The new Dodge Challenger really hit the mark in terms of retro-appearance, Hemi performance, and luxury car amenities, so it's no wonder you see more and more Challengers on the road these days. We loved the look of the '08 SRT models but decided to wait until the '09 R/Ts were available to make our purchase, setting the goal of outperforming an SRT model with our R/T. We've really enjoyed driving our Challenger over the past year or so, and it has responded well to the upgrades we've performed so far. This month we'll update you on what we've done to our Challenger, and would love to hear your feedback about what kind of late-model tech you'd like to see in the future.

After taking delivery of our '09 Challenger R/T, we were impressed by the overall performance, feel, and quality of the vehicle. Daimler/Benz had a big influence on the original LX platform cars, but we weren't sure how much of that refinement would carry over into the Challenger. Though its marginally shorter wheelbase does make ride quality slightly stiffer than Charger, Magnum, or 300 models, the Challenger is comfortable and handles well in stock form, but who wants to leave anything stock? With a mere few thousand miles on the odometer we began installing items like a K & N cold air system and Magnaflow cat-aft exhaust system that wouldn't void our warranty. And while the car responded well to these upgrades, we felt it needed additional power and a better look, so we kept modifying our car.

The biggest difference in the performance of our Challenger came when we installed Procharger's centrifugal supercharger kit on our 5.7 Hemi. This was a fantastic modification, providing an additional 100 rear-wheel horsepower while retaining the car's stock idle characteristics and drivability. Best of all, the supercharger is quiet and fits completely under the hood, so there's no external indication that our car is packing a much better punch than it did in factory form. The Procharger kit for the Challenger and other LX platform cars installs easily in a weekend, and definitely wakes up the already potent Hemi engine. To monitor boost and fuel pressure, we also installed an A-pillar gauge pod from Razor's Edge Motorsports to house our Procharger instruments. So with an extra 100 or so horsepower on tap, we decided to turn our attention to the aesthetics and handling of our late-model project car.

Externally the lines of the new Challenger are great, imitating the E-Body in overall form though the two cars are not dimensionally close whatsoever. Dodge does offer several stripe kits for the R/T model, but ours came without stripes installed. We contacted Graphic Express, who offers several stripes and accent decals for the new Challenger, and installed a '71-style R/T stripe and hood blackout on our silver car. To match the black accents, we had our rear spoiler painted in matching matte black by JD's Paint and Body shop. Eventually, we installed a shaker fiberglass hood and scoop system from Classic Design Concepts for a truly retro look. Though we like the factory stance of the Challenger, we felt the ride height was just a little high for our taste, especially given the high waistline of the car, so we decided to lower the Challenger but wanted to do it correctly.