Driven: 2016 Dodge Challenger 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker

Driven: 2016 Dodge Challenger 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker

We talk quite a bit at our weekly Classic Car News meetings at ClassicCars.com headquarters about “future classics,” cars.

Plum Crazy is a Dodge 'heritage hue' that's back on some Challengers and Chargers for 2016| Larry Edsall photos

Plum Crazy is a Dodge ‘heritage hue’ that’s back on some Challengers and Chargers for 2016| Larry Edsall photos

We talk quite a bit at our weekly Classic Car News meetings at ClassicCars.com headquarters about “future classics,” cars you can buy and drive today that a decade or so down the road will be considered collectible. I’ve spent the last week driving just such a car, a 2016 Dodge Challenger, but not just your ordinary if slickly styled coupe but one equipped with the 392 Hemi Scat Pack set up and Shaker hood.

But not just any 392 Hemi Scat Pack setup and Shaker hooded Challenger but one of a limited run wearing a “heritage hue,” Plum Crazy.

The Shaker hood

The Shaker hood

It was in 1970 that Chrysler introduced Plum Crazy for its Detroit muscle cars. The color was brought back for the 2010 model year, and then again in 2013 and 2014, and after a model-year hiatus, now it is available again. Or it was if you had put in your order before the start of the current calendar year.

Along with shades such as Sublime, Go Mango and Top Banana, Plum Crazy is one of Dodge’s heritage colors from the original muscle car days, and it not only has remained popular with owners but figures to have appeal with collectors as well.

But it takes more than paint to make a car a future classic, and the 2016 Challenge 392 Hemi scores here as well. Sure, there’s the Challenger Hellcat with all of its supercharged horsepower, but don’t overlook this much-more affordable version when it comes to driving a car you can enjoy today with an eye on it being worth more than you paid when you take it to a classic car auction in a couple of decades.

Helmeted bee is Scat Pack insignia

Helmeted bee is Scat Pack insignia

Consider that it was back in 1968 that Dodge offered high-performance “Scat Pack” versions of its Charger, Coronet and Dart models (and before the model year ended, the high-winged Super Bee as well).

Cosmetically, the cars wore Super Bee (a bumblebee wearing a racing helmet) emblems and stripes, but what really mattered were the performance upgrades symbolized by the emblem and racing stripes — features such as big Hemi or Magnum V8 engines, heavy-duty (read: drag racing) suspension, wheels, tires, etc. Scat Pack cars were designed to traverse a quarter-mile from a standing start in 14 seconds or less.

However, in the face of increasing insurance premiums and other considerations, the Scat Pack setup was discontinued after the 1971 model year.

Fast forward a few decades and we have engines that are powerful and fuel efficient and clean as well, and thus the Scat Pack returned beginning with the 2014 model year.

Also making a comeback were the 392-cubic-inch (6.3-liter) Hemi V8 (the name heralding the original pre-liter version launched in 1957) and the famed “Shaker” style hood, another muscle car-era innovation designed to get more and cooler air into the engine by cutting a hole in the hood so the intake could poke through and suck in cool air.

In the 2016 Charger 392 Hemi, the engine pumps out 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque. And while power doesn’t peak until up near redline, you’ll be amazed at how quickly the engine is bumping up against the rev limiter.

The 392 Hemi V8

The 392 Hemi V8

Add a 6-speed Tremec gearbox, an exhaust system that hollers when you accelerate but then quiets to a mild rumble as you cruise (much like my grandson and granddaughter did when they were riding along).

Unlike old-fashioned muscle cars, the 392 Hemi also has Brembo brakes, Bilstein shocks as part of a three-mode adjustable suspension, electronic stability control, hill-start assist, and 20-inch polished aluminum wheels with Z-rated Goodyear tires.

Put it all together and you have a modern-day muscle car.

And a modern-day muscle car doesn’t merely come off the line like a lightning bolt but also turns and stops. Turn-in on this 2016 Challenge 392 Hemi is delightfully immediate, sports-car responsive in a larger, heavier package, and yet with the sort of feedback you want as a driving enthusiast.

For the $37,995 base price you also get exterior styling cues — split grille and tail-lamp array — inspired by the 1971 Challenger, plus 276-watt premium audio with 7-inch touch screen and redundant adjustment knobs, dual-zone climate controls, power driver’s seat, and more.

The Scat Pack Shaker option package is $4,800 and includes leather seating — heated and ventilated up front — heated steering wheel, power tilt/telescoping steering column, three-season performance tires, Shaker hood and graphics, performance steering and wide-view rear camera.

Also on the car I drove was the Uconnect navigation package ($695) which includes navigation and HD radio with SiriusXM traffic and travel.

Add $1,000 for the gas-guzzler tax plus the destination charges and the as-tested price was $45,485.

Leather interior, big touch screen and 6-speed manual

Leather interior, big touch screen and 6-speed manual

Though I wonder about that gas tax. The car is rated at 14 mpg in town and 23 on the highway, but I averaged better than 22 overall while driving some 1,500 miles.

A lot of those miles were at Interstate speeds, and the 2016 Challenger 392 Hemi is calm and comfortable and fuel-efficient just cruising along like that. But where it shines is off the line and on mountain byways and when it’s time to pass slower traffic. That’s when the exhaust hollers, the Shaker lives up to its name and you trade gas mileage for good ‘ole-fashioned muscle car acceleration.

2016 Dodge Challenger 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker

Vehicle type: 5-passenger coupe, rear-wheel drive
Base price: $37,995 Price as tested: $45,485
Engine: 6.4-liter V8, 485-horsepower @ 6,000 rpm, 475 pound-feet of torque @ 4,200 rpm Transmission: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 116.2 inches Overall length/width: 197.9 inches / 75.7 inches
Curb weight: 4,232 pounds
EPA mileage estimates: 14 city / 23 highway / 17 combined
Assembled in: Brampton, Ontario

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