When Chrysler teased us with some drawings of what we should expect to see at SEMA this year, we couldn’t wait to see them in person. Suffice to say, Mopar didn’t disappoint and we loved the cars and engines that they brought to show us all that horsepower and style are still alive at the Pentastar. They even managed to pique our interest with a modded up Fiat, complete with sliding ragtop and flared fenders. It’s still a Fiat, but it’s cool enough to share.
One of the featured guests was ventriloquist and comedian Jeff Dunham, who helped unveil a 2012 Challenger that he played a part in designing. Dunham got up on stage for the unveiling along with Mopar President and CEO Pietro Gorlier, SRT President and CEO Ralph Giles and Alan Palmer from Palmer’s Customs. The car, Project Ultraviolet, began life on the drawing board and Dunham helped bring it to life with the help of Palmer.
The 426 crate engine puts out about 515 horsepower and 490 lb-ft of torque, and sends power to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual trans. The 22 inch matte black HRE wheels add perfect contrast to the lowered Challenger. The interior has full-grain Nappa leather seats, a Hurst short-throw shifter and Dunham plans to get some use out of it. The body has been widened in the rear by about four inches, and customized from front to rear.
Not to get upstaged by the Challenger, another car we looked forward to seeing was “Juiced”, the Viper V-10 powered Dodge Charger. Finished in metallic Copperhead with a matte finish hood and trunk, this Charger was everything we expected it to be. The V-10 was apparently detuned for emission standards (shakes fist) but still put out a worthy 650 horsepower. The lightweight wheels with copperhead accents may be available at some point from Mopar, as are many of the other parts.
The Viper crate engine, the lowering kit and sway bars, front chin spoiler and rear strut tower braces all carry Mopar part numbers. The cold air intake, front strut brace (to clear the V-10), smoked headlights and matte hood are prototypes, according to the plaque on display with the Charger. Interior accessories are minimal, but the point of this car was to highlight what someone can do with their Charger through Mopar Performance.
In the truck area, we found the RAM pickup and the Sand Trooper Jeep on display, along with a few other custom Jeeps and trucks. The tricked out Chrysler 300 in black with blue pinstriping was a great contrast, and the Jeep Cherokee SRT8 Alpine was also on hand at about center stage. A bright yellow Viper kept itself cozy with onlookers and seemed to be the most visited vehicle, we weren’t able to snap a single picture without at least three people around it.
The engines on display were pretty cool, from old school with multiple carbs to new tech with fuel injection, we’d have to say our favorite was the 572ci crate HEMI. The exploded view of the Viper engine was a nice display, as well, and the emissions compliant crate HEMIs were also on display for the modern upgrades. The engine displays seemed to be all about horsepower and engine swaps, not bad at all.
One final car that we enjoyed was this Fiat 500 on display. Although it’s a new car, the old school touches and custom body mods made it one cool little cruiser. We don’t typically go for compact rides like this, but it caught our eye and couldn’t get enough of it. It would be a cool little car to take a cruise to the coast in, or maybe even a drive up the coast, as long as we can slide back the ragtop and catch some rays.
All in all, the Mopar scene was kicking and filled with people who didn’t seem to mind hanging around and chatting it up with us about concept cars, prototypes and Mopar in general. There were a few who felt that this was what Mopar needed to do, and we couldn’t agree more. SEMA is all about specialty equipment, and completely stock vehicles that you can find in almost any parking lot don’t belong. Mopar belonged at SEMA this year, and if what we saw was an indication of the direction Mopar wants to take us, we won’t mind buckling up for the ride.