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AC #84: In which the laziest automotive engineers do some of the best automotive engineering

The French talk about l’esprit de l’escalier, that frustrating moment when you come up with the perfect reply or retort to someone’s cutting comment after you’ve walked away from them. We should also recognize l’esprit de l’instagram, a unique subgenre of wit in which one says clever things exclusively on social media. I happen to know someone who is the perfect example of this—if you read automotive media, you know him too; he’s more widely published than I am. Online he is the very soul of wit, delivering “snackable” snark and just-this-side-of-confrontational comments that make me wonder why I didn’t think of them first. In person, however, he’s tongue-tied and twisted, just an earthbound misfit. You get the idea. Can barely string two words together. As Pope once wrote,

 

So well-bred spaniels civilly delight
In mumbling of the game they dare not bite.

 

Yesterday I drove the new Charger Hellcat Widebody Redeye Triple Felony Pitbull Edition. OK, I made the last part of that up. I was enthusing about it online and someone commented,

 

A showcase for the laziest kids in the engineering class.

 

Big—as the kids say nowadays—oof.

 

Read the full column on Hagerty.com:

https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/avoidable-contact/avoidable-contact-84-in-which-the-laziest-au...

 

Replies (17)

Replies (17)

Anthony Bourdain once wrote that brunch menus were so diverse because no new money was spent on brunch. A chef had to use what was on hand for brunch.


The development of the Charger and Challenger in the last decade has followed a similar path. FCA hasn't had any extra money to redesign the Charger and Challenger because the company's real money-makers needed redesigns first, and Sergio Marchionne had a quixotic desire to see one last real Alfa Romeo. Dodge has had to get creative to keep the Charger and Challenger relevant, pulling in parts from the rest of the company. Thankfully those parts are great, from uConnect to the ZF 8-speed which also finds a home in BMWs and Aston Martins. While a Dodge Charger and a Nissan 370Z have platforms that are similarly aged, the Charger doesn't feel like a relic whereas the 370Z does. Finally, Dodge has done a good job marketing these cars. This is worth noting when Chevy has utterly failed at marketing the 6th-gen Camaro.


The one place where the Charger and Challenger really show their age is the interior. Yes, it's a far cry from the cost-cut to hell and back interiors of the first-gen cars. But it doesn't hold up against the Pacifica and Ram that exist in the same showroom, for the same money.

Intermediate Driver

A buddy of mine who is NOT a car guy called me the other week and was literally crying from laughing so hard - from the front seat of his rental car.  Apparently he had an issue with the car he was to receive so the rental company swapped a 392 scat pack to make up for it....he bought one this week.

Passenger

These are well sorted cars that bring fun and value. I currently have four Lx cars floating around on my property. A 2017 300S V6, a 2006 300SRT, a 2005 300C 5.7L and just picked up a 2018 300C 5.7L.

 

The '17 is a driver that can average over 31mpg on the highway.

The SRT is my brother's street/strip toy

The '05 C is my endurance racing team's latest creation

And the 2018 I just bought to turn into a 392C since FCA no longer sells the 6.4L 300 in NAFTA.

 

They work great as tinker toy hot rods since there are so many parts combos that interchange. With the advent of the ultra high performance cars, as well as Dodge's increased participation in the police market, there are tons of genuine high performance parts to be found in factory cars.

 

For example, on the 2005 300C enduro car, we were able to retrofit the current Charger Pursuit brakes with very little hassle for a very cost effective, high performance brake upgrade. This thing will hang you off your belts at negative g while scrubbing off 110+mph lap after lap. 

 

With the 2018 C, the 6.4L bolts right in place of the 5.7L and uses the same part number ECM. Just needs a flash and 2 wires run for the short runner intake valve. The SRT rear differential bolts in and accepts the axles etc.

 

Now that major aftermarket suppliers are supporting standalone engine management and swap hardware (ie Holley etc.), expect the Hemi platform to only gain in popularity. 

