You can do what Cliff Hinkle has done with his ’09 Challenger R/T.

Cliff’s not one to keep his cars factory stock. “Every car that I’ve owned has been a custom car, in some way, shape or form,” he says. “I can’t ride stock! I’ve changed the look and performance of every car that I’ve owned.”

That included this Challenger, once Cliff got it home from the dealer—with just delivery miles on it—a few years back. His first step involved the chassis. “I had to get it lowered some,” says Cliff. “I used the Eibach two-inch lowering kit, the Sport Line kit that includes sway bars, springs, and shocks.”

The rolling stock was next. “The second thing was a set of wheels, which were the SRT reproduction-Viper wheels,” Cliff recalls. “Then, I got rid of those and got the Vossen wheels, which are pictured on the car.” Those 22-inch wheels wear ultra-high-performance, Giugiaro-designed Vredestein tires.

Most of this work was done before Cliff started working for Southern Hotrod (www.southernhotrod.com), who specializes in late-model Mopar performance and who made Cliff’s R/T a project car. “I’m in sales here, so it’s my rolling billboard-type deal.”

That meant upgrades like a Corsa “Xtreme” cat-back system downstream of the ’09’s 5.7 Hemi, along with a Mopar cold-air kit, BBK throttle body, a set of Kook’s long-tube headers, and a custom tune by Southern Hotrod. Not only does it sound right, but it spins the dyno dials to 357 horsepower, and around 380 lb-ft of torque at the back wheels.

Outside of Mopar side graphics, a Speedlogix fiberglass hood, and a top-end Polk/Memphis Audio sound system, not much else was done—but that was plenty enough. Cliff describes driving it this way: “It’s a blast, man! It handles like it’s on rails, and it runs pretty good. It’s not the fastest in the quarter-mile, but it’s an R/T, not an SRT8.”

It’s also good for business, too. “Everything that’s been done to my car is pretty much what I do here at the shop,” says Cliff. “It’s a form of advertisement for [us]—everything that was done to my car, [we] can do here in the shop.” He adds, “I can’t tell you how many exhaust jobs I’ve sold by just starting my car up!”

If you’re considering upgrading a late-model Challenger the way Cliff did, he’s got some advice on which Challenger model to start with. “If you’re in the market for building a nice Challenger, I would definitely start with an SRT8,” he says. “There is a difference between the R/Ts and the SRT8s. If the only thing stopping you is cost, the R/T is a good model to go for, too.”

But don’t worry if you can’t afford the SRT8, adds Cliff. “The modern Challenger has tons of aftermarket support. There’s lots of parts that you can put on one and make it your own.”

And make it the envy of factory-stock Challenger (and its Bowtie and Blue Oval competitors) owners, too.

Fast Facts

09 Dodge Challenger R/T

Cliff Hinkle

Destrehan, Louisiana

Mopar Power

Engine: 5.7 Gen III Hemi is stock inside, but features a Mopar cold-air kit, Fore Innovations high-flow fuel rails, BBK 85mm throttle body, Kooks 17⁄8-inch long-tube headers (with 3-inch collectors), a Corsa Xtreme cat-back exhaust, and a custom tune by Southern Hotrod pushes its output up to 357 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque.
Transmission: Stock ’09 TR6060 six-speed manual, with the stock R/T console shifter.
Rear: A 3.92-geared Getrag

Sure Grip

Suspension: Replacing the OEM hardware is Eibach’s “Sport Line” suspension system—including 2-inch drop springs front and rear, along with HD shocks and sway bars that give this Challenger a cornering-like-its-on-rails ride.
Brakes: R1 Concepts big discs and rotors replaced the stock ’09 R/T brakes
Wheels/Tires: Custom-painted Vossen CV3 wheels (22x9 inches in front, 22x10½ inches in back) wear Vredestein’s Ultra Sessantas (265/35R22 front, 295/30R22 in back)

High Impact

Paint/Body: Stock ’09 Challenger unibody wears Petty’s Garage subframe connectors along with a Speedlogix 1320 hood and PGNOLA Mopar graphics atop its OEM B5 Surf Blue, along with custom LED lighting, halo and headlights by Oracle, and Web electric sequential taillights.
Interior: Except for the Hurst short-throw shifter and Polk/Memphis Audio sound system, it’s all stock ’09 R/T