Dreaming of a New Dodge at the New York International Auto Show

By Mike Mello

At the NYIAS, where Broadway is just uptown, Chrysler Vice Chairman Jim Press lead the media through a series of skits that served as the launching point for the introduction of the 2009 Dodge Challenger.

Available in three models, the Challenger SRT8, SE, and R/T were unveiled, in that order, after live actors situated behind a black screen described their own versions of a dream car. Whether it was the nostalgic muscle car guy, the young couple who wanted style, value, and contemporary communication technology, or the couple who realized they were both dreaming of their perfect blend of personalized performance, the introduction of the 2009 Dodge Challenger in New York worked off the idea of dreams becoming reality. As Press noted in his introductory speech: “If you can dream it, we can build it.”

If it’s maximum power that a customer craves, the 6.1L HEMI V-8 in the Challenger SRT8 puts out 425 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque, meeting the pavement through a limited-slip rear. In the first skit of the press conference, the actor playing the gear-head gets his wish when the silver SRT8 is unveiled, boasting 20-inch fully forged aluminum wheels, a black hood stripe, twin hood scoops, low-profile rear spoiler and an exclusive, “race-inspired” interior. A choice of two transmissions is available: either a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual, which includes the right rear axle equipment to make sure you don’t just spin your wheels when nailing the gas pedal and throwing the pistol-grip shifter.

In a wise move, the second skit of the event took the cover off a Challenger SE, which looked super-sharp in blue. The SE, shown with optional 18-inch aluminum wheels, more than held its own being introduced between the wild, silver SRT8 and incredibly hot, orange R/T. The actors in this skit get what they’ve been dreaming of with the SE’s 3.5L, 250 horsepower V-6, bolted to a four-speed automatic transmission. A single exhaust pipe exits the rear of the vehicle, but it’s the entertainment and communication features available on the SE, as well as the other models, that could make this model very attractive to many buyers.

The SE’s standard stereo has MP3 capability, but the optional list of entertainment equipment includes a six-disc CD changer, six speakers, navigation system with 5.8-inch display, hands-free communication system, and SIRIUS Satellite Radio. Basically, you can option out the SE with a great deal of convenience items that would make for a personalized, rather plush ride without opting for the HEMI that you may not need.

The third skit of the conference featured a couple in bed, dreaming of their ultimate car with all the right options. As the skit starts to heat up, Jim Press interrupts and the final sheet is pulled from the orange Challenger R/T. With a standard 370-horsepower, 5.7L HEMI V-8, the R/T offers a five-speed automatic with Auto Stick or a six-speed manual transmission.

The R/T just might be the Challenger package that offers the most equipment choices, since later in 2009, a Challenger Classic R/T will become available. The Challenger Classic will come in a unique B5 blue color with black side stripes, much like the original Challenger. If that’s not enough, special script-style Challenger badging will also be included, topping off the vintage vibe.

In the fall of 2008, there’s going to be three very different Dodge Challenger packages available. Like the actors at the New York show, you can start dreaming now, especially because the Challenger will be available in nine different colors. What might help get your dreams in motion is a trip to Dodge.com, so you can start to decide if the 20-inch “heritage” five-spoke aluminum wheel is something you must have, or if the dual exhaust with rectangular tips is what tops your list.

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Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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  1. OMG, this car is all that and more. I’m crushing on it.

  2. A bright spot for chrysler, they should do well with it if gas doesn’t go too high

  3. What will the Chinese do with it when Chrysler is sold to them?

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