2009 Dodge Challenger Long Term Road Test


2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Rubbing Shoulders at Beach Burgers

March 27, 2009

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All photos by Brent Romans

On Saturday, our long-term 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T willattend the 4th annual Spring Festival of LXs, a national gathering of owners of all modern-dayLX-platform cars (Challenger,Charger, 300 and Magnum)in Irvine, California.Our Challenger R/T and Igot a head start on the partying last night, as the SoCal LX Owners Club hosted the out-of-towners at Beach Burgers in Huntington Beach, CA.

The Beach Burgers lotis small, so even though we arrived a half-hour early,the two-ton lugs were already shoulder to shoulder. Notably, one of the Challengers in attendance was a version of the Speedfactory Vortech Supercharged SRT8 we tested in January.

Finally, we settled for a space in the back lot next to a white Challenger R/T (with black hood decaling) with Idaho plates. Its owner, Robert, had just driven it in from Texas, and it was still warm. Like our Challenger, it had the six-speed manual gearbox. Unlike our Challenger, which sits like a crossover on its 18-inch alloys, Robert's R/T had apretty nice (read: lower) stance.

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Robert saidhe swapped out the stock R/T suspension bits for SRT8pieces... purchased from a Challenger SRT8 owner who put on the KW coil-oversas on the Speedfactory car.

"This is my daily driver," said Robert, "but I like to drive quickly sometimes, and the standard suspension is too soft."

His car still has the optional 20-inch chrome wheels, but he has his eye toward a 1970-esque replacement, probably Torq Thrust look-alike wheels from Coys.

Robert, who's studying to be an auto machinist, has also fitted his car witha cold air intake, a larger throttle body, SRT8 headers and an upgraded exhaust, including rectangular quad tips like on the '70 Challenger. Theseadditions are mild, though, compared to what he has in mind after the factory warranty expires: "I'm going to put in a bigger motor with a blower."

Robertlikes the pistol grip on the stock six-speed's shifter as much asI do. But he wants shorter throws.

"I'm going put in the Hurst short-throw shifter mechanicals but leave the pistol grip," he said.

(I should note that I'm still a fan of our Challenger's six-speed gearbox after a 1-hour, 45-minute slog from Santa Monica to Huntington Beach. In stop-and-go traffic, its long, easy throws and light clutchare your friends.)

Other thanits lower stance,my favorite touchon Robert's white R/T wasthe'70s-script Challenger badgehe added to the grille. It's very old-school, and with this car, there's no other way to play it.

And, if you go to Beach Burgers, order the Frisco Burger, medium rare.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 2,780 miles

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