Something tragic may be about to happen. To Dodge. Which is the last American car company, even if it is owned by a foreign conglomerate (Stellantis).
It sells cars, first of all – which is a thing almost no one else does anymore – in favor of these Universal Transportation Appliance crossover SUVs, which overlap each other so closely it is difficult to divine why there needs to be more than one brand selling various sizes and colors of them.
Dodge sells cars. American cars. Big, ballsy cars – with big V8s that drive the rear wheels that average Americans can afford to buy.
No one else sells cars like that anymore. It is probably why Dodge sells a lot of them, even though all of them are pushing 15 years old, in terms of the last time they received a significant redesign. Which they haven’t because they don’t need it – as evidenced by the fact that people continue to buy them, eagerly.
For precisely that reason.
You don’t fix what ain’t broke.
As by this force-feeding of electric cars down the throats of unwilling Americans – the automotive equivalent of the attempt to force-needle every American, most especially the so-called “hesitant” (to be forced to submit to an injection that may harm or even kill them for the sake of protecting them – allegedly – from a sickness that doesn’t meaningfully threaten them).
The source of all this force being these pathological people – “the government” – who think they know best and are determined to make us do what they think is best. This to include no more driving the kinds of cars Dodge makes, that no one else makes – in favor of electric cars that everyone else makes.
Or rather, that everyone else is being forced to make.
Tesla already makes electric muscle cars – which they aren’t, either. They are very quick cars, certainly. But that is not what defines a muscle car and surely Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis, who said earlier this week – with a proverbial gun to his head – “If a charger can make a Charger faster, then we’re all for it” – knows better.
No! You know it ain’t so, Tim!
My 1976 Pontiac Trans-Am would not stand a chance in a stoplight heads-up with a Tesla S, which can get to 60 in less than 3 seconds. But no matter how quickly the Tesla gets to 60 or runs a quarter mile it will never be a muscle car.
Speed is not everything.
Muscle cars are about many other things, too. Things electric cars will never have, except perhaps in ersatz form, such as a sound track that makes its electric motor sound like a big V8 with a hot cam – which is as pathetic to people who appreciate the real thing as alcohol-free beer.
What is there to see under the hood of an electric car? A bigger or smaller electric motor. If you can even see it. There is no intangible difference, one motor vs. another. They are all fundamentally the same, which obviates any reason to get emotionally attached to one vs. another.
Muscle cars are defined by their beating (almost literally) hearts. The Charger and Challenger are powered by iterations of Dodge’s storied and iconic Hemi V8, an engine that is uniquely Dodge – just as the 455 V8 under the hood of my ’76 Trans-Am is uniquely Pontiac and not a Chevy engine.
Not that there is anything wrong with Chevy engines. The Z28 is a magnificent car, too. And it is defined by its uniquely Chevy V8s, from the original high-RPM 302 in the ’67-69 Z28 through the various iterations of the 350 that came afterward. But they were not the same, any of them, as the Pontiac engines found under the hood of cars like my Trans-Am, which gave people a reason to prefer – and buy – one or the other.
A new Challenger or Charger has the same difference. People love and buy these cars because they want that raucous, rumbling Hemi. Quiet is a defect when it comes to muscle cars.
If they didn’t want the sound and the fury – if they wanted something quieter and even quicker – they’d have bought a Tesla or something like the Tesla, which is like everything else that has the same damned thing under its hood (and floorpans).
Something that’s more of a ride than a drive.
Any stubble-chinned soy boy can push the button for “ludicrous speed.” It takes a man (and a woman) to handle an R/T Challenger Scat Pack’s 6.4 liter Hemi, connected to a six-speed manual transmission – which you can say bye-bye to in Our Electrified Future. Electric cars have no transmissions; they are direct drive. Nothing to do but push the gas and let the car drive you.
No matter how fast, something critically important is being lost. If you still care about the Drive. And Kuniskis knows this. He’s just got a gun to his head, as is true of everyone else trying to build cars people want as opposed to the cars the government – those people, god damn them – are trying to force everyone to buy. By making it illegal or impossibly expensive to keep on building them, via the regs.
Speaking of which . . .
Dodge also sells something else which electrification will almost certainly put a stop to:
You can buy a new V8 Challenger R/T, right now, for $35,570 – which is about the same as you’d spend to buy a loaded Toyota Camry and about half the price of a base model Tesla S ($79,990). Average Americans can afford a V8 Challenger. Most average Americans cannot afford a Tesla S, even if they wanted one – and every American who bought a Challenger doesn’t want one.
A Charger with a charger and a motor and batteries will cost a great deal more than a Charger with an engine – and not just in terms of money.
Kuniskis knows the deal. But he is being made an offer he can’t refuse.
God damn these people, who are “the government.”
. . .
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