Dodge unveils two special-edition cars for Dream Cruise

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Berkley — Two classic Dodge muscle cars returned to Woodward on Tuesday as new special-edition models ahead of the 2016 Dream Cruise.

Dodge used the famed M-1 motorway to unveil the 2017 Challenger T/A and 2017 Charger Daytona models. Both pay homage to the race-bred nameplates from the 1970s and include features of Dodge’s popular Hellcat models but not the 707-horsepower supercharged engine that powers them.

“These two cars really celebrate what was race cars back in the day for us,” said Dodge boss Tim Kuniskis on Tuesday at Vinsetta Garage along the famed roadway. “What these cars are not: They are not autonomous. They are not hybrids. They do not get 50 miles per gallon. And you cannot summon them with your smart phone.

“But what they can do is maybe remind you of why you fell in love with driving in the first place.”

Both new models are available with the 6.4-liter “392” Hemi V-8 naturally aspirated 485-horsepower engine, or the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with up to 375 horsepower with an all-new electronically controlled active performance exhaust system.

The cars will be in dealerships starting for under $40,000 in the fourth quarter, Kuniskis said.

Ordering for the Charger Daytona will start in September at about $39,900 for the 5.7-liter model and about $45,000 for the 6.4-liter Charger Daytona 392.

Dodge originally introduced the Charger Daytona in 1969 as a 501-unit, purpose-built production run for NASCAR. Limited-edition models also were offered for the 2006–09 and 2013 model years.

The new Daytona package is the first time Dodge will offer the look of the Charger SRT models, including the large open grille, on cars equipped with a 5.7-liter engine.

The Challenger T/A will start at $37,390. Ordering will begin in October. A Challenger T/A Plus and Challenger T/A 392 will be available starting at $40,140 and about $44,000, respectively.

The Challenger T/A was initially built for the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) Trans Am racing series in 1970 with only 2,399 ever built.

All prices exclude a $1,095 destination charge and gas-guzzler charge on some models.

Dodge in recent years has made a push to leave other brands in the dust when it comes to the Woodward Dream Cruise. In 2014, the brand unveiled the 2015 Charger SRT Hellcat and last year sponsored the inaugural Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge that attracted more than 10,000 people on the eve of the Dream Cruise.

This year, aside from the two special edition models, the brand and TEN: The Enthusiast Network have expanded the muscle car event and will shut down a section of Woodward in front of the newly developed M1 Concourse in Pontiac on Friday for amateur flashlight drag racing.

“I don’t know if this is ever going to happen again,” Kuniskis said. “Quite honestly, it’s amazing that they let us shut down Woodward during Dream Cruise to street race.” Don’t think, ‘Hey, I’m going to go next year.’ This is it. This is the one chance to get up there and be part of history.”

Thrill rides with professional drivers in Dodge Viper SRT and Dodge Charger and Challenger SRT Hellcat models will take place inside the M1 Concourse, a motorsports facility with car condos and a 11/2-mile road course. Other attractions include a Show ’n’ Shine area, live music, fireworks, food trucks and stunts/exhibitions from YouTube auto show “Roadkill.”

Kuniskis said he doesn’t know how many people will attend this year’s event, however, others involved in the event have said they expect 20,000-30,000 people.

One of the main draws for last year’s event included the public being allowed to competitively drag race on a custom-built 1/8-mile strip, followed by a drag-racing competition that awarded the owner of the fastest Dodge vehicle a 707-horsepower Hellcat engine with transmission and wiring harness.

Cash prizes totaling $19,000 will be awarded for the fastest Dodge cars this year, including $10,000 for first place. The fastest non-Dodge cars will split a total of $1,900.

Sterling Heights resident Brandon Phillips won the engine last year with his 1969 Dodge Challenger Super Bee 446 Pack.

General admission to Roadkill Nights — open from noon through at least 10 p.m. — is free for spectators. It is one of several events being put on this week by Fiat Chrysler and other automakers for the Woodward Dream Cruise.

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Twitter: @MikeWayland