with a conscience., and if accented with the right color sport stripes could rule the check off box on the dealer order sheet. Silver is a done, tired hue, plus its difficult to color match after a fender mender. Red is screaming for the cops.
Without a long thesis on its track manners, it just simply handles crazy well under power and on the big brakes. Though I was at fault, it tried to get away from me on a few over the top sprints to the corners but retrieved its civility on cue after a few adjusting steering/brake moves. Were these factory ringers? ( a term used to announce the presence of a specially tuned, rigged cheatin’ vehicle) maybe, but what the hell, make them all ringers right from the factory. This is war baby.
We drove a 5.7L burgundy hood/fender stripped RT version back to New York City and it too handled and ran like stink just under a hair notch of its SRT sibling. A great alternative bargain for a screaming demon. If I would to take the leap of faith for a new vehicle rather than my tried and true old Dodge, the Challenger would get the nod for the Mod squad.