• Aug 25, 2010
Like a Viper With Rear Seats and a Proper Trunk

Hurst Hemi Challenger - Click above for high-res image gallery

We've seen how Hurst Hemi Challengers are put together, but the last time we tried to drive one we couldn't get above 25 mph because of the prototype wheels. To correct that hideous oversight, Hurst slapped a couple of production wheels on a black and a white version of their Challenger, and we took both out for their yearly physicals. Just like the song went, it was ebony and ivory living in perfect harmony. Like King Kong and the Abominable Snowman. Follow the jump for the story.



Photos copyright ©2010 Drew Phillips / AOL

When we last drove the car – at parking lot speeds – we admitted we had no idea how the thing would handle serious driving, but the suspension changes should coax some additional measure of ability. The Challenger SRT8 we reviewed was straight-line fun, but exhibited a tiny bit of fail when turning the wheel any number of degrees off center.

Frankly, as far as we're concerned, that's all right. The Challenger isn't a sports car, it's a a muscle car, and muscle cars have never been about exceptional handling. Muscle cars are meant to be imposing, definitely brash and undeniably loud. Muscle cars are supposed to make an impression, and beyond that, leave an impression. A decked-out Challenger certainly does all of that.



The Hurst treatment isn't about turning a Challenger into a full-bore sports car. It's about heightening the elements that make the car a fantastic template for an all out hot rod. The Challenger's girth alone is going to register with you when you see it. Make it lower, louder, meaner, firmer and gold-stripy-er, and the resulting car makes you feel guilty if you drive it without wearing a tank top, leather jacket and torn Levi's. Smoking a Camel. Listening to Jan & Dean.

That's because the Hurst Challenger's primary aim is to be true to the founder's philosophy, which was to create gentleman hotrods – cars that could compete with the best for sheer power, but if you weren't some lowlife punk simply trying to get under the next poodle skirt, you found the car refined enough to please your loftier driving requirements.

If that's the hot rod you want, both the black and white Series 5 Challengers are all the hot rod you'll need.



In getting everything ready for the Bob's Big Boy lights, there have been a few changes made to the production car versus the show car we drove last year. The rear spoiler on the pre-production car stuck up like a duck tail; the retail version simply extends back flat from the decklid and also loses the Hurst badge. The curvature from the hub to the spokes on the production wheels is less dramatic. And with the help of BFG, Hurst was able to get the staggered wheel setup they wanted for the 20-inchers shod in BFG KDW rubber. Speaking of those wheels, they are massive – you don't realize how big they are until you see them lying upside down on the shop floor looking like industrial vats.

And it is always makes us smile to see big wheels, because that is usually indicative of big power. And we like big power.



First up was the white car. Like the black one, it has 572 horsepower and 528 lb-ft torque, but in this case it's channeled through an automatic. The word "automatic" in this case has a precise technical meaning, being the kind of transmission. Yet "automatic," we quickly learned, also describes how easy it is to access the thrills. To go crazy in an auto Hurst, this is what you do: get in, start the car, put it in gear and hit the throttle. It is Viper-esque in the nearly uncontrollable immediacy of its burnouts, in the there's-nothing-to-do-ness of the action. If you live in a cul-de-sac, you wouldn't even need to drive the car anywhere. Just pull it out of the driveway, crank the wheel, mash the pedal and spend a minute doing 28 donuts. You could even do them with your morning coffee. It's that simple. Then put the car away and wash the smell of smoke off. Done.

The automatic Hurst Challenger is like a pit bull: you've got to watch out for it because it's kind of crazy and even though you're the master, you're always wondering "Are you going to go bonkers today?" If you want a car for the daily commute that can kick concrete and asphalt in the grilles of all those Camrys and 5-Series' you'll be stuck in traffic with, this is it.



The manual car is what we came to spend time in, though. Almost the first thing we noticed was that the Hurst shifter makes a lot more sense in the manual. When it's something to be used, as opposed to a decorative piece, it makes perfect sense. And it doesn't even feel like you're holding a manual transmission – it feels like you've got brass knuckles. And that ass-kicking feeling helps keep you in the hot rod mood.

If that won't do it, there's the Magnaflow cat-back exhaust, which emits lusty, Hemi-powered detonations from its four pipes.

Once we were able to dig into the car, however, what we really dug was the Vortech supercharger. Because it's centrifugal, it kicks in almost like a turbo and progressively adds more boost. The faster you go, the faster you go. And if there's anything better than huge acceleration, it's accelerating acceleration.



You'll get to know the traction control light very well in first gear if you leave the driving aids on. Turn them off and use at least a little bit of your brain, and you can get some Holy Moly! jackrabbit starts out of the car. You've got to shift to second almost as soon as you push the pedal in first gear, but once the car has some rev range to play with you can get a ridiculous amount of power down. If the city ever catches you, they might send you a bill for destroying the streets.

We actually preferred running starts because they gave us the chance to downshift and hear the noise, and we could be a little less cautious with the throttle without fear of the rear traction disappearing. The tires will break loose in third gear if you want them to. Not that we tried. Much.



As for that suspension, the car rides beautifully on its Eibach kit. The new arrangement keeps the car's mass and weight in check, keeping it even through turns and staying steady during side-to-side inputs, and at no time did those ginormous wheels and tires intrude into the driving experience; they didn't crash over bumps or noisily fall into potholes.

But it's not a sports car – it's a Challenger, and even though it's highly tuned, that one word, "Challenger," should tell you everything you need to know about what it does and how it does it.



