What a way to close out the era…
By now you’ve probably already heard about why Dodge has delayed the release of the final “Last Call” Challenger/Charger muscle car. Originally set to debut at the SEMA Show to much fanfare, Dodge blamed the setback on supply chain shortages without directly saying so. Well, surprise, surprise, that’s apparently not entirely true, something I’ve come to expect from Dodge in the past couple years or so. Instead, the real reason of exploding Hemi engines is so metaphorical for what’s going on with Dodge right now it's sad and pathetic.
Check out our timeline of the beginning of the end of modern Mopar muscle here.
Really, the trouble started when Chrysler was sold for a song and a dance to the Italians, with astute businessman President Obama proctoring the sweet deal while taxpayers got the financial shaft. Things were okay for a while, what with Dodge coming out with ever more interesting and insane versions of the Challenger and Charger. However, in there was the seed of destruction.
You see, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne had become convinced the company he helmed wasn’t big enough for what was coming. The man knew the electrification push would be mandated and expensive, so he wanted to merge with another colossal automaker to create a larger monstrosity, leveraging economies of scale. Comically, he made public overtures to several other automakers, including GM and Volkswagen Group, getting shot down like a star crossed teenager asking his crush to prom in front of the entire student body.
Marchionne never did realize his dream, however he got the ball rolling. With Fiat Chrysler joining up with the Peugeot Group, Stellantis was created. One of the first orders of business in the French-Italian-American conglomeration was to disband the SRT Division. That was no coincidence. With the need to pour resources into electrification, there was no time to fool around, wasting resources on making V8 cars more insanely powerful.
Dodge hasn’t come right out and admitted it, but the Hemi V8 might be officially withdrawn from the Challenger and Charger model lines when this new production generation starts. That’s why we’re getting these “Last Call” models. Honestly, most have been pathetic aesthetic packages, and now I think I know why that is.
The final “Last Call” is supposed to be the performance moonshot all of them should have been, to be bluntly honest. But with resources diverted to that ridiculous “electric muscle car” we saw drive at 5 mph or under while making some sickly growling noise, we only get one moonshot model. And that one is having all kinds of problems. This isn’t because of supply chain issues, it’s because Stellantis has drained talent away from Dodge muscle cars, directing it to EV development.
Nobody wants to say this because to question if the emperor wears any clothes at all these days is hate speech. Considering Dodge already won’t respond to my messages, deferring instead to the Stellantis legal team which responds just how you’d expect a corporate attorney to communicate, I’m here to say what my fellow access-laden automotive journalists don’t dare.
Just remember, all these problems are being had in a group which brought us the Viper, Hellcat, Demon, Redeye, etc. Suddenly they can’t figure out what’s probably a setup some guys using a barebones garage and tools in a backwoods part of the country can? I hate to say it, but the exploding engine problem in the final Dodge special edition Challenger/Charger doesn’t bode well for the future. Hope everyone enjoys their compact electric crossovers designed by Pierre Delecto.