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The Dodge Shakedown Challenger looks brilliant
Retro-modern concept muscle car is a 485bhp cocktail of new and old school badassness
Classic cars with modern mechanicals are ten-a-penny nowadays. But that hasn’t stopped Dodge um, muscling in on the act for this year’s SEMA show.
Meet the rather excellent Dodge Shakedown Challenger concept. It’s a 1971 Dodge Challenger tarted up with mod cons and new-age niceties, plus a pleasingly overpowered and reliable powertrain.
Now, we all know car companies don’t make cars like they used to. Because they used to be rubbish. That’s why the folks at Dodge sourced a 1971 chassis and then went to town on it, in order to retain the charm and undiluted badass-ness of one of the most iconic American muscle cars of all time, while making sure it doesn’t blow a head gasket in traffic.
Instead of being the classic unibody construction, the Shakedown is a body-on-frame job with a new, completely bespoke fabricated chassis. It comes complete with custom front and rear independent suspension that’s also been lowered to make it suitable for track use. Or drifting, we’re told.
Under that stunning and fully functioning shaker hood is a 392, 6.4-litre HEMI V8, giving this old boy the heart of a teenager. A fighty teenager with anger issues, as it likes to shout through custom Mopar exhausts with black powder-coated exhaust tips.
All 485bhp is sent to the tarmac via a Dodge Viper’s six-speed manual transmission and Hellcat wheels (19in front, 20in rear) wrapped in super sticky Viper ACR rubber.
And doesn’t it look menacing? Old school menacing. With those sweet lines sprayed in sinister ‘Bitchin’ Black’ paint, contrasted with asymmetrical black and red pinstripes, this isn’t a car that would spend the night behind a keyboard and computer screen trying to scare the life out of you – it’d wait for you in a dark alley and take great pleasure in causing you pain.
There are some exquisite details, too. The original Challenger body has been shaved, with the deletion of the door handles (you now use the electronic key fob to open the door), drip rails and fuel cap (which has been moved to the boot) to create a flush and seamless swollen shape.
You may have also noticed some Seventies details have collided head-on with the 2017 Challenger parts catalogue. The satin black front and rear lights have been stripped from a current Challenger and made to fit the ’71 Challenger’s face. They’re also complemented by the modern Challenger grille, spoiler, fog lamp bezels and mirror caps. The Shakedown also has two red Mopar 392 HEMI Engine logo tattoos on the front fenders so everyone knows you mean business.
Inside, it’s as serious and manly as a Hell’s Angels pub quiz. The front seats have been ripped out of the soon-to-be-axed Dodge Viper, this time re-trimmed in black ‘Katzkin’ leather (cat skin?! Sounds like something Dartz would spec) and contrasted with black Alcantara inserts and red stitching. This theme also goes with the steering wheel, again pinched from a Viper. There’s also an SRT Hellcat gear knob, new instrument panel gauges in black, and lots of carbonfibre.
Behind the front seats is a roll bar just in case you capsize on a track day. And the rear seats have been binned in favour of netting and a shelf so you can store your racing boots, helmet and a couple of packets of jerky with ease.
But given that all these parts are currently for sale, there’s nothing to stop you from getting an old Challenger chassis and doing it yourself. Or paying Dodge to do it, for that matter. So who’d like to see this put into production? We sure as hell would.