2011: Something’s Happenin’ Here, What It Is Ain’t Exactly Clear

It’s early January, and the snow is again falling in the mountains of East Tennessee. The new month brought about a new year, one that will chart the course into the next decade. No matter who you talk to, you find out nobody thinks there is a status quo any longer; everything and everyone is in some form of transition.

For instance, while Dodge as a brand is continuing to offer its normal excitement, new horizons beckon. In November, I took a ride in the new 392 SRT8 Challenger with noted collector Tim Wellborn for a story in the new Amos Auto Enthusiast magazine; the thing is a rocket, and I have no doubt it can top end above 170 mph and run 12-second times as suggested. The short production run (1492 units) ensures that owners will have an exclusive machine while not overly impacting the CAFÉ standards Dodge must adhere to. The visit to Alabama was part of the Hemi Highway tour, a very cool program.

The big deal with the Challenger was the new 392 (6.4L) Hemi mill. I blogged on redletterdodge.com soon after that ride about the well-remembered first-gen Hemi mill that showed up for 1957-58 in big cars, but left its true mark on the world of nitro drag racing during the following decade. Revolutionary technology is part of this newest version of the engine, which has benefited from several air flow and block design changes, but the secret part of the recipe is an intake manifold that physically modifies its plenum and runner positioning at the upper rpm range.

Once reaching approximately 4,900 rpm, the ‘active intake’ system physically revises the runner path and geometry, actually altering the airflow curve. Started on the SRV (Short Runner Valve) applications on the 3.5L, 4.0L and the 5.7L V8 truck engines, this process results in more top-end power output. The primary benefit, however, is to improve low-end torque by having a longer runner available in the lower RPM level, resulting in 470 ft-lbs at 2900 rpm. You cannot see it, but you know that it works. You feel it across the entire acceleration curve.

Dodge and Chrysler overall is continuing its recovery like the rest of the economy. We have been hearing positive signs from several sources on the economy, though the situation is still fraught with peril. The recent appointment of one William Daley, ‘sweet home Chicago-ite’ and a guiding part of the JPMorgan banking monolith, as the new White House Chief of Staff makes any of us even remotely aware of the depth of the banking crisis shudder. If the Fed’s irresponsibility and the global money masters concern you, the inmates are indeed running the asylum with this latest change. The new congressional majority is going to need the wisdom of Solomon to get through the next two years.