Remember the late ‘60s muscle car boom, when automakers built the most awesome car technologically possible, unfettered by the red tape of regulations governing safety, emissions and fun? When engineers raced to cram the biggest, most powerful engine into the lightest car? Cars that produced so much torque, you could feel the frame flex when you hammered it off the line? Well, I don’t actually remember it, ‘cause I hadn’t been born yet, but it sounds like a magical time, and every time I think about it, I feel like I was born too late.
And here’s a secret: It’s the ‘60s all over again right now, and the muscle car party is full swing. Technology has finally caught up with performance, and engineers are wringing more horsepower out of new, cleaner-burning engines with no limit in sight, emboldened by air bags everywhere and Volvo-like safety ratings. The SRT8 Dodge Challenger puts out a whopping 470 horsepower, and thanks to decent handling and suspension, every bit of it us usable and controllable. The V8 Hemi intelligently shuts off select cylinders when not needed, dramatically improving fuel economy, but it still lopes along rudely at idle, daring anyone at the stoplight to play.
The cars are safer than ever, but can you really expect insurance companies to continue covering 470-hp beasts like this? I think it’s only a matter of time before they’re regulated away.
This 2012 SRT8 Challenger is equipped with the unusual option of a manual transmission, so it’s the car I’d want for burnouts. It’s truly a new car, showing just delivery miles, which means the seller is likely motivated to clear it off the lot and make space for the 2013s. I’ll be watching the listing very closely.