2009 Dodge Challenger Long Term Road Test

2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: NASCAR Decals

March 04, 2010

Dodge Challenger NASCAR Nationwide CoT front.jpgHe couldn't hold it.That face, I mean. You know, that face you make when you cruise up alongside some guy on the highway and invite him to engage in an illicit exhibition of speed.

Anyway he couldn't hold it and just laughed and we were both laughing really, since we were each driving down the Harbor Freeway in a Dodge Challenger and were surrounded by people who were not as lucky as we were. So he sped off toward his exit after this traditional rite of the True Brotherhood and it made me think about the tenuous hold that cars like the Challenger have in a world that threatens them with extinction every day. When you think about it, the Challenger is a car that could disappear overnight.

Maybe NASCAR will keep this from happening.

2010 Dodge Challenger NASCAR Nationwide CoT r34.jpg

It's easy to love the Challenger for its rarity on the road, but you also have to worry that it might ultimately seem irrelevant. It might just become some kind of car being hauled on a trailer to a weekend drag race, just like that red '70 Challenger with the blower and wide drag slicks being towed behind a motorhome that I saw on the way to work this morning. We might need a little reminder within the culture that it's posible to own cars like this and drive them on the road.

NASCAR is going to do its part by making over the race cars in its second-tier Nationwide-sponsored series into pony car surrogates. The result might not be pretty, since the full-size Car of Tomorrow platform being raced in the Sprint Cup will simply be adapted to a Challenger grille and graphics, but at least it's something.

These new Nationwide COT cars were tested last fall and a very insightful story about them was developed by Racecar Engineering. Before the COT platform is required from all the Nationwide teams for the 2011 season, it'll be raced by a number of teams four times during the 2010 season: July 2 at Daytona; August 14 at Michigan; September 10 at Richmond and October 23 at Charlotte. Challenger and Mustang packages will be in the mix, but Chevrolet has declined to involve the Camaro.

Naturally it's disappointing that we have to rely on what are essentially little more thandecal packages to make the case for cars like the Dodge Challenger, but I think I'm in favor of anything that makes people aspire to that moment when you're driving down the road in one and meet another member of the Brotherhood.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor @ 21,540 miles

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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2009 Dodge Challenger in VA is:

$149 per month*
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