Is Dodge cooking up a track-focused Challenger variant?
The Dodge Challenger/Charger siblings are like the Taco Bell menu. Mix the same seven ingredients up a different way, slap on a flashy name, and voilà: market segmentation. It seems contrived, but it’s working—and frankly, we’re suckers for a Hemi, supercharged or otherwise. And it’s a damn sight more palatable than another coupe-like crossover.
The one constant in the Mopar fleet is weight. Like the guaranteed bubbleguts after T-Bell, it doesn’t really matter what variant you get—it’s going to be one hefty car.
Weight is the enemy of high performance, especially when it involves a road course and not just a straight line. That’s why rumors of a track-focused Challenger have our interest… and our attention.
A rumor over at moparinsiders.com cites sources that have hinted that Dodge is working on a track-ready version of the Challenger in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the Challenger nameplate next year. The diet-Challenger is said to feature an extreme aero kit reminiscent of the venerable Viper ACR, gone too soon from this cruel world.
In fact, this spiciest anniversary-celebrating edition may very well carry the ACR (American Club Racer) moniker. In 2011 Dodge introduced a Challenger ACR concept at SEMA that featured extensive amounts of carbon fiber and various other lightweighting measures. So there’s at least some precedent for this type of endeavor somewhere within the Dodge brand.
Wesley Motorsports campaigned a Challenger Hellcat Widebody in 2019, entering it in events like the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hillclimb. Sporting a Bilstein livery and advanced, four-way adjustable Bilstein dampers on each corner, the car could offer a subtle test-bed for Dodge to tweak and tune an eventual factory adaptation of the vehicle.
We want this to happen, but let’s not short-sell the challenge ahead for this, uh, Challenger. Overcoming weight in straight-line acceleration is one thing—and Dodge has proven very adept at dealing with the problem by adding lots of power and torque. Overcoming the same sort of (literal) tonnage when it comes to braking and changing directions takes a lot more work.
And while Dodge has also shown glimpses of this capability (the Widebody Scat Pack is surprisingly solid), making something that unwieldy into a well-behaved tool on track is another thing entirely. Especially it’ll inevitably draw comparisons to the ferocious Camaro ZL1 1LE and Mustang GT350R.
This is all just a rumor at this point, so we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, we’re gonna grab a chalupa.