New Challenger ACR rumors hint at near Viper-level performance

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We’ve been daydreaming about a possible track-ready Dodge Challenger since initial rumors of an American Club Racer (ACR) version of the pony car started making the rounds last October. Now, new rumblings about the supposed Challenger ACR from the Mopar site Allpar.com have suggested that the muscle-bound coupe is reaching for a truly high bar.

Dodge Challenger Pikes Peak
Dodge ran a Challenger widebody at Pikes Peak in 2019. Maybe it was a hint at the future ACR. Justin Wilson

According to the newest rumors, this ACR would get an adjustable suspension, some lighter-weight composite body panels, and the same wing as the Viper ACR-E along with a modified Viper ACR splitter. The powerplants hinted at include the guttural 392 as well as the 797-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi from the Hellcat Redeye. We also wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the wide fender flares also make an appearance here, as a way to cram as much rubber as possible under all four corners of the car.

Ever since its reintroduction in 2008, Challenger has been the largest pony car on the block. Its added size makes it a pleasure to drive long-distance and it’s easily the most practical among its peers, which may explain why it has sold so well for so long. All of that also makes it more difficult to turn into a corner-carving machine—every bit of tire’s contact patch will be fighting against the car’s inertia.

More grand-touring muscle car than sports car, the Challenger may have its work cut out for itself if its aiming for the top-performing Mustang and Camaro variants when it comes to track duty. On the other hand, it may not have as much of a weight disadvantage as you might think.

When it got a major interior refresh for 2015, the Challenger also got chassis and safety upgrades that added a bit more weight. Of course the drivetrain components that handle the brutal torque of the supercharged Hemi also add some bulk. Even so, the most powerful Hellcat Challenger, filled with all sorts of luxury amenities, comes in at around 4400 pounds. That is a considerable mass, it can’t really be debated. Yet it’s only about 240 pounds more than the Shelby GT500. Another way to think about it is that if you were to place one average NFL linebacker in the passenger seat of the meanest GT500 that ever rolled off the assembly line, the Mustang’s weight advantage would disappear.

The Allpar rumors suggest that SRT engineers are aiming for a 4000-pound curb weight and have benchmarked the Viper ACR as far as lap times go. While the Challenger won’t aim to be quite as fast around a track as the quickest Viper ever, which isn’t surprising, it could be close. Any time a pony car can nudge into supercar performance territory it’s worth celebrating.

Starting with a 240-pound disadvantage is daunting. Removing weight from a car is more difficult than asking Mike Singletary to climb out of the passenger seat, but it’s not impossible and may not even be necessary to hit the supposed 4000-pound goal. A significant weight difference exists between the GT500 and the Camaro ZL1 1LE and yet reviewers didn’t harp on the Shelby’s bulk. Maybe the Challenger ACR won’t get the same fair shake from critics, but the SRT engineers are a crafty bunch and Mopar has a long history of delivering impressive performance on a budget.

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