Single offer received for Dodge Viper business

May 29th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Devon GTX s

Recent court documents filed by Chrysler indicate that there is only one offer on the table for its Dodge Viper business. The lonely offer is well under the $10 million asking price that the bankrupt automaker has been seeking and If a suitable buyer isn’t found, it’s likely that the assembly plant where the Viper is manufactured will be closed down this December.

The sole $5.5 million USD bid came from Devon Motor Works, a small boutique coachbuilder based in Michigan, USA that has plans to launch a new supercar of its own called the Devon GTX (pictured), which will be based on the underpinnings of the Dodge Viper. The GTX is scheduled to make a run at the Nürburgring lap record for a production vehicle (currently held by a Dodge Viper ACR) sometime in July, after which it will be officially debuted at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours in the states.

Chrysler first looked at selling off its Viper line last August, and the troubled automaker still claims that it has other interested parties, but it’s now clear that it’s very short on actual realistic offers. The bottom line is that $5.5 million USD is better than nothing especially when you owe billions of dollars. Chrysler is apparently looking into Devon’s offer to verify that the small company has sufficient resources to close the deal.

Does bankruptcy for Chrysler mean death for Viper?

May 6th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Dodge Viper SRT10 fq

With Chrysler officially bankrupt things are now looking more dire than ever for the iconic Dodge Viper. Chrysler has been looking to sell the Viper line for a while and several potential buyers were reportedly being considered, but months down the line no deal has been announced. Now, Chrysler has announced it will be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy before restructuring in a new partnership with Fiat. But what’s to happen to the Viper?

According to recent reports from Detroit, Viper could face the axe, for real. Chrysler says it is still considering offers on the Viper line, but an early analysis of the company’s restructuring strategy suggests that the Viper is a financial liability for the company and will be dropped during the bankruptcy process. The Conner Avenue Assembly plant where 115 workers build the Viper is one of several earmarked for potential closure, along with many other Chrysler facilities. Fiat may not be too keen on keeping the Viper alive considering it’s a bad asset and Ferrari is a Fiat subsidiary.

It’s not only the Viper’s head on the chopping block with several trucks — including the Dodge Ram, Dakota and Jeep Wrangler facing the axe as Chrysler aims to streamline.

GTA Spano – Spanish supercar unveiled

May 4th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

GTA Spano fq

The Spanish auto industry is going from strength to strength and now has it’s very own Supercar the GTA Spano. Spanish racing team GTA has been hard at work developing its own supercar to rival the best from Ferrari and Lamborghini for some time now. After months of preparation the GTA Spano has finally made its debut in Valencia, the same Mediterranean coastal city that hosts the European Grand Prix. Lmited details have been revealed at the Spano’s launch.

Styling is attractive if rather generic but laying benath is the beating heart of the beast: an 8.3-litre V10, lifted from the Dodge Viper, and tuned to deliver 780 horsepower. That’s apparently good enough to take the carbon, kevlar and titanium supercar to 100 km/h in just 2.9 seconds. The engine is mated to a choice of seven-speed paddle-shifter, automatic or floor manual transmission, 19″ wheels wrapped in ultra-low-profile rubber grip the road at all fours. Production will be limited to just 99 examples, each available at a price of around $1.16 million NZD. Given GTA’s racing background, a competition version is also expected to be in the works, so check back.

The Saleen SMS 570X – faster than a text message

April 17th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Saleen SMS 570X rq

Muscle car maestro Steve Saleen has just unveiled his latest monster creation, the SMS 570X. The Dodge Challenger-based vehicle registers a few notches above the 570 that was first viewed in January. Where that car was fitted with a 5.7-litre V8, the 570X utilizes a 6.0-litre engine, reportedly good for 700 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque – plenty of grunt to shred those wide and flat 20-inch tyres.

The engine includes forged parts galore (pistons, crankshaft, con-rods, etc.) sitting beneath new CNC-ported aluminum heads. In addition, the 570X receives a SMST six-speed manual transmission and a high-performance cooling package. The heart of the car is a production version of the SMS 296 supercharger, the firm’s new blower co-developed with Lysholm.

While the supercharger comes as part of the 570X package, it will also work on other Chrysler LX products including the Charger, Magnum, and Chrysler 300C. Saleen also promises that “aftermarket fitments” are in the works for both Ford and GM products.

Visually, the X is nearly identical to the original 570, which is a good thing, because it’s a looker. A side-induction hood work in with vented fenders and a new front fascia. With a lowered stance, it has a GTX-style grille, fender vents, carbon-fibre splitter and side skirts, and a rear spoiler, the 570X is classic Motown muscle.

Production time for Mr Norm’s Super Challenger and Cuda

March 23rd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Mr Norms Challenger fq

At last year’s SEMA Auto Show legend American Dodge dealer and car tuner Mr Norm showed a seriously upgraded Dodge Super Challenger. It was a total success and became one of the highlights of the show. Now, Mr Norm’s latest addition to its long-running ‘Super’ line of cars is based around the new Dodge Challenger, more specifically the high-performance SRT8 model. The Super Challenger and the Super Cuda have just begun full production at Mr. Norm’s facilities in Florida, USA.

