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Is a V10 Challenger SRT10 slated for production?

I saw something at the recent SEMA Show that really blew my mind. Displayed in a prominent spot at the always mouth watering Mopar Performance exhibitor location was a bright red ’08 Challenger. To a casual passer by it appeared to be a slightly warmed over SRT8 dressed up with larger rolling stock and a shaker hood.

But if you walked past this one and headed for the racks of MP cross ram intake manifolds, cylinder heads and crate engines, you’d have missed the small insignias on the shaker bubble reading “Viper Powered”. Yep, this was a factory assembled Challenger with a Viper V10! I gave it a close look and it’s amazing how the big Viper mill was nestled into the engine bay without any obvious redesign work of the firewall or engine compartment. Frankly I was looking for a big notch or even a tunnel to accommodate the long V10, but the stock firewall contours and shape were unchanged.

I had to know more so I asked who was responsible and the MP guys pointed to Tom McCarthy, a product engineer for the exciting Street and Racing Technology (SRT) group. Tom said he and the SRT crew worked under three strict rules as they merged the V10 and the Challenger: 1. the external architecture of the V10 engine had to remain stock, there could be no modifications that would require new induction, rocker cover, or cylinder head tooling. 2. there could be no changes to the Challenger’s “body in white” structure, in particular the fire wall, and 3. they had to make it look production ready. The guys really pulled it off! This thing looked showroom ready.

Based on an ‘08 SRT8 pre-production prototype that was slated to be crushed, I was amazed to hear Tom describe that the firewall didn’t require any reworking to accept the long Viper V10, an amazing stroke of luck since there’s no doubt the LX wasn’t designed with V10 power in mind. Hemis, yes. Viper mills, not so much. Tom said the only custom fabrication required was stuff like a one-piece driveshaft, specific engine mounts, cooling system brackets and simple bits that can be stamped from steel or cast in aluminum if this thing goes into production.

And just like the drive train overkill featured on first generation Challengers with their beefy 8 ¾ and Dana 60 rear axles, the 2008 SRT8 rear differential and half shafts under this V10 mule had been updated to 2009 goodies to ensure durability. It seems Chrysler has upgraded the gears, bearings and added a four-pinion differential with limited slip for 2009. This stuff wasn’t ready back in 2008 so that’s why the debut-year ’08 Challenger SRT8 – with its crazy 425-horse 6.1 Hemi had no limited slip but instead relied on electronic brake caliper modulation to tame wheel spin. But all V8 Challengers – 5.7 and 6.1 alike – share this much improved rear axle unit for 2009.

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