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Dodge Challenger SRT8 Review

It is one of the most muscled muscle cars on the streets in the US.

We’d just turned out of Rodeo Drive in Beverley Hills, Los Angeles and were waiting at traffic lights when this thunderous rumble came within earshot. Heads pivotting, we looked for the source of the commotion.

Seconds later, a metallic grey and gold apparition appeared next to us, low slung, mean, wicked and nasty looking. It was a new Dodge Challenger SRT8 Group 2 Widebody. What a name. What a car....

HSV BEATER

Aussies love their HSVs and FPVs but nothing from either of these comes remotely close to the Group 2 Challenger. It is one of the most muscled muscle cars on the streets in the US possibly outgunned only by the forthcoming Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. Who cares, we love the Dodge.

Old and new muscle cars are huge business in the US right now with manufacturers delivering a tasty V8 metal feast to enthusiastic Prius-weary buyers.

The Group 2 rampaged away from the lights with a sound that could shatter windows at 1000 paces, the rear wheels wiggling as the tyres struggled to cope with massive power and torque produced by the supercharged V8. Then the driver pulled up at the next lights. Ha! What a show.

The standard Challenger SRT8 is a good thing equipped with a 350kW/640Nm, 6.4-litre, V8 engine and sundry go-fasts goodies.

WHO'S RESPONSIBLE

The Group 2 version is a considerable step up, built from bits supplied by CDC (Classic Design Concepts) in Michigan. CDC has been adding its visual touch to cars since 1990 but cut loose with the Challenger on the outside and under the bonnet.

CDC's high quality components are favoured by premium tuning houses like Saleen and Roush. They do not build complete cars prefering customers to create cars for themselves. But the Group 2 looks like it rolled off the factory floor.

Inspiration for the brutal-looking beast goes way back into the 1970s Chrysler muscle cars — the Plymouth Hemi Barracuda and earlier Challengers including race versions that competed in Group 2 events of the era. The bulging rear quarter panel extensions have a direct link to the 1971 Plymouth Hemi Barracuda.

THE PACKAGE

What does the Group 2 package comprise? New composite front guards, left and right spoiler canards (side wings) and rear ``billboard'' panel and mudguard well extensions. The new body panels add 12cm to the width of the Challenger.

The visual effect is awesome — and functional allowing the use of much bigger 20-inch wheels and tyres for improved traction and cornering grip. Other CDC options include a stainless steel wire mesh grille, sequential tail lights and a fully functional shaker bonnet system.

CDC can also point you in the right direction for engine mods including a Vortech supercharger that works in conjunction with the shaker system to boost the Hemi V8 to 430kW (575 horsepower) with something like 800Nm.

And out the back, a Corsa exhaust system is essential to deliver  that muscle car sound. Also available is a KW coil over suspension system for better handling together with six pot Brembo brakes on large diameter drilled discs.

BIG TICK

The car we saw ticked all the boxes and would retail in the US for around $72,820 — a mere snip when you look at what HSV and FPV charge for lesser cars. The Group 2 is beautiful in its own way and has more eyeball pulling power than any Ferrari you care to mention.

It's bold and brash topped of with corona ring daytime running lights in the grille surrounding amber blinkers. Woo hoo. We couldn't wangle a drive but reports suggest the performance matches the looks — take no prisoners off the line for a potentially sub 4.0 second 0-100km/h time.

Owners say it delivers capable handling and braking and a sound to rival the Benz SLS on full song. It comes with either a six speed manual or six speed auto. Hope it comes here.

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