The Challenger SRT8, with its 392 Hemi engine,
deserved testing by a real driver, so we threw
Indy 500 polesitter Alex Tagliani the keys.
Words David Malsher Images Richard S. James
In the absence of a Cougar or
Chevelle, these days the modern
Challenger finds itself aiming for the
same clientele as its fellow retro icons
yet, as before, remains proudly aloof of
them by continuing to o;er di;erent
strengths. A Challenger has more
interior space in terms of leg and head
room for rear-seat passengers, waist and
shoulder room for all occupants, and a
trunk capacity that wouldn’t disgrace a
Yet this practicality is clothed in a
wonderfully evocative shape that truly
pays homage to its 40-year-old namesake.
Yes, the 20-inch wheels on the SRT8
model are slightly cartoon-esque, but the
waist-line, the high but short rear
overhang and the front grille and quad
headlights are pure Challenger.
“Man! It just looks like such a beast,”
enthuses our guest tester, IZOD IndyCar
Series star Alex Tagliani as he walks
toward our car at Texas Motor Speedway.
Then, as he takes in the dual white stripes from nose to tail, this
year’s Indy 500 polesitter comments, “You drove this from LA
to here and didn’t get stopped? Are you just lucky or were you
not going quick enough?”
Fair point. This car has “Catch me if you can, O;cer,”
written all over it, so you have to play it smart. Much though I
wanted to sample as often as possible all 470 of the horses that
kick from the 392cu.in/6.4-liter Hemi engine, the car is too
distinctive and easily spotted from road – or air. There was no
attempt to recreate Vanishing Point on this trip.
As an enthusiastic but average-talent kinda driver, I can tell
you the Challenger plays the relaxed GT role in a manner that