Working for a car magazine is cool, but since there are titles for nearly every brand of vehicle at our Florida office, discussions regarding which brand performs the best, looks the best, or has the best reliability can be heated. One thing everyone agrees to, however, is that Dodge really nailed the look of the Challenger, making the dimensionally different new Challenger look very much like the 1970 model. The second thing that everyone agrees to is that while the car looks great, it is also very heavy for its size when compared to Mopars built during the sixties and seventies.
Extra weight always has a negative effect on automotive performance, so we are often asked why the Chrysler Corporation made the new Challenger so heavy. And while the answer to that question can lead to discussion on many levels, one explanation is that Chrysler, and all other domestic car producers, are strictly regulated by the government in terms of the standards of construction for the passenger compartment, required safety equipment like air bags, and economy. Additionally, we humans are used to more creature comforts these days, and it’s hard to find a car without power seats, power windows, power steering, air conditioning, satellite radio, and the list goes on. So to be competitive in the market, the new offerings from Dodge must feature this equipment, adding even more pounds to the car’s weight.
1.0 Razor’s Edge Motorsports...
1.0 Razor’s Edge Motorsports manufactures a variety of chassis components for late-model Mopars, including the chrome-moly sub-frame connectors and transmission crossmember shown here. These are top quality parts, and will benefit your car in several ways.
1.5 Razor’s Edge Motorsports...
1.5 Razor’s Edge Motorsports manufactures a variety of chassis components for late-model Mopars, including the chrome-moly sub-frame connectors and transmission crossmember shown here. These are top quality parts, and will benefit your car in several ways.
2. The replacement transmission...
2. The replacement transmission crossmember is easy to swap while supporting the transmission with a jack, and is far less bulky than the stock unit. It’s also half the weight.
An unfortunate byproduct of this extra weight, and the reasons it’s there, is that manufacturers like Dodge are forced to cut corners during manufacturing in order to keep the total weight of the vehicle at a reasonable level. The new Challenger is a unit-body constructed vehicle, similar to older Mopars, meaning the car’s frame rails, floors, roof, and body panels all work together to form the vehicle’s structure. Engineers work very hard to decide how much and what type of metal to use in key areas, and other areas are made much thinner to save weight. And while the result is a car that’s mechanically sound and will last a long time if only used to drive normally, the chassis has too much flex for our taste when it comes to driving aggressively.
3. The Challenger has plastic...
3. The Challenger has plastic covers over the rear frame rails which must be removed to install the frame connectors.
Knowing that chassis flex robs performance, Razor’s Edge Motorsports actually tested chassis flex in a late-model Challenger, and reported to us that when cornering, accelerating, or braking aggressively, the car flexes more than we’d like to admit. Adding thicker sway bars like we have to our car only makes the problem worse, transferring more load to the car itself. To correct this issue, Razor’s Edge has developed a line of high-quality components designed to stiffen the chassis of the new LX Mopars, including the Dodge Challenger. In previous issues of Mopar Muscle we’ve shown you the Razor’s Edge front and rear strut tower braces being installed in a late-model Dodge Charger, and this month we’ll install a set of Razor’s Edge sub-frame connectors and transmission crossmember in our ’09 Challenger project vehicle.
By now, you’re likely thinking, With all this talk about weight, aren’t you adding weight to the car? And while the answer to that question is undoubtedly yes, the key is that the frame connectors add minimal weight in specific areas that will greatly stiffen the car’s chassis, and the transmission crossmember is actually half the weight of the factory unit, offsetting at least a portion of the frame connector weight. Both the frame connectors and the transmission crossmember are manufactured from lightweight chrome-moly tubing, and protected with a thick black powder-coat on the surface.
Frame connectors and the tubular transmission crossmember are just a couple of the items offered by Razor’s Edge Motorsports that will improve handling, braking, and even acceleration, including products to lighten LX Mopars like the Challenger. We feel that the improved performance as well as the added safety of having a chrome-moly tube protecting and stiffening the rocker area of the car, are a necessary improvement for a performance vehicle with the Challenger’s potential.
So, if you have a welder or a friend who can weld, the frame connectors are an easy installation and aren’t at all noticeable when looking at the car. In addition to being stronger and lighter than the factory crossmember, the Razor’s Edge tubular crossmember offers a lot more room to work around the transmission and is easy to install by removing four bolts while supporting the transmission with a jack. And the best news is that these parts are economically priced and can be installed in a day. mm
|Razor’s Edge frame connectors ||$289.95|
|Razor’s Edge transmission crossmember ||$169.95|
|Welding wire and gas||$4.26|
6. You don’t need to weld...
6. You don’t need to weld the entire perimeter, but by welding as much as possible you’ll get the most benefit from this upgrade.
7. After our welds cooled...
7. After our welds cooled off a little, we painted the welded areas with black spray paint as a corrosion preventative. We were impressed with the fit and finish of these frame connectors, and their placement doesn’t interfere with any of the vehicles systems.
8. The Razor’s Edge frame...
8. The Razor’s Edge frame connectors aren’t noticeable at all from a standing position. This is a nice upgrade for your car, and will help the overall performance by adding stiffness to the chassis, which in turn keeps all four tires better planted on the road.