Dodge Challenger Test Mule on the Streets of Michigan
We've shown you plenty of coverage of the Dodge Challenger concept that debuted at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show. It's been making the rounds at car cruises across the country, so there's no shortage of footage of the concept car on the road.
But with production of the 2008 Dodge Challenger less than a year away, full-blown prototypes have been appearing on the streets outside Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Our spy shooters managed to snag these latest spy photos along with some video of one such prototype despite attempts by the test driver to elude them.
There are no significant new details visible on this prototype. Its overall shape mimics the concept closely with its classic long hood/short deck proportions. One notable change is the appearance of what looks like a pair of B-pillars. The concept went without them, of course, but we're guessing the production model might need them to pass the crash test standards necessary for production. We hope we're wrong on this one.
From what our spy shooters could hear, this prototype was definitely running a V8, so expect to see the current 5.7-liter Hemi as the standard power plant in the 2008 Challenger. It's hard to tell at this point what transmissions will be offered. The concept had a six-speed manual, but if Dodge wants to sell the Challenger in any significant numbers, it's going to need an automatic, too. Some speculation says the manual will be reserved for the SRT version, but we think all models will offer both.
The fact that there will be an SRT version is almost certain, however, as Dodge will be looking to capitalize on the fact that the Challenger goes on sale well before the upcoming Chevrolet Camaro. If Dodge can get a 5.7-liter model out in the spring followed by a 6.1-liter version shortly thereafter, the company will be well ahead of Chevrolet, which isn't expected to start production of the Camaro until early 2009. We hear there will be V6 versions of the Challenger, too, but probably not at launch.