Dodge’s resurrected Challenger isn’t perfect. It’s heavy, so heavy that it out weighs the Mustang GT by 600 pounds. The rear wheel wells are too narrow to tuck any really decent sized meats, unlike its pony car competitors. And it’s pretty pricey; nearly $10,000 over the new 5-liter ‘Stang. There’s no stripped-down, frills-free SRT8 – something which hardcore Mopar loyalists have been begging Dodge CEO Ralph Gilles for since the first 6.1L rolled off the assembly line.
But Dodge’s resurrected Challenger – much more than the new Camaro or Mustang – looks like its supposed to. The long flat hood, short rear deck lid, flat, wide grille, and round headlights scream, “Hi, I’m a muscle car. If you’re looking for a nice, subdued grocery-getter, there’s a Honda dealership down the street.”
The Challenger can shake its shortcomings by adhering so strongly to its roots. A growling, big cube HEMI backed with a manual transmission are tantamount to the Challenger’s success. A natural-gas, supercharged V6? No thanks. Give me hemispherical cubes or give me death.
And that is why we can forgive the Challenger its foibles and embrace this big, gnarly street machine.
Thankfully, the new ’11 392 SRT8 brings much more to the table. While advertising 470 horsepower (and another 470 foot lbs. of torque), dyno results have revealed the true brake horsepower more likely at 515 ponies – which is fine by us. Of course, Dodge has poured a lot of love into the suspension, tweaking and polishing the big pony car (we estimate more of a Clydesdale than a pony). Gilles is a pretty overt fan of the Viper and he’s force-fed much of that down the gullet of the new Challenger, wrapping it in GT-style stripes and borrowing much of the rolling architecture.
The first batch of Challenger SRT8s hit the showroom floors as 2009 models, available only in either HEMI Orange, silver or black. The following year provided a greater selection of hues and trim levels, including the lauded R/T. With nearly three years of time under its belt, the Challenger has accrued a healthy aftermarket backing, allowing Challenger owners to really let their freak flag fly in whichever way they so choose.
Recently, Flowmaster released their latest bit of good-fast goodness for those enthusiasts wanting to eke out a little more oomph from their late-model Mopars. Designed for those looking for a complete cat-back dual exhaust system with a more aggressive tone, Flowmaster crafted its American Thunder Kit.
Built with easy fitment in mind, the American Thunder system is made with mandrel bent tubing for maximum performance with specially-selected mufflers. Best of all, the Flowmasters pump out an aggressive exterior rumble while keeping a moderate interior tone and offering improved throttle response, power and mileage.
So when we wanted to do an install of Flowmaster’s American Thunder kit on a SRT8 Challenger, we thought, “Hey, why don’t we do it over at Jay Leno’s Garage?” Since we’re really tight with the Tonight Show host and all (ha ha ha), we skipped over to Leno’s Big Dog Garage with Dave Killackey’s ’10 SRT8. Cat-back are notoriously easy to install and it bolted right on, and in a matter of an hour we had Dave’s Challenger out of the road and smoking the rear meats!
Make sure to check out the video below and watch the mayhem for yourself!