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You’ll notice a couple of new names on the masthead this month, one of them mine. Racing Net Source CEO and Publisher Jeff Burk made me an offer I couldn’t refuse on a phone call in my hotel room in Las Vegas after we had captured runner up in a PSCA race in the MoparMax Maulin’ Magnum. He told me he’d like me to steer this magnificent ship of a magazine and I jumped at the chance.
There will be no radical changes, so devoted readers, fear not. There will be increasing late model Mopar coverage, but we’ll always have classic Mopars in every issue. I want to recognize the long time Mopar true blue fans while acknowledging that a new generation of Mopar performance cars and owners is showing up more and more at car shows, open track days, and all forms of racing. We have the greatest writing, production, and sales staff in the business, and every month we’ll continue bringing you the best Mopar magazine on the planet.
You’ll also note our Editorial Assistant, Alex Rogeo. You’ve seen Alex in these pages piloting the Project Maulin’ Magnum at races. Behind the scenes she’ll be helping me keep track of the myriad things I usually forget as we hop from race to race to car show to Mopar event, and saving me from embarrassing factual and grammatical errors issuing from my laptop.
Last month, Geoff Stunkard wrote about the “lock down” of Chrysler engine computers that has virtually shut down the aftermarket performance market for 2011 and forward Dodge and Chrysler cars. Well, I’d like to pile on and add a few thoughts of my own, call it an appeal to the Powers That Be.
I’m hearing everywhere in the halls of Mopar, from engineers to line techs, that a new breed is in charge. Fiat, makers of Ferrari and Alfa Romeo and now owners of Chrysler, is said to “get it,” to understand that performance is in the core DNA of Dodge products. People who don’t even know the difference between a six pack carburetor setup and a six pack of light beer know that a “Hemi” engine is a thing to fear, so we’re in agreement on this point.
Where we disagree is in the valuation of the aftermarket industry to the success of a “performance” brand car maker. Yes, the performance of a factory stock 392 Challenger SRT8 is mighty impressive. But all factory stock vehicles are a compromise between multiple masters. If you like to bracket race, you’ll want to modify your car in a certain direction. If you like to road race, you have other modification needs. But if you buy a new Chrysler, your needs are no longer relevant. What you see is what you get, period.
Win on Sunday, sell on Monday. Locked out of the PCMs, there’ll be a lot fewer Mopars in the Winner’s Circle on Sundays. I understand that Chrysler has a lot of good reasons to lock down the computers, ranging from liability, to warranty costs, to emissions issues, but all of the cars all of the time? Sorry, that’s not an acceptable approach for a brand that insists “performance” is its core value.
How about an alternative path? A route for performance buyers that acknowledges their right to increase the performance of their cars, even as they acknowledge that they are voiding some or all of their warranty. Chrysler, how about selling unlocked PCMs to owners willing to sign waivers acknowledging that their power train warranty is voided?
And what about when the warranty expires? Shouldn’t these owners have a right to play with their cars? I bought the car, I’m a grown up, I understand the financial risk, and I’m willing to take it. Let me modify my car, my way. I don’t think that’s too much to ask of a “performance” brand now, now is it?