New Driver

Excellent, and true. I have a 10 year old 300c and a 10 year old SRT8 challenger (Modified by Petty's Garage to be even more fun!) . They are fun , reliable and envied by most of the people I deal with. They seem to be stuck buying the 2.0 liter blobs that there partners want ( oh we should buy this, the neighbors have one) instead of getting what the like. I get lots of flak from the Mustang crowd at car shows, about how advanced Ford is and Mopar is not. I just smile as I have a GT500 but the dodge is way more fun and gets way more smiles.

New Driver

Another one outta the park, Jack.

Intermediate Driver

i've a neighbour who replaces his bramalea brute every six months or so. no idea how that's affordable. don't think he's in the writing trade and that these are loaners. he babies the machines, washing them every morning. we joke that he changes cars more often than his underwear. don't think he's indicative of the typical hellcat customer but rather a hardcore fan. and good for him.

New Driver

“...ephemeral lifespan and intergalactic servicing costs.”  Porsche in a nutshell?  Gotta love it.  

New Driver

Sometimes I wonder what circulates inside your head.  Everything from Pope to Setwright to Pink Floyd to fractured French in a column about cars.  I'm glad you're able to stream it in a coherent fashion.

Intermediate Driver

It's rather like when GM used the same chassis for everything from a Biscayne taxicab to an Impala SS to a Cadillac. Pity that there's no convertible.

New Driver

I'd bet the engineers at Chrysler would love to do a new platform or two, but the list of company owners have only been interested in the prettiest girl in that school (Jeep) and to an extent, Ram trucks...for which I'm stumped for an alliteration. No damn money, no investment, just continued wringing of the towel for the last drops of water. And may Our Lord Of Internal Combustion soon rise to smite down the soulless EV transportation pods.

Intermediate Driver

"We'll keep selling the same sh*t and people will have no choice other than buy it, because the government will force all auto makers to be like us".

 

As long as people still allow the government to decide what they can or can't buy.

 

BTW USA used to be the world's #1 car buyer, now it's China. So americans better start making babies AND allowing in every single immigrant who wants to, otherwise you'll have to get used to 2.0 liter turbo literally everything.

Passenger

A tip of the hat for quoting Setright.

New Driver

I can see the value in these cars. A friend traded an increasingly troublesome W140 S Class for a newish 300 a few years ago. The Mopar offered an equivalent driving experience at substantially lower running cost even with loan payments

Pit Crew

Every time I get in an L platform vehicle I think, 'Why the heck do I not own one of these?'. Even the 3.6L 300 is a nice car to spend time in, and for a big, rear wheel drive car, knocks down excellent fuel economy. It's quiet, comfortable, handles well, etc.. The Grand Cherokee is the same way.  Every time I drive a Wrangler I think 'Why would anyone want this, when they could have a Grand Cherokee?'  Of course, they sell the heck out Wranglers. I guess Grand Cherokees sell well too, but most Americans make decisions based on egos vs. practicality or their real needs and wants. It's mainly just what the neighbor's think. It's the American way. I think the Challenger and Charger, especially SRT versions, are the odd juxtaposition. They impress the neighbor's, but folks who own them can't seem to get enough of them and love them. My issue with them, along with mustangs, is that every cruise night and car show I go to is full up with them. Good for FCA.

Intermediate Driver

I hope they never do a new platform until CARB pulls out the lawsuit. I am the owner of a 2014 Challenger SXT base, which has served me reliably for 120,000 miles. It is roomy, it good looking, 27 MPG (new ZF transmission does better), and I get a 0-60 time of 6.13, which beats the official 6.8, the backseat fits real people, the trunk fits a wheelchair. Everything in it has been perfectly reliable despite the mediocre fit and finish, and is by far the most interesting thing at the $22,000 price point. I LOVE my car and I hope Fiat-Chrysler keeps cranking these antisocial Dukes of Hazzard cars until the bitter end. I would recommend anyone buy one, which the caveat that your not buying Toyota and Honda quality, but you get what you pay for and then some.

New Driver

Another definition of lazy could be not appropriately citing Pink Floyd. Misfit. 

Passenger

A tip of the hat for quoting lyrics from Meddle.

Passenger