The Super Challenger takes its inspiration from the original 1971 Mr. Norm’s Super Challenger Super Fuel Funny Car. The show car featured a black paint scheme with red stripes and ‘Mr. Norm’ labeling on the front fenders. Inside, the Super Challenger gets custom Katzkin leather trim, a Hurst pistol grip shifter, and special door sills.

Exterior upgrades include 22in forged wheels by Rodtana, Pirelli Scorpion Zero tires, a Hotchkis suspension kit, a Mopar ‘Six-Pack’ hood, and a SSBC eight-piston brake package. A new front spoiler and side scoops by Hurst Customs provide the finishing touches.

Modifications to the car’s 6.1 litre HEMI V8 include a Corsa Performance cat back dual exhaust system and a Kenne Bell supercharger system with a front-mount intercooler. The end result is a claimed 900hp (671kW) output. For those that don’t want to speed around with their hair on fire there’s a tamer 650hp (485kW) kit available too.

The Super ‘Cuda’ features similar mods to the Challenger but has been designed to resemble the original AAR Cuda from the 1970s. It’s intended as a modern interpretation of the classic Cuda grille and tail panel, coupled with an aggressive front spoiler and black body stripes. The Super Challengers are available in a range of colors but the Super Cuda is available solely in Hemi Orange.

Dodge Challenger beats Ford Mustang for sales

March 16th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Over in the states the iconic Ford Mustang has been a driving force in the sales department for a long time. That changed last month when Ford’s iconic pony car has been outsold by the Dodge Challenger by 293 units in February, as the Dodge coupe racked up 3,283 sales during the month. The Challenger’s February victory could be a sign of things to come for the Mustang, as the Blue Oval’s most recognisable vehicle is set to get bombarded with more competition coming from the 2010 Camaro. The Camaro, which goes into regular production on March 16, already has over 10,000 pre-orders waiting.

Don’t rule out the Mustang yet, as the pony car is getting a major makeover shortly. In fact, one reason the Challenger defeated the Mustang in February might be that many potential buyers are waiting for the 2010 model. Automakers also slow production before retooling for a new model, meaning there are fewer 2009 Mustangs from which to choose. The pony car wars are set to continue.

Dodge Journey R/T 2009 Review

February 27th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

dodge-journey-r_t-fq

Back in 1935 the first American B-17 bomber prototype crashed nose-first and few people thought much of it with the exception of its makers, Boeing. Ten years later over 12 thousand B-17s had been built dropping more than 640,000 bombs in total and had earned itself a staunch reputation for utility and durability and the name ‘flying fortress’.

Hit the fast-forward button to 2009 and the U.S Air force maintains an unchallenged level of air firepower. But far under the clouds there is a new battleground for flying fortresses — the MPV marketplace. In the current tough economic climate American vehicle manufacturers are deep into survival mode. In a bid for total people-moving superiority the Chrysler group has added a new weapon to its arsenal in the Dodge Journey.At first sighting it may be hard to categorise the Journey, it has the look of a SUV, the stance of a wagon and three rows of seats. To label it a ‘Mini-Van’ would be treason when it’s a mid-size MPV/Crossover.

The exterior styling isn’t as polarising as the Dodge Nitro, but the Journey has a robust presence that will make some allies and intimidate competitors. The signature Dodge grille, with chrome cross hair and ram’s head badging, sits between quad-halogen headlights. A dipping bonnet and a raked-back windscreen add to the muscular appearance. In profile the Journey shows its sculpted wheel arches, and black pillars help give the impression of a bright spacious family-hauler. The rear design is far softer in character. An angled single-panel lift-gate with a built in spoiler matches up with jeweled four-piece taillights. Overall, the Journey has no-nonsense styling that extends a ready-for-duty attitude.

Get onboard and it becomes clear that the Journey shares the B-17’s utilitarian character. The many storage options and various seating configurations are class leading. There are two in-floor waterproof storage bins that sit between the first two rows of seats big enough for a camera, laptop or small arms cache. There is also a refrigerated compartment in the glove box that can keep two cans of drink cold. Further to that there is a large storage bin under the passenger seat cushion and more hidden storage under the rear load area floor. Stadium seating means the second row sits slightly higher than the front row, and the third row back is elevated even more. This increases visibility and makes games of eye-spy much more varied.

It required a 10-man crew to operate the B-17 but pilot alone can easily operate the Journey. The tested model was equipped with the MyGig infotainment system with a 30Gb hard disk that features a DVD player, sat-nav, reversing camera and a 6700 song music capacity. It’s a classy unit that is simple to operate and the LCD screen is mounted in a hooded surrounding above the centre stack, making it easy to read while driving.

