• Dec 29th 2008 at 11:57AM
  • 25
Hurst HEMI Challenger – Click above for high-res image gallery

Cars-n-Coffee is a weekly gathering of automobilia in Irvine, California at Ford's former Premier Auto Group parking lot. Every Saturday morning from 6AM, Ferraris, Jaguars, Lamborghinis, Porsches, '50s hot rods, Mercedes, Camaros, you name it, rumble their way into the lot. On one recent overcast morning, Autoblog headed down to the dawn soiree, having been offered a drive in the Hurst HEMI Challenger. Although 6AM is closer to our bedtime than it is to reveille, we stayed up and paid a visit to the Challenger, hoping to find out if it had any hope of being a champion. Follow the jump for the story.

Photos copyright ©2008 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

The first thing we have to admit is that this just barely qualifies as a "First Drive". This car is the SEMA car we showed you in November, and it's still wearing prototype wheels, and those wheels don't like to go more than 25 mph. So yes, our first drive was conducted at something like parking lot speeds. That, and the fact that Orange County roads are exceptionally smooth, means our report is a little low on dynamic details. We can reveal that the car sounds great even at 25 mph, and we imagine we'd have fun going a lot faster... and that's got to count for something, right?

As for going fast around turns, that remains unknown. When it was in the Autoblog Garage, the unadulterated Challenger SRT8 was given three cheers for straight line ability and a limp handshake for twisties prowess. Unless we're talking about a Bentley GT, we wouldn't expect a 4,000-pound coupe to throw the smackdown to esses, but Hurst's installation of an Eibach suspension and Bilstein shocks should take this one at least a few rungs up charts.

If you plunk down for this car, though, we assure you that you'll have parking lots handled. Don't even worry about them – this car has your back. And depending on the parking lot you're in, there's a good chance you'll own the lot in more ways than one.

That's because the Challenger is like a great white wonder – and we don't mean a Dylan album. It's huge. Unless you're parked at a Flying J, there's no way you could lose this car. And this particular example, a Series 5 wearing the white flake paint job studded with gold pearl mica and gold inlays on the 5-spokers, is especially attention-getting. If you ever needed to tell someone how to find it in a crowded lot, your best instructions would be "Look for the Inca pyramid with gold pinstripes."

It is a very good thing then that it's beautiful. Previous to this, if anyone had offered us a white car with aluminum rims with gold insets, we'd have responded with "Hmm... yeah..." like Peter Gibbons' boss in Office Space. But even the wheels work, and the entire cosmetic package boosts the basic Challenger presence from impressive to "Gringo Badass."

There are some changes in store for the car, however. Those prototype wheels that like the slow lane will be milled slightly differently on the production car. The 5-axis program didn't like the sharp curve where the spokes meet the hub, so that arc will be shallower. The rear spoiler will also be faster, more curved, and the increased curve means it will lose the inset Hurst logo.

Finally, the car pictured wears staggered B.F. Goodrich G-Force tires, 245/40 ZR20 in front, 295/40 ZR 20 in the rear. Initially, however, Hurst will only offer the factory-spec Goodyears. The car's electronic stability control can handle a certain amount of stagger, but Hurst wants more time to calibrate the system appropriately. Hurst says it hopes to offer the staggered tires "in the very near future," especially since BFG has offered technical assistance to tune the car.

Otherwise, what you see is what you get. This particular Challenger is the new Series 5. At SEMA, there were only four different series' offered, none of them with the gold flake paint job, but a number of ready-to-buy customers at the show said "I want that car... no, that one right there." Voila, the Series 5 was born.

Another customer-created concept: Hurst will place a camera in the glovebox of every car being built, and the wrenches working on it will take pictures of the car during the build. Should the owner wish, the Hurst techs will even autograph the car. It's better than a plaque on the engine – in this case, every car comes with its own story, in pictures.

We have been told that the production wheels are due in January. If all goes well, we'll arrange a more thrilling First Drive, one that will use the Hurst HEMI Challenger's 572 hp and 528 lb-ft. to see how much we can make its white and gold fade together into a triple-digit blur. Then, if there is any real comparison with this great white wonder and the Dylan album, we hope it will be "This Wheel's on Fire." In the metaphorical sense, at least. Until then, enjoy the high-res gallery of photos below.

Photos copyright ©2008 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

Autoblog accepts vehicle loans from auto manufacturers with a tank of gas and sometimes insurance for the purpose of evaluation and editorial content. Like most of the auto news industry, we also sometimes accept travel, lodging and event access for vehicle drive and news coverage opportunities. Our opinions and criticism remain our own – we do not accept sponsored editorial.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Those pictures more than make up for the rather low speed. :)

      That looks great on that car, and those wheels are awesome.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The shifter would be an acquired taste. I can see it being a hassle when trying to use the far side controls of the radio and A/C consoles.
        • 6 Years Ago
        If the car is in park yes, but while in drive it looks like there will be plenty of clearance.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I don't quite get it...

      Why would you buy something like this, when you could buy aftermarket Brakes, Suspension Parts, Exhausts, Intakes, Chips, ETC. yourself, have the joy of putting them on yourself, paint it to your own personal favorite color scheme, and not have it branded by some tuning company, therefore making it less impressive, because you didn't do the damn tuning yourself. And at what I presume is a fraction of the cost.

      I guess getting a Limited Edition car increases resale value, but with a car like this, its one of those thing that you run until it won't run any longer, unlike the wife's minivan, isn't it?

        • 6 Years Ago
        Sure you can spend 1/3 of the price of a Bugatti Veyron and prob get better performance car but it isn't about that.

        Everybody and their mother can spend 50gs on aftermarket goodies to make a car go fast but only a limited few will have a limited factory edition car.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Beautiful car !!! The Challenger is the best looking new car around.Fast/Reliable and just beautiful...I love my 09 SRT Challenger.My 05 300C had 100,000 trouble free miles,a far cry from my 04 Acura that was in the shop for tranny work and leaking coolant from the engine block.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'd say that this is the most appealing Challenger I've seen yet. I'm excited for the tuner rush of Challengers..
      All those who bitch about the abundance of Mustang variant posts are definitely not stoked about having two more muscle cars to constantly see.. But screw you guys! American muscle is where its at
      • 6 Years Ago
      It needs the stripes to continue all the way down the rear bumper.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Not feeling the wheels, paint job looks like the Hertz Mustang (just white en lieu of black).
      • 6 Years Ago
      Those wheels hurt my eyes.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I love it save for the dildo shifter. If it was anywhere near the price of an SRT8 (I don't need a blown one) I'd own one Instead of my silver SRT8.
      • 6 Years Ago

      That is by far the best looking iteration of this vehicle to date. I would rather have this than the SRT version. Those wheels look great on this car...prob not so much on anything else.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Those complaining about the gold striping on white paint job clearly understand none of Hurst's legacy and why the paint job couldn't look any other way. Google a 1969 Hurst/Olds 442 and you'll understand.
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