Cars

Shaker hood is Challenger throwback

The 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker
The 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker

For muscle car fans, the Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker is like taking a trip through the Wayback Machine. The Wayback Machine was used by on the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show that ran from 1959 to 1964.

If you’re not old enough to remember Rocky and Bullwinkle you’re probably not old enough to remember the original 1970 Dodge Challenger’s shaker hood, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get a kick out of seeing the big, matte black air cleaner that pokes through the Challenger’s hood vibrate and wiggle as the engine idles.

So what’s a shaker hood? A special air cleaner protrudes through a hole in the hood so it can gulp fresh, cool air for more horsepower. The air cleaner shakes visibly because it is attached directly to the engine.

The test car’s bright orange paint job and huge, matte black racing stripes are also a throwback to the halcyon days of muscle cars. Subtle it was not.

The base price of a well-equipped car with the shaker package is $37,495.

Muscle cars are as American as the Fourth of July, and the Challenger combines a taste of yesterday’s style with today’s technology. While the original Challenger was considerably smaller than the current car, Dodge designers have been able to evoke the look of the original car while using the chassis of the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger. The wheelbase is a rather long 116 inches, but that gives the back seat 37.4 inches of headroom and 32.6 inches of legroom. Getting into the back isn’t all that easy, but there is decent room for adults.

The 5.7-liter Hemi is a delightful engine. The 375 horsepower yanks the car to 60 miles per hour in about 5.5 seconds yet it is docile and tame due to abundant low-speed torque. Racers will love the six-speed manual transmission for fast driving but the way it forces a first-to-fourth shift at low speeds gets annoying. I would choose the automatic for daily driving.

The firm Track Pak suspension and the 20-inch wheels grab the pavement in turns yet they do so without creating a harsh, uncomfortable ride.

Big disc brakes have strong stopping power.

The Challenger’s cabin feels large because it is. This coupe feels like a sedan when you’re seated behind the wheel, and the heavily bolstered sports seats deliver support in all of the right places. The premium Nappa leather feels upscale.

The instrument cluster is similar to that of the Chrysler 300. The optional navigation unit has a large LCD display that is easy to read and use. The test car also had a built-in hard disk and Bluetooth connectivity.

Price

The base price of the test car was $37,495. The optional Shaker package ($7,000) included the shaker hood with functional air intake, 20-inch wheels, performance tires, track-tuned suspension, leather sports seats, Boston Acoustics speakers, heated outside mirrors, individually numbered dash plaque and rear parking sensors. Additional options included a 368-watt audio amplifier, power sunroof, high-intensity headlights, navigation, satellite radio and Uconnect Bluetooth system with 40-gig hard drive. The sticker price was $42,075.

Warranty

Three years or 36,000 miles with a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Tom Strongman’s e-mail is tstrongman@gmail.com

2014 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker

Engine: 5.7-liter, 375-horsepower V-8

Transmission: Six-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive

Performance: 0 to 60 miles per hour in about 5.5 seconds

Wheelbase: 116 inches

Curb weight: 4,082 pounds

Base price: $37,495

As driven: $42,075

MPG rating: 15 in the city, 24 on the highway

At A Glance

Point: The Challenger’s bright orange paint, black stripes and shaker hood might be the automotive equivalent of bell-bottom pants and flowered shirts but they have been executed with today’s technology.

Counterpoint: The Challenger feels big because it is. I would choose the automatic for daily driving because the six-speed is unnecessary unless you are driving fast.

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