Way back in 1998, Daimler Chrysler got married. It was a shotgun wedding of “equals” and like many other hasty hitchings, when the honeymoon phase was over, Daimler revealed its true intention was to swallow Chrysler whole. Just before the Great Recession of 2008, Daimler got indigestion, coughed up Chrysler, and divested itself from the bittersweet affair. In retrospect, they should have never gotten married, but there was a golden offspring of the marriage that will go down in automotive history as one of the greatest brand saviors of all time.
When Chrysler realized that they could pilfer a rear drive platform from the Daimler parts pin, the Mopar folks grabbed the CAD/CAM data from an earlier-gen Mercedes Benz 300E and popped it into their computers. From there they stretched, pulled, and modified the data and christened it the LX platform. While they were at it, they made sure a big old HEMI motor fit between the front wheels, and cloaked the new cars in crisp sheet metal penned by future Chrysler design chief Ralph Gilles.
In 2008, Dodge introduced the Challenger, essentially a short-wheelbase Charger, and car fans around the world cooed with delight. Over the last 15 years, the Challenger and Charger have become bread and butter cash cows for Chrysler, erasing any memories of the Mitsubishi-based abominations of the seventies.
Today, Chrysler has sold so many Challengers, they are starting to inhabit used car lots and junkyards and folks are snatching up these old ponies, gussying them up, and making hot rods for the 21st century.
The Achilles heel of the LX base platform is its independent rear suspension. This type of rear suspension is great for ride quality and has become a prerequisite for any serious modern car, but if you want to go really fast, either on the street or strip, an IRS just isn’t as stout as a good old solid axle rear end.
That’s where Moser Engineering comes in. Their new Solid Axle Package is designed to replace the independent rear-end assembly in the modern Dodge Challenger. This package is based on the highly successful Moser M9 Fabricated housing and gives you everything you need to build serious power without breaking the rear end. This unit still gives you a rear that can handle street driving with reliability, and to go well beyond the limitations of even the best independent rear-end upgrades. Tunability is there for the serious racers that are building serious power.
We called Moser Engineering and their rep Jeff Anderson filled us in on the new Challenger rear end.
“There are quite a few Challengers that are starting to make their way down the price guide and you can actually take them and convert them into a drag-pack-style vehicle on a budget. So, while our new rear end isn’t necessarily inexpensive, it’s a lot cheaper to build than a drag-pack style car from the factory. You’re going to have a rear end that basically is a subframe assembly that bolts into the back. What a lot of guys have experienced is once you get north of 1,000 horsepower, you start having some failures.”
“Additionally, there are so many power adders for the new HEMI. From nitrous to Superchargers to a good head combination, it’s really easy to quickly eclipse what that independent rear end can handle. Even with the best half shafts, you really run into some issues with ring and pinion durability.”
Moser came up with a kit that comes with everything you need to complete the solid axle conversion. You can get kit with a set of AFCO shocks as well, so you’ll have all the parts you need to turn your Challenger into a roller in no time.
“So, we came up with a complete package. It’s a fabricated nine-inch rear that allows you to run a nine-inch, nine-and-a-half, or ten-inch ring and pinion that uses our custom alloy axles. The subframe assembly has an anti-roll and torque arm to help plant the power and the subframe connector runs up to the front of the car to help transfer the load. This allows the chassis itself to get a really good bite when you launch the car and you don’t have to worry about anything breaking.
The best part of the new kit is it’s going to give the average guy something better than most racers have out there at the street or track. The Moser system is darn near bulletproof giving you the strength and reliability you’re looking for without having to buy a custom chassis,” Anderson says.
The next question is, what is the skill level needed to install the system? Jeff tells us more. “With this being a solid axle conversion package, it’s more complex than just bolting it in. There is a little bit of welding that’s required, and you have to relocate the fuel tank, a mandatory task when you’re doing something like this. Most likely you are going to be switching to a fuel cell anyway because you’re not using the stock fuel pump.”
Remember, this is on the cusp of a streetable vehicle. So, while this rear end can be used for the street, it is not going to be something your wife is probably going to enjoy driving down to the restaurant, but it is going to give you something that will handle just about any amount of power you can put through the rear end.
Jeff continues, “Last but not least, the package has track locators, lower control arms, and a torque arm, everything you need to suspend the rear end. We also offer it with springs and shocks. You can tailor the system to your exact specifications too. We can set it up to work with a streetable kit with Wilwood disc brakes, or if you’re looking to go full-bore drag racing, it can be configured with our Moser drag brakes for the serious hardcore drag racer.”
“You know, if you’ve got the garage and you’ve got the equipment and the tools and you’re familiar with light fabrication, you could absolutely install this over the course of a couple of weekends, depending on your free time. But it’s not a major involved project. We try to keep it as simple as possible. So, to make it as easy as possible to install. If you plan on racing and putting a lot of power through, it’s going to give you something that you can rely on for reliability and tunability for serious racers that are making some big power.”
You can learn more about the Challenger M9 Rear Solid Axle Sub Frame Kit right here on Moser’s website.