The Dodge Challenger’s comeback was not by chance. It wasn’t because of a fleeting fancy by the company. It came from an overwhelming media and public response to the 2005 Ford Mustang. Its retro style carried with it something people are overly fond of nowadays – nostalgia. Dodge took that idea and ran with it – harnessing the designing genius from their 1970 Challenger.
After hashing out the details from their concept, the 2008 Challenger was born. The shape is undeniable and the style was epic. It is hard to look at the two cars and be that surprised they are related. Same roof-line. Same raised rear haunch. Same front and rear fascia shape. The designers hit the nail on the head. If only there had been a vinyl roof?
The front grill is almost exact to the 1970 Challenger’s shape. Four lights round out the curved rectangle and fog lamps add to the throw-back. Air dam adds downforce and covers up the large 245/45R20s in the front. Only one hood available and it is a wonderful homage to the original R/T hood. It is tough to look at the front of this car and not be excited about the speed it promises.
Rear facia is also very reminiscent of gen-1. The backup light is a bit more inter-mixed with the taillights, but it is a wonderful design. Rectangle exhaust is also a distant relative of the ’70 R/T tips and though the noise is a bit less raw, there is enough rumble from the front hood to make anyone smile. Rear tires are a beefier set of 255/45R20s and all tires surround large 5-spoke aluminum rims.
|Model||2008 Dodge Challenger|
|Names & Trims||SRT8|
|Engines||6.1Liter, OHV Hemi V8|
2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8
For 2008, there was only one car to buy – the SRT8. Street Racing Technology – V8. Pretty much sums it up. The car was brought in for one purpose – driving excitement. No, not referring to Pontiac. The Challenger was a full-fledged muscle car again with the horsepower to prove it. No six-cylinder, no four-banger, not even a special turbo version. Just one whopping V8 and enough power to erase the tarmac where you stood. But the car was more than an engine in many ways.
The exterior look is gorgeous, the interior is comfortable and quiet, and the driving experience is sublime. Sporty suspension helps to keep the tires planted while it can still give an easy ride when you are just cruising around. Add to that a laundry list of safety features, and you can see what I’m on about.
2008 Dodge Challenger 500 – Canadian Special Edition
For those who like easter eggs, this is a low-production version made in Canada. The Challenger 500 (named after the Charger 500 of the late ’60s) was only made in 2008 to the tune of 700+ vehicles. Besides the badge on the dashboard and grille, and the fact it is rarer, the car is exactly like the U.S. variety.
2008 Dodge Challenger Specifications, Options, & Interior
|Curb Weight||4140 lbs.|
2008 Challenger Exterior Design
The Challenger having only one option package made for easy decisions. On top of that, there were only 3 colors initially available – Brilliant Black, Bright Silver Metallic, and Hemi Orange. There weren’t any exterior options either, but it didn’t matter. What you got was a fantastic coupe with all the testosterone that an automobile could exude.
This isn’t a small car either. Besides being heavier (more later), the car has a longer wheelbase, is longer and taller than the 1970’s muscle car. It is also wider, taller, and almost a foot longer than the 2005 Mustang it was competing against. It actually was only a couple inches shorter than a 4-door Ford Taurus and it weighed almost 500lbs more. Big indeed.
|Front Leg Room||42.0 in.|
|Front Head Room||39.5 in.|
|Front Shoulder Room||58.2 in.|
|Front Hip Room||54.7 in.|
|Rear Leg Room||32.6 in.|
|Rear Head Room||37.4 in.|
|Rear Shoulder Room||53.9 in.|
|Rear Hip Room||51.4 in.|
2008 Challenger Interior Design
With the retro theme in mind, Dodge used a lot of styling cues from the ’70’s era cars. Console shifter, sporty bucket seats, 4-holed cluster, 4-spoke sport steering wheel, trapezoid door inserts – it’s all there from yesteryear. Don’t think for a minute that the car is a neanderthal inside. There were enough gadgets – even for 2008 – to impress the tech-savvy.
