2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: The Textcast
May 05, 2009
Magrath: My brain feels like mush today. I can barely type. It's kind of awesome.
Magrath: Up for lunch ramen?
Sadlier: Eh, I gotta get some cam-seal-swapping supplies at an auto parts store somewhere
Magrath: They rarely have good ramen.
Sadlier: What, auto parts stores? You'd be surprised
Sadlier: Kragen on Lincoln is a dark-horse candidate for best miso ramen in LA
Magrath: Exiting Kragen on Lincoln was the first time I fully unloaded the potential of a 335i. I headed south from that parking lot in a blaze of confused glory. I had no idea what that car was capable of.
Sadlier: Speaking of confused glory, we should do those SEMA mods to our Challenger that Chris mentioned
Magrath: All the grey stuff?
Sadlier: That's right. Or keep it black. Murder it out, dude
Magrath: Walton's point was that he feels like he's driving something super-cool when he's behind the wheel even though it's bone-stock. I feel completely ridiculous in that car all the time. Like I'm driving a clown car.
Sadlier: I'm somewhere in between. I feel super-cool when I'm on the throttle at least, not so much the rest of the time. But I'm definitely with Chris on digging the SEMA concept
Magrath: I like the SEMA concept because it lacks color. I'm over colors. I still think the car is ridiculous.
Magrath: And getting on the throttle in that car is a huge disappointment. It's a cool noise but where's the forward momentum?
Sadlier: I dunno, it's pretty fast
Sadlier: I think you've been driving the GT-R too much again
Magrath: It's not fast.
Sadlier: Hm, 5.9 to 60. Alright, not that fast
Magrath: Yep. 0.8 seconds ago the 135 was at 60.
Sadlier: But the Challenger sounds bitchin'. And you know, I'm alright with 5.9 to 60. I can live with that
Magrath: I can't. The 135 smokes it, and it doesn't have the aura of a chubby dude working at Home Depot who loves to talk about the glory days of high school football
Sadlier: Well, that's where the SEMA mods come in
Magrath: Then you look even MORE desperate.
Magrath: The only thing that could reduce the desperation oozing from that car is a crusher.
Sadlier: Note that the 5.9 to 60 is with two shifts
Magrath: Great so they didn't get the gearing right either.
Sadlier: Well, the 5,500 rpm redline or whatever isn't helping
Magrath: I really like the shifter actually. It fits my arm and hand perfectly.
Sadlier: I could do without the weird angle, but it's surprisingly decent, yes
Magrath: Thing is, I like driving the Challenger. It rides well. Nice and comfy. Quiet. Good sightlines, good driving position...it's just that the outside is so pathetic.
Magrath: It's the automotive equivalent of a class ring: people wearing them don't want to accept the present, constantly grasping at the past.
Sadlier : So it's a refined GT with an image problem. SEMA mods to the rescue!
Magrath : You know the guys you see on Sunset Blvd at night? 40+, wearing clothes that were trendy in 1999, trying to be hip, trying to figure out why they aren't cool anymore. Those are Challenger people.
Sadlier : Yeah but the SEMA Challenger is badass. Adrien Brody might drive one
Magrath : Adrien Brody drives a Z06, what does he know?
Sadlier : Exactly!
Magrath : It is, if I remember correctly, pretty cool and "murdered out," but still....
Sadlier : I want a Z06, and I want a SEMA Challenger
Magrath : SEMA can't fix what's wrong with the Challenger. It's like assuming that plastic surgery cures the aging process.
Sadlier : You're saying the Challenger's problems are more than skin-deep? I thought you agreed that it's fundamentally a good car. The backseat is enormous. So is the trunk, if I recall correctly. V8, nice ride, quiet...what more do you want, aside from steering that doesn't suck?
Magrath : Actually you're right. The Challenger's problems are entirely skin deep. The analogy needed more depth. Try this:
Magrath : SEMA doesn't have what it takes to fix the Challenger. Its problems may only be skin deep, but simple add-ons won't do it. It's like assuming that a face lift reverses aging. The Challenger is a solid car but the design -- both inside and out -- is too old to salvage. Like Joan Rivers.
Sadlier : But the interior materials are pretty good. And I like the seats.
Sadlier : Give me the SEMA exterior treatment and some feel and precision from a steering wheel that couldn't reasonably be swapped into a city bus, and I'm onboard
Magrath : The dash is thick and the seats are comfy but the look....gah...it's so, so, Chrysler.
Magrath : Short of giving me one with the stipulation that I can't sell it and buy something else, there's no way I'd own a Challenger.
Sadlier : Still, I'd rather have the Challenger's overall refinement and forgettable interior design than, say, the 370Z's painstakingly designed/crafted interior and ridiculous road and engine noise
Magrath : Road and engine noise, sure, but also stellar driving manners and non-ridiculous looks.
Sadlier : Psh. I think the Challenger is way cooler-looking than the Z
Magrath : You're not embarrassed to get into that car?
Magrath : Swinging open the 11-foot door doesn't fill you with shame?
Magrath : It's like buying a Britney Spears CD, or a ticket to see the Sex and the City movie.
Sadlier : Your mushy brain is on a roll today
Magrath : Or, worse, it's like buying those items that, every once in a while, your girlfriend needs at the convenience store. That's a more apt example.
Magrath : You go in, find what's needed, grab it and head for the register. There's a point where your eyes will meet those of the clerk and you'll want to explain, "Really, guy, these aren't mine. Clearly." But he'll know that. It's how these things work. I want to explain to everyone who sees me in the Challenger that I don't in fact own something this sad. If I get it for a weekend I'm going to have to put on a bumper sticker that says "My other car isn't desperate."
Sadlier : The only things that fill me with shame are the dorky ride height and wheels on our long-termer
Sadlier : If you got the SEMA car for the weekend, you'd change your tune
Magrath : I don't think I would. At that point people would assume that I've not only bought one of these stupid things, I also like it enough to mod it.
Magrath : OR...
Magrath : They'd think I bought a car that I initially didn't like, so I had to monkey around with it to make it tolerable.
Magrath : Like going to a restaurant, seeing they have nothing you like and, instead of leaving, walking to 7-11, buying some canned vegetables, and smearing them all over what the chef serves you.
Sadlier : Your analogies are on fire
Magrath : I need a video camera on me at all times.
Magrath : I think you could probably make this into a textcast.
Sadlier : Oh, I sure will
Magrath : Last word: I kind of dig the old Challengers. People driving them today have to pay for the privilege either with hard work and a lot of time, or with a metric-bucket of cash. The new one is riding on the coattails of past glory and I just can't get behind something like that. The new Camaro on the other hand, I'm 100% behind that. Gold Chain Lane , here I come.