First Drive: Classic Design Concepts Group 2 Widebody Challenger

CDC Group 2 Widebody Challenger – Click above for high-res image gallery

The Challenger SRT8 marked the official return last year of the musclecar to the Dodge lineup, and its retro styling, 425-horsepower V8 and tire-shredding capabilities had Mopar enthusiasts giddy with excitement. What, you say, could be much better? Enter Classic Design Concepts. The Novi, Michigan-based company has been adding its visual touch to cars since 1990, and recently tried its hand at Dodge's new musclecar. The result? The Group 2 Widebody Challenger that made its debut at SEMA in 2008. We were instantly smitten with the car's aggressive appearance on the show floor, and were determined to get a closer look if we ever had the chance. Jumping forward a couple of months, we recently learned that the car would be out in Southern California for a Mopar gathering. A phone call to CDC later and we were fortunate enough to land an afternoon behind the wheel of this 575-horsepower bona fide modern musclecar.

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Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc

First off, let's get one thing straight: Classic Design Concepts isn't your typical body kit manufacturer. The fit and finish on all of its products is at or above OE quality, which is why companies like Ford, Saleen and Roush have relied on CDC to supply parts for their cars. Remember that cool functional hood scoop on the Mach 1 Mustang built in 2003? It was designed and built by Classic Design Concepts. All products also come with their own three-year warranty on manufacturer defects.

You might wonder – as did we – why they don't build and sell a complete car of their own. We asked, and were told that CDC prefers to simply provide components and let customers create cars for themselves. Even so, the Group 2 Challenger has the look of a production car and we could easily picture it on a showroom floor.

Just like the stock Challenger, the Group 2 Widebody gets inspiration from Mopar models past. The overall theme of the car comes from a variety of 1970's Chrysler road racers, including five Hemi Cuda race cars that were campaigned by Chrysler of France from 1970 to 1973, and more famously, by the Challenger T/A driven by Sam Posey in the 1970 Trans-Am season. Each competed in a Group 2 classification – the Cudas in FIA and the Challenger T/A in SCCA, hence the name. Other visual cues, like the rear quarter panel extensions, have a direct link to the 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda.

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So, just what is included in the Group 2 package? For starters, new composite front fenders, left and right spoiler canards (side wings) and rear "billboard" panel and fenderwell extensions. In total, the new body panels add six inches to the width of the Challenger. Not only does it look awesome, but it's functional too. The car can now accommodate 11.5-inch wide wheels at the rear and 10-inch wide wheels up front, enabling better grip for acceleration and cornering. Customers can purchase the package with USW 20-inch three-piece wheels and Pirelli PZero Rosso tires or find their own combination. Other options from Classic Design Concepts include a stainless steel wire mesh grille, sequential taillights and a fully functional shaker hood system, a CDC specialty.

This particular Challenger also has a few additional components not sold directly by Classic Design Concepts. Under the hood is a Vortech supercharger system that works in conjunction with the shaker hood system to boost the Hemi V8 to 575 horsepower, and out back, a Corsa exhaust system ensures a true muscle car sound emits from the tailpipes. Lastly, a KW coilover suspension system helps reduce body roll and improve handling, and a Baer drilled-and-slotted big brake upgrade provides additional stopping power.

While it's hard for a photograph to convey, the width of the CDC Group 2 Challenger is nothing short of impressive in person. The new fenders give the Challenger bold and beautiful curves at nearly every angle, and the difference is especially noticeable when juxtaposed with a stock Dodge Challenger. Although it barely seems possible, the Group 2 actually manages to make the standard production car look wimpy. In fact, we began to notice a growing trend as we spent more time with the car; everything that the stock Dodge Challenger embodies, the CDC Group 2 does so even more. If the Challenger reminds you of the muscle car era, the Group 2 makes you feel like you're actually there. Think driving around in Challenger SRT8 attracts attention? Try it in this bad boy. Parked at a gas station, we had people appear out of nowhere to come inspect the car. The Group 2 seems to be universally loved by car enthusiasts. Everyone from a Ford Mustang GT owner to a 20-something in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo pulled over to have a look at the car.

And then there is the experience of actually driving the CDC Group 2 Challenger. We can't think of another modern vehicle that makes you feel this much like you're behind the wheel of a true take-no-prisoners muscle car. Mash the throttle and the Group 2 explodes off the line with tires howling and the tail wagging as the car fights for traction in spectacular muscle car fashion. It doesn't feel supercar fast – most likely because of its size – but just a few seconds on the gas and you'll be well past the legal speed limit. The only thing we'd change is the automatic transmission, and fortunately, Chrysler is now offering a six-speed manual for the Challenger. Check that option in the box, and we'd take this car as-is, no changes needed.

So what's the downside? Well, the Group 2 package is a wee bit expensive. All of the body components are $11,995 installed, or $5,895 not including wheels and tires. The shaker system, including the composite flat hood, adds another $2,495. So just to get the full look of this car, you're looking at nearly $14,500. To build this exact car, you'd also have to spend $6,400 (Vortech supercharger), $3,095 (KW adjustable coilovers), $3,525 (Baer Extreme Plus brakes) and $1,870 (Corsa exhaust system). Add that to the $42,745 price of a base Dodge Challenger SRT8 plus $695 for the manual transmission, and you end up with a $72,820 car.

The Classic Design Concepts Group 2 Widebody Challenger is kind of like the Shelby GT500KR of Mopars: based on a $20,000 car and probably not the best bang for your buck, but it's the ultimate version of a really cool car. So if the Dodge Challenger is your dream car, then the CDC Group 2 Widebody Challenger is the biggest, baddest, and, without a doubt, widest one you can get.

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Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc

Base vehicle specs:
2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8
5-Speed Automatic Transmission
Brilliant Black

CDC GROUP 2 Challenger Wide Body Kit – PN. 0832-7005-01
  • Package components Include:
  • Right and Left Composite Front Fenders
  • Right and Left Composite "Billboard" Rear Quarter Panel Extensions
  • Front and Rear Inner Wheel Well Extensions
  • Aerodynamic Front Spoiler "Canards"
  • Unique CDC GROUP 2 Exterior Badging and Numbered Console Plaque
Options on GROUP 2:
  • Challenger R/T - SRT8 Functional Shaker System
  • Challenger RTM Composite Flat Hood
GROUP 2 Specific Wheel and Tire Package:
  • Rims - USW Forged "Crossover" w/Three Piece Construction and unique spacing. Front – 20"X 10", Rear – 20" X 11.5"
  • Tires – Pirelli PZero Rosso Front - P275/40ZR 20, Rear – P315/35ZR 20
Other Modifications:
  • Vortech Supercharger
  • KW Coilover Suspension
  • Corsa Cat-Back Exhaust
  • Baer Extreme Plus Brake System

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