|Electronic Brakeforce Dist.||Child Seat Anchors|
|Emergency Braking Assist||Stability Control|
|Emergency Int. Trunk Rel.||Dusk Sensing Headlamps|
|Rear Center 3-pt Belt||Xenon High-Intensity Headlamps|
|Front & Rear Head Airbags||Traction Control|
|Power Steering||Tire Pressure Monitoring|
|4-Wheel ABS||Auto Delay Off Headlamps|
|Engine Immobilizer||Front Headrests|
|Front Fog/Driving Lights||Remote Anti-Theft System|
PLUS many in-dash related extras like Compass, Trip Computer, Tachometer, Low Fuel Warning, Clock, Temp Display, and more.
|Comfort / Convenience|
|Air Conditioning||Overhead Console w/ Storage|
|Front Seatback Storage||Leather Steering Wheel|
|Leather Gear Knob||Keyless Ignition|
|Power Steering||Front Reading Lights|
|Dual Illuminating Vanity||Rear Cupholders|
|Electrochromatic Inside Rear Mirror||Retained Accessory Power|
|Tilt/Telescoping Steering Wheel||Universal Remote|
|Front Door Pockets||Suede Door Trim|
|Trunk Light||Power/Heated Mirrors|
|Remote Keyless Door Locks||One-Touch Power Mirrors|
|Kicker 13 Speaker AM/FM Stereo||Satellite Radio|
That is a lot of technology from a car whose origins come from one that ran on regular leaded gas!
2008 Challenger Engine
So, design and options are important to mention, but now we’re getting to what this Challenger is really about. A Hemi V8. No, not the 7.0L, 426ci behemoth from the ’70s. The new 6.1L, V8 produced the same 425hp as the 7.0L, but was lighter, cleaner-burning, and more reliable. It also helped the ’08 Challenger to become the fastest Challenger to date. Yes, the better tires, transmission, torque curve, and gearing also helped, but who’s counting?
|Drivetrain layout||Front Engine, RWD|
|Engine Type||iron block/aluminum heads|
|Valvetrain||Overhead Valves, 2 valves/cylinder|
|Displacement||369.8ci / 6059cc|
|Horsepower (SAE)||425 hp @ 6200 RPM|
|Torque (SAE)||420 lb-ft @ 4800 RPM|
How good is the performance? Keep in mind that this is a 4000-pound coupe with all the amenities of the day. Zero to 60 comes in less than 5 seconds, to 100 in a tic over 11 seconds, and through the quarter-mile faster than the fastest Challenger you could buy from the first generation.
Not only that, but it would’ve destroyed the new Mustang GT in a race with almost no effort. You’d have to spend another $10,000 to purchase the GT500 to match the Challenger’s figures. Chevrolet was also still a year away from making the Camaro as well. Dodge was on the fringe of fully competing with Ford and Chevrolet and it all started with this car.
2008 Challenger SRT8 Performance
*0-60: 4.9 seconds
*0-100: 11.3 seconds
*0-¼ mile: 13.1 @ 108 mph
**Top Speed: 168 mph
*Lateral Accel: 0.87 g (avg)
MPG: 13/18 mpg (mfr.)
*Motor Trend, **Car & Driver
The other side to the coin has to be mentioned. The ’08 Challenger did have some faults for all of its chocolaty goodness. To start with, the car is heavy – like, really heavy. Cadillac-heavy. Four thousand pounds for a performance car has become more of a norm nowadays, but in 2008 – when a C6 Corvette weighed a measly 3200 pounds – it was a porker.
Year one for the newcomer also had it utilizing a 5-speed automatic transmission. No manual transmission was a large no-no in the gearhead community and a major win for Mustang fans. And, between the thirsty engine, automatic transmission, and ominous heft, the car’s gas mileage ratings looked like that of a Dodge Ram (13/18) instead of a sports coupe. It was also offered with no other engine options, very few color choices, and all for the price of a really good Mercedes.
2008 Challenger Production Figures
Dodge still had a tough sale on their hands and their numbers showed. Ford’s Mustang was flourishing, and a cornucopia of competition was available in the automotive shopping list, so sales were slow starting out. Eventually, the car would become a major seller, but it would require more variety, more power, and more options. The Challenger phenomenon was just starting.
|2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8
Check out the next year’s model here!