The car really is a toned down Viper with rear seats and a proper trunk, and is no less wonderful for it. As colleague Mike Harley said, "It does exactly what it looks like it does." It imposes, it frightens, it impresses, it rumbles, it growls. It's a gentleman's hot rod, and whenever you want to go rodding, you'll have plenty of hot to put plenty of other rods in your rearview mirror.

Whether you decide to be a gentleman about it is entirely up to you.



Photos copyright ©2010 Drew Phillips / AOL


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 24 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      $36,500 PLUS the cost of the car.

      Crack pipe.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's interesting in the article it says that the challenger is a muscle car and not a sports car, and it's ok if it doesn't handle well.

      Times are a changing, something the autoblog crew should know since just a few hours ago you guys posted videos of MT testing the m3 vs 5.0 mustang.
      Sports car vs muscle car.

      Wake up guys, you can and should expect handling and straight line performance from a modern day muscle car.

      Be honest with us, the challenger is an under powered, over priced, poor handling piece of eye candy, that is only good at losing at in every category to cheaper cars.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Get back in your Yugo and go away...
        • 4 Years Ago
        One thing i hate about autoblog is when the fanboys come out to defend the car of their choice.
        You guys are all in a time warp.
        This is not 1985.
        It's ok to expect more from a 45,000 dollar car, like handling. And BTW, the straight line acceleration of the srt8 isn't that good either.
        Making it mediocre at everything.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The phrase "Doesn't handle well" is relative.

        You simply cannot expect a rwd, V8 powered, 4k + lb car, capable of comfortably seating 5 people to handle like an awd Porsche. You also must consider that the vast majority of Challenger buyers do not plan on racing them for their intended purpose, much less around something that resembles curvy European back-roads with hair pin turns.

        If that is not your cup of tea, fine, there are plenty of other alternatives. Consumers having choices is a vital part of living in a free society.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Interesting since Challengers sales are up 15% this year compared to 2009, and the fact that the 2011 Challenger will have an upgraded interior and upgraded engines: New Phoenix V6 with 50 more horses and improved fuel economy, and the new 6.4L Hemi for the SRT8 with 480 HP.

        http://www.allpar.com/cars/dodge/challenger/challenger-2011.html
        • 4 Years Ago
        @therealarod - Also keep in mind Dodge had zero cash on the hood last year on the Challenger, not to mention they were being sold (due to demand) at MSRP. I'm sure the economic climate sidelined a few early adopters to wait for the (up to) $4,000 sitting on the hood on the Challenger...not to mention they are being sold at invoice minus the 4 big ones.
      • 4 Years Ago
      When I think "muscle car" this is exactly what comes to mind. Sorry Mustang, I know you're a solid M3-fighting beast and all, but the Challenger haunts my dreams.

      *sigh* maybe one day...
      • 4 Years Ago
      I really like the black/gold Hurst model. Yes, it would be nice if about 400 lbs could be shaved off the car and handling therefore brought to match the other performance vectors. But this is a gorgeous car, and IMO the best looking Hurst model of the 3.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I never liked the Challenger...I perfer the Charger. But, for the interior space it offers, I'd buy one if I ever found myself needing a 2 door muscle car.

      The Challenger must have the largest backseat + headroom for a 2 door, second only to the CL550.
      • 4 Years Ago
      love the staggered wheels. Thanksfully they kept the look simply (The Challenger is a great looking car stock) inline with the gentlemans hotrod philosophy.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Do they really need to paint those ugly racing strips down the middle? Personally, i would prefer either all black or a flat black for that stealth look...what is it with muscle cars and them racing stripes...

      Now that we have the Mustang, Charger, Camaro, and Challenger, can someone "Chrysler???" please pretty please bring back the Plymouth Superbird???
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Shin Ra - Here is your modern Superbird: http://hppcars.com/Gallery/Plymouth_Superbird/index.htm

        Though there are also concept drawings of a 2012 Superbird out there (looks a little like a GT40 and Challenger SuperBird mated).

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PonIGx1xjQ
        • 4 Years Ago
        Nice, i think ive seen that HPP version, probably here...and that concept sketch looks pretty sweet...almost looks like the top comes off on that last pic...
        • 4 Years Ago
        there you go again elmo the charger is a muscle car esp with a 426 hemi a bit heavy and large,but a muscle car none the less bozo. elmo is a good name for you
      bpatte4047
      • 4 Years Ago
      I graduated from high school in 1958, am a 70 year old great-grandmother, and this car makes my heart skip a beat! I want one of these cars so bad I can taste it, and smell the tires burning already!! Please tell me this isn't a guy's only car!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Hurst Comeptition/Plus Challenger is still the best looking Challenger on the market. It's probably the best looking Hurst car since the Oldsmobiles of the muscle car era too.
      • 4 Years Ago
      $36k for a supercharger, ECU tune, Eibach springs, rear spoiler, wheels, and paint stripes???

      Whatever.

      Wait for a 2011 SRT8 w/the new aluminum block w/480HP. You can put on those aftermarket doodads for probably no more than $20k ($4k in wheels, $10k supercharger, 1k in suspension updates, $2k in paint stripes/spoiler).

      I think for $75k for a Hurst Challenger, you can get one mean mofo 2010 600hp Viper that can do mid 11s.
        • 4 Years Ago
        What are you sources on the hemi going to aluminum block? This is the day I've been waiting for.
      • 4 Years Ago
      A great brute.
      • 4 Years Ago
      camilan

      aneka camilan

      kacang mete

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