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4 Door Charger Critics, Stop
Your Whining!

Doesn’t anybody remember how lousy things used to be? I’m talking about the entire decade of the Eighties when “The New Chrysler Corporation” was all about spinning an unending line of front wheel drive (FWD) variants off the K-car platform. Sure, these cars, like the bricks in a tall chimney, played a pivotal role in swinging Chrysler back from the brink of bankruptcy, but let’s face it, they made it hard to be a Mopar guy.

I remember all my Ford and GM buddies giving me grief because “their” 5.0 liter Mustangs, Z/28 Camaros, C4 Corvettes, Buick Grand Nationals and Trans Am Firebirds were solid American muscle cars (relatively speaking) while the Charger 2.2 was a joke. I tried to deliver a valid comeback but I was stumped. An unfortunate angle to the sorry state of affairs was that while Mopar dudes could tout the glory of Max Wedges, Hemis, Six Packs SuperBirds and all the rest of the muscle-car machinery, it made us look like we were living in the past. This subjected us to even more ridicule. We were dinosaurs and the competition knew it.

Before all you Mopar FWD guys write me hate mail, I’ll agree that the K-cars (and the myriad extensions of same) were decent basic transportation modules…for what they were. And I’ll admit lust for a clean Omni GLH-S. With its turbo’ed 2.2 in that tiny cracker box body shell, it was the second coming of the 383 Dart, and the “goes like hell” moniker was well deserved. I’ll also readily admit that the turbo Neons are screamers that revisit the value of the Duster 340 and will surely become collectibles in the near future. So I’m one of you, okay? I feel your pain, I share your glory, dig?

But I just couldn’t – and still can’t – get my head around the FWD thing. My buddy, and former boss at Hot Rod Magazine, David Freiburger summed it up so well when he blurted out “wrong wheel drive” during an editorial meeting. Some of the corporate higher ups wanted to know why Hot Rod wasn’t into the FWD sport compact fad. David’s quip hit it right on the head. For what we do with our cars, drag racing, road racing, raising hell, FWD is wrong wheel drive.

So now when I hear uninformed geeks saying the 2006 / 2007 Charger isn’t a real Charger, I want to take them by the ear, toss ‘em into a time machine, and make ‘em re-live the year 1982. Remember those two-page magazine ads showing an obviously airbrushed bright red Charger 2.2 jutting off the page at an aggressive angle? A pretty start, but it quickly went down hill when the ad quoted 0-to-50 mph acceleration times. That’s right, 0-to-50, not the industry standard 0-60 sprint. Why? Because even with a 2400-pound curb weight the Charger 2.2 took 6.9 seconds to hit 50. Want to keep going to 60 mph? Then you can add two to three seconds to the total. 6.9 seconds sure is a lot more sexy than 9.9 seconds, isn’t it.

But wait, there’s more. Powering the Charger 2.2 was Chrysler’s 135-inch carbureted Trans-4 mill. The advertising guys played some more sleight of hand with published power ratings by side stepping the matter of horsepower altogether – which was well south of the 100-horse mark. Instead they focused on its 111 foot-pounds of torque. The Charger 2.2 ad copy appearing in the September 1981 issue of Motor Trend reads; “We took Chrysler’s gutsy new 2.2 liter overhead cam engine, that cranks out 111 foot-pounds of torque at 2800 RPM, hooked on a 3.13:1 final drive ratio, and ‘stuffed’ it into one of the slipperiest missiles ever built in America.” What about horsepower? It was pitifully embarrassing so again, the ad copy writers swept it under the rug and, as they like to say, “accentuated the positive.”

All of which brings us to the new DCX-era Dodge Charger. Guys, let’s stop whining about the fact it’s a four-door. Wake up! This is an honest to goodness rear wheel drive performance car that’s available with not one but two Hemi engines that require absolutely no advertising magic to fluff up. Even with the basic 2.7-liter V6, Charger is a better performer than the old Charger 2.2. Move up to the 250 horsepower 3.5 liter V6 and it can tangle with the once vaunted Mustang 5.0 and IROC-Z. But swing the extra coins for the 5.7 Hemi and you’ve got a low 14-second car on your hands. At the top, go for the SRT8. With 425 net horsepower, this 6.1 Hemi-powered beast runs mid-thirteens and can out drag any Street Hemi-powered Charger from the old days. Think about that.

What’s more, all the great old Charger performance icons are making a return. We’ve got factory fresh Daytonas, Super Bees, R/T’s, even blackout paint if that’s your bag. So let’s make sure we don’t become too jaded as the years roll by and excitement returns to the showroom floor. Remember, those who do not remember the past are forced to relive it. And in the case of Chrysler’s FWD Eighties, let’s not, okay?  

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