2023 Dodge Paint Chip Challenger and Durango Drag Pack Are Forbidden Mopar Pleasures

Within the next 48 hours, Dodge will unveil the world’s first all-electric muscle car, in functional concept form. Meanwhile, though, the Mopar people are treating us to a plethora of HEMI releases for the 2023 model year, which will mark the end of the line for the current HEMI-powered muscle cars.

Dodge seems to have devised a captivating strategy for making the transition from ICE (internal combustion engine) to EV muscle. And since we are currently in the Dodge Speed Week—it kicked off with the past weekend’s 7th Annual Roadkill Nights at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan—the company is presenting some of its freshest offerings between August 15 and August 17.

The production line that makes the Challenger and the Charger, which is part of the Brampton Assembly Plant in Canada, is set to close down by December 31st, 2023. And while the said eMuscle concept previews a production model that will reach showrooms in 2024, Dodge is sending off the present HEMI heroes with a bang, introducing a long list of novelties for the 2023MY.

The Paint Chip Challenger

The Paint Chip Challenger from the title? That’s just the most colorful tip of this Mopar iceberg. Unlike the many vehicles we’ll mention below, this isn’t a piece you can buy (you could brew your own via a wrap, though).

Instead, the big coupe was made to showcase the eye-candy, 14-shade palette offered for the 2023 Challenger and Charger. Most notably, a trio of heritage colors is returning: B5 Blue, Plum Crazy, and Sublime Green (hey, Destroyer Grey is also coming back for those who prefer a more subtle approach).

That 345 badge on the show car seen here is a nod to the 5.7L V8 and its 345 ci displacement and we’ll see that at dealerships—no changes were announced for the 375 hp and 410 lb-ft output.

As Mopar fans will tell you, this is also an ode to the Paint Chip Cuda. Probably the wackiest paint scheme to ever grace a muscle car, this was a marketing plan devised to highlight how the Cuda iteration of the 1970 Cuda stood out from the basic Barracuda (this 1,300 hp restomod is not that basic, though). Plymouth itself was limited to stunt to a brochure for the 1970 Cuda (this was the first year for the bolder Gen III Barracuda), where a set of stripes highlighted the range of colors on offer.

However, when Tim Wellborn, who would later build the Wellborn Musclecar Museum of Alabama, came across the ad, he knew he had to build such a car. So, a few years later, he gave the job to the craftsmen over at the Bomb Factory in New Orleans.

You can check out the Cuda in one of the images below—the pics come from an enthusiast named Ryan Brutt (aka theautoarchaeologist), who also captured the special edition Challengers and Chargers Dodge is preparing for 2023.

While the cars were still covered, we can see that both models will get the 6.4L N/A V8 as well as the supercharged 6.2L V8. As for the figures below the release dates found on the covers, these probably show each edition’s production number—check out the first Instagram post below.

Now, Wellborn’s Paint Chip Cuda followed the ad recipe closely, only having the color samples, the zoomies exhaust headers, and the wheelie bar on the passenger’s side. However, Dodge’s 2023 Paint Chip Challenger show car skips the extra hardware, while allowing those sweet stripes to span the entire width of the body.

Dodge’s high-horsepower novelties for 2023 and the Drag Pack Durango one-off

For starters, the Hellcat Durango, which was initially planned as a 2,000-unit special for the 2021 model year, is returning. Oh, and as part of its community link, Dodge has allowed drag racing specialist Tom Bailey to build a drag strip animal out of a prototype. We covered the topic back in June when the build kicked off and you’ll find a preview of the now-finished monster in the second Insta post below.

Having gone from seven to four seats, the Drag Pack Durango is animated by a screw-blown HEMI, with the seasoned builder promising a 7s quarter-mile animal: “A screw blown Hemi will power this family truckster into the sevens with ease – and maybe more,

Moving on, the Jailbreak customization options that were previously reserved for the Hellcat Redeye models can now be had on the “regular” Challenger and Charger Hellcat.

And, if carbon fiber is what you fancy, SpeedKore will release Dodge-approved parts of the sort for the modern Challenger, while also building a 1970 Challenger body out of the wonder material.

If SpeedKore’s name sounds familiar, it may be because the Wisconsin-based specialist handled Stellantis head designer Ralph Gilles’ 1968 Charger Hellucination build. Oh, and by the way, the Hellephant 426 7L supercharged HEMI crate engine used in that car? You can still order one via Dodge’s Direct Connection program, whose performance parts have just been refreshed.

Speaking of which, you can have a Challenger body in white for $7,995. Why would you want one? Well, perhaps you’d like to have a Dodge-backed Challenger Convertible built by Florida’s Droptop Customs. We discussed the specialist in a dedicated Challenger Convertible story, but Dodge has now given these $26,000 conversions its official stamp of approval.

Oh, and let’s not overlook the meanest one of them all, namely the Challenger Drag Pack rolling chassis pro drag racer, which you can have for $90,000 (remember, the powertrain comes separately).

Now, all those 2023 releases are fine and dandy, but it’s no secret that certain dealers can sometimes get in the way of customers properly enjoying such releases (i.e., applying unreasonable markups). As such, Dodge has decided to add transparency to the sales process. So, the full 2023 model year production will be allocated at once, with availability being published at DodgeGarage.com, so customers know which dealer(s) they can reach for their desired machines.

What ICE muscle cars will make it further into the decade?

For almost two decades now, we’ve enjoyed a new golden age of muscle cars, with Detroit’s Big Three reviving the old-school look of the 1960s and 1970s originals, aided by superchargers and modern tech. And while the OGs were forced into early retirement by the 1973 oil crisis, the current muscle monsters are preparing to adapt to the electrified reality that has taken over the industry.

And now that we’ve discussed Dodge’s plan, we’re still wondering if the carmaker will continue to challenge Ford in the ICE arena. You see, the seventh-generation 2024 Mustang, which is just around the corner (here’s a leak showcasing the design) will retain the EcoBoost turbo-four and V8 power, possibly in electrified form.

And while Dodge has quashed rumors about the survival of the Hellcat V8, it hasn’t mentioned anything about the rumors concerning a next-gen ICE muscle car that would employ Stellantis’ new 3.0L Hurricane straight-six.

Speaking of which, Chevrolet has yet to offer any clue about the survival of the Camaro. Instead, it looks like GM is focusing on turning the Corvette into a whole family. The latest rumors talk about the 2020-teased electric sedan using the ‘Vette badge rather than the Camaro one as previously believed, with this set to land by 2025, while a Corvette SUV is expected further down the line.

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