The first bad news of the new year is that it’s official. Dodge will no longer be making muscle cars after 2023. As distinct from making Chargers and Challengers – which Dodge will still be making after that – for awhile.
Because muscle cars are powered by burly V8 engines, not turbocharged six cylinder engines. Which Dodge just announced will replace the burly V8 engines that make the Charger/Challenger muscle cars.
Without them, they are just cars.
Probably, fast cars. Maybe even faster cars than they are right now. Dodge hints they will be. But speed isn’t everything – even as regards muscle cars. Especially as regards muscle cars. The fact is established by the fact that not one muscle car made back in the ‘60s and ‘70s is even close to being as speedy as a Tesla electric car and yet no one considers the Tesla a muscle car – the proposition is absurd – while the bona fides of the actual muscle cars are not in question.
People esteem the old bruisers even though they aren’t the most “muscular” things around anymore – if the definition of “muscle” is some combination of horsepower, 0-60 and quarter-mile times.
If that’s the definition, then a bullet train is a muscle car, too – and everyone knows it’s not.
Most original muscle cars – even the ones with big block V8s – weren’t much speedier than a current family car with a small six, like the Toyota Camry. But the Camry is not a muscle car, either. And neither will a Charger or Challenger powered by a small six, the Global Medium Engine (GME) Turbocharged 6 – which is the just-announced replacement for the V8s that make cars like the Charger and Challenger special because on account of them, they are unlike any other car.
Without those V8s – and the sounds and sensations only V8s make – all you’re left with is speed. And that’s no longer special because it’s become common. A Tesla “plaid” is just as quick – even a little bit quicker – than a supercharged V8-powered Hellcat Redeye Charger or Challenger. But people who buy the latter bought the latter rather than the former.
Because they wanted more than just speed. They want other, intangible things. Like the sound of the V8 – and the hair-raising gear whine of the blower perched atop. The same reason, essentially, that Harley buyers buy a Harley rather than something else that’s the same as everything else. Only a Harley sounds – and feels – like a Harley.
Numbers aren’t everything – unless you’re talking ’bout displacement, Willis – and then it matters, a lot. How many other cars are packing 6.2 (or even 6.4) liters of engine?
It’s analogous to the prestige which once came along for the ride when you owned a luxury car powered by a V12, which was a kind of engine almost no one else had. Which made owning a V12-powered car something special.
It no longer is, because luxury cars are now powered by the same turbo 2.0 fours as cars without the luxury car price. It feels like a gyp – and it is.
And which the management just decided it will no longer sell, leaving Dodge selling the same thing as everyone else, just packaged a little differently.
That will be The End, though it may take a couple of years of slow-dying first.
General Motors used to have a number of very successful divisions, including Pontiac – which sold very successful cars like the Firebird. Which wasn’t a Camaro, though related to them. What made it a Pontiac was its engine, which wasn’t built by Chevrolet. People bought Firebirds precisely because they didn’t want a rebodied Camaro – with no offense intended toward the latter. Better or worse isn’t the point.
What mattered was difference.
Pontiac wasn’t Chevy – and Chevy wasn’t Pontiac. The latter were successful so long as they weren’t Chevys. They became unsuccessful when they became rebodied Chevys. After the 1981 model year, a Firebird had the same engines as a Camaro. Which made it a Camaro in every way that mattered.
After a few more years, there were no more Firebirds – because why bother when it’s the same? After awhile, no more Pontiac, either.
Why bother with a muscle car that isn’t, anymore? Which no longer comes with the thing that made it a muscle car – and without which it is just another car, irrespective of how speedy a car it may be?
Down that dead end road lies extinction.
Dodge isn’t kicking the Hemi to the curb because people don’t want to buy them. Dodge can’t build them fast enough to keep up with demand for them. The main reason for that being Dodge is the last car brand still selling them. Well, not counting Ram and Jeep, which also still sell them (more on that follows).
The only reason Dodge has decided to stop selling them is because of government ukase regarding the “emission” of carbon dioxide gasses, enmeshed with ukase regarding how much gasoline engines are permitted to consume, which ukase makes building big V8s extremely difficult and soon, impossible.
The plug is being pulled so as to push people toward plugging in. Which is more than just that, as your libertarian car guy has been hollering about for decades. The object isn’t “electrification” – much less to “save” the environment.
And part of that death process is to kill off interest in cars, which is furthered down the road by using ukase to render all cars the same. Very speedy – and very homogenous. Compress-your-spine acceleration without doing a thing to make you feel something else.
One car same as another, so why bother?
In the end – and we’re close enough now to see it – it will be transportation. “Provided” as a “service” . . . provided you’re sufficiently socially compliant, of course.
Nor for Dodge, either – which is choosing to abet its own extermination by exterminating the very thing which currently gives Dodge life.
Also Ram, by the way – since the Hemi’s cancelling encompasses what’s under the hood of trucks, too. Also Jeeps, such as the Grand Cherokee and SRT 392 Wrangler.
It was fun while it lasted, at least.
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