The most prolific era of the American muscle car started in 1970, when growling engines, screeching tires, and acrid blue smoke were lit in the night by the glow of a thousand red taillights. 1970 was also the year the original Dodge Challenger was introduced. And while its place in muscle car history could be argued ad nauseam over a sea of Pabst Blue Ribbon cans, the Dodge Challenger made its rep exactly as its name suggests—by bullying its way through a pack dominated by Mustang, GTO, Camaro, Chevelle SS, and even its own big brother, the Dodge Charger.
Now, in 2008, the Dodge Challenger has returned, restyled and revamped. It’s more svelte, high-tech, and refined than the original, while still coming off as a badass, nasty street racer. Elegant and smoothly sculpted with a gentle lean up and forward, the new Dodge Challenger emulates the wide-track stance and driving dynamics of the original. In fact, the new Challenger has an even wider stance with 64-inch front and 65-inch rear tracks and a 116-inch wheelbase—a full 6 inches longer and 2 inches wider than the ’70 model. This gives it a bossy and aggressive driving feel, with great road-holding capacity, while adding to the Challenger’s swaggering attitude. The first edition of the Challenger is the vaunted SRT8, which comes equipped with a 6.1-liter Hemi V8 that churns out 425 horsepower. All that power comes rolling on the standard 20-inch wheels, packed front and back with heavy-duty four-piston disc brakes.
The new Challenger looks every bit as tough and hardcore as the original. Around the outside of the special SRT8 model are a full-width illuminated taillight assembly, a rear deck wing spoiler, the twin hood scoop, and the signature smallish quad headlamps that come deep-set into the darkened, cowled front grill. The best color? Hemi Orange with matteblack exposed carbon-fiber racing stripes.
The Challenger’s not all retro, however. Along with the original muscle car appeal and power, the 2008 version comes packed with modern technology, including standard anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, as well as a full air-bag system. If you really want to leave retro in the dust, add the optional 30 GB hard drive, Sirius satellite radio, and GPS navigation. The real challenge now is finding one. All 6,400 new 2008 Challenger SRT8 first editions are sold out at $40,095. If you want one, plan on chasing it down.