With a curb weight of just over 4,000 pounds for the '09 Dodge Challenger R/T, stout, portly, and robust, are just a few of the adjectives that can be used to describe the vehicle. And while the Chrysler Corporation has done an outstanding job of making the new Dodge Challenger feel more nimble than its mass would seem to allow, the simple fact is that the car's performance is limited by its power to weight ratio. Since this ratio can only be changed by adding or subtracting from each of the variables (power and weight), the only options to improve power to weight ratio are to increase power, or decrease weight.
1 We've already added power to our Challenger with the help of a ProCharger Supercharger,
2 Because the Challenger's factory hood is constructed from aluminum, there's no real wei
3 Aftermarket brakes definitely help our car's stopping distance, but again, their larger
We all know that power and weight are not the only two factors that contribute to a car's acceleration, handling, braking, and top speed performance, but they are at the top of the list when it comes to improving performance. While there are many aftermarket parts available for the new Hemi engine that will certainly improve power, shedding weight from the car is often a less expensive way to gain performance. We've already improved the power of our '09 Dodge Challenger R/T by installing a ProCharger intercooled supercharger system, as well as installing new high-flowing exhaust from the catalytic converters back. And while installing a stroker kit in our 5.7 Hemi or bolting in a crate engine would help our car in the power department, we wanted to experiment with lightening the car to see what kind of performance improvements we could gain. Fortunately, Razor's Edge Motorsports has products for the new Challenger designed not only to improve our car's cornering, braking, and acceleration, but also parts that are specifically engineered to reduce the weight of the new Dodge.
As a car becomes quicker and faster, sanctioning bodies like the NHRA require certain items, like a rollbar or rollcage, that add significant weight to a vehicle. Many times, adding lightweight items to a car won't necessarily reduce the weight of the car, but simply bring it closer to the weight it was before a rollbar or rollcage was added. In the case of our '09 Challenger R/T, installing a rollbar, subframe connectors, supercharger system, and even larger brakes has added to our car's weight, so by installing items designed to reduce weight, we can only hope to bring the mass of the vehicle back down closer to its original curb weight. Installing these same parts on an unmodified Challenger (or other LX platform Chrysler product), will certainly reduce the car's weight to less than the manufacturer's claimed 4,041 pounds.
4 When it comes to lightening the car, incremental gains are the key. This transmission c
5 The factory bumper support of the Challenger is made from steel, and is bulky. Swapping
Remember, though, this item replaces the factory steel support and will not withstand an a
Shedding weight from a new LX Mopar is not as easy as it seems. We've added a fiberglass hood to our car, but the original hood is already made from lightweight aluminum, so we didn't lose any weight. The body panels of the new Challenger are also much thinner than the ones on the original Challenger, so using fiberglass there isn't a great option either. And as for one of our favorite ways to shed weight, installing aluminum cylinder heads, the new 5.7 Hemi is already equipped with aluminum so that isn't an option either.
6 You can simply yank the rear seat out of the car, but that leaves an ugly interior. The
To put our Challenger on a diet, we went to the website of Razor's Edge Motorsports to see what they had for our car. Dedicated to enhancing the performance of the late-model Mopar offerings, Razor's Edge has a full line of chassis, engine, exhaust, and even dress-up parts for the new Challenger and other LX cars, and has several items designed specifically to save weight. Several of their items, like the transmission crossmember and K-frame, serve multiple purposes as they add rigidity and free up space in addition to being lighter than the factory components. Among the items we ordered were the rear seat delete kit, transmission crossmember, and aluminum front bumper support.
7 Another great way to save weight and increase power to the wheels is by installing an a
This month we'll install the rear seat delete kit, transmission crossmember, and bumper support, which are all easy to install and lighter than the factory components they replace. Also, be sure to pick up the fall issue of Mopar Now, our special edition magazine dedicated to late-model Mopars, on newsstands, where we will install the Razor's Edge K-member for even more dramatic results and dragstrip testing