Unfortunately the cabin isn’t all victories; the instrument cluster is strangely shallow and dated in its design. There are also tell-tale signs of the Journey’s double-agent status as both a right and left hand drive vehicle, the most obvious is the symmetrical dash layout and the hand brake mounted on the far side of the centre console. Touch surfaces are inconsistent, feeling firm in some areas and flimsy in others. The radio and control buttons are not tactile feeling, seem loose and are mounted distantly from the display screen.

Two-tone leather seats look great and the colours blend well into the door-inserts, wide and comfortable, they offer a commanding driving position. The cabin’s atmosphere overall is very light and pleasant, space is generous even in the third row of seats. There are too many useful subtle interior touches to list for example the second row of seats can be slid forward offering easy access for a driver to tend to children, and the rear doors open a full 90 degrees assisting those seeking the back seats.

Armed with a 136kW, 2.7-litre V6 engine the Journey produces 256Nm of torque. This could be best described as not quite adequate. The Journey isn’t quick on takeoff but cruises well once up to speed and has decent mid-range acceleration. Most buyers in this segment wouldn’t be too interested in straight-line performance, but the Journey’s burly size and weight are definitely noticeable when accelerating. The six-speed auto box is a gem working hard to extract full performance from the motor, quick to shift down and intuitive in its changes.

Propelled by the front wheels solely the Journey has no true off-road credentials, as its styling may suggest. However, the front-wheel-drive configuration makes the Journey easy to drive and predictable in all conditions but there is a little torque-steer under acceleration. The steering is responsive, firmly weighted and reasonably precise. The Journey experiences some body-lean while cornering giving away its high-altitude ride height. However, the ride is very comfortable and the Journey gobbles up potholes and road bumps with hunger. Wind and road noise are minimal in the cabin and a tranquil atmosphere is always sustained. Despite being a vehicle that was translated from left-hand drive, there’s reasonable room in the footwell, something that can’t be said for some of the Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep family.

The Journey is equipped with a full payload of safety functions, including an ESP (Electronic Stability Program), three-row side curtain air bags, multi-stage driver and passenger airbags and Anti-lock Brakes.

Like the flying fortresses of old, the Journey’s real firepower lays in its utility and robustness. It’s a well sized seven-seater with a good collection of cabin equipment options. More effort could have gone into the dash layout and interior material choices, but it is easy-to-use and seems very durable. Dodge’s attempts at gaining a foothold in the N.Z market are reflected in the aggressive pricing for the Journey making it good value for money. All up it’s a solid choice for large families who require a dependable lifestyle vehicle with passenger space to load up the kids, fly past schools and activities and drop them off.

Price: from $45,990

What we like:

  • Useful cabin equipment
  • Spacious interior with great storage options
  • Sharp styling
  • Well priced

What we don’t like:

  • Underpowered
  • Body-roll while cornering
  • Interior finish

Words and Photos, Adam Mamo

Dodge Journey R/T (2009) – Specifications

Engine

2.7L DOHC 24V V6
” Power kW @ rpm 136 @ 5,500
” Torque Nm @ rpm 256 @ 4,000
” Transmission 6-speed automatic with Autostick®

Fuel Consumption (L/100 km)

” Urban cycle 9.1 15.0
” Extra-urban cycle 5.9 7.6
” Combined cycle 7.0 10.3
” CO2 (g/km) 186 246

Performance

” Acceleration ” seconds (0-100 km/h) 11.6
” Maximum speed (km/h)182

Weights kg

” Kerb weight 1,785 R/T
” Gross vehicle weight rating 2,520

Capacities kg

” Max towing capacity Inc. tongue weight
7 Passenger + luggage
6 Passenger + 50kg luggage
1,368 / 68
1,600 / 160
” Oil with new filter L  5.7
” Engine coolant system L  11.4
” Fuel tank capacity L 77.6
” Washer fluid volume L 6

Wheels & Tyres SXT R/T

Standard wheel type 19″ machined cast aluminium
Tyres size 225/55R19
Spare tyre Compact

Steering

Type – Firm feel power rack and pinion
Overall ratio 18.6:1
Turns (lock to lock) 3.3
Turning diameter m 11.9

Brakes

Discs ” Front/Rear 302×28/305×12
Calipers ” Front/Rear 66.0/66.0

Oil Change Intervals

Service A Flexible Oil Change Interval System ” 12,000 km (petrol engines)

Warranty Duration 3 years/100,000 kilometres

Chrysler confirms new vehicles for 2010

October 8th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Dodge Charger RT 2009 fq

Chrysler has ended speculation about what new products it will be rolling out in 2010, CEO Bob Nardelli confirmed there will be redesigned full-size vehicles. These will come in the form of a new Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 as well as a new Jeep. While these vehicles will not be exceptionally fuel efficient, Nardelli did stress that fuel-saving models are on their way due to Chrysler’s recent partnership with Nissan. The new vehicle Chrysler is predicted to put into production is the Dodge Hornet concept that has been around for the last couple of years.

The redesigned Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger will be highly important launches. Styling is expected to be very different since Ralph Gilles has taken over as head of design. We will have to wait and see.