Hey, Where’s The ACR Challengers Dodge Was Making?

Rumors were flying not too long ago about Dodge making ACR Challengers before the end of 2020. What’s an ACR? It stands for American Cup Racer and the moniker has been applied to the Viper and Neon sedan in the past. That’s it. An ACR version of any Dodge makes it a track-capable performance car. Until now we’ve heard crickets from Dodge. Hey Dodge, Where’s the ACR Challengers you were going to be making?

With the Viper no longer being made the ACR has been dormant for three years. Among the many accomplishments for ACR Vipers includes friend Kevin Wesley’s 2nd place finish in the Time Attack at Pikes Peak. In 2016 he was headed for a record-breaking time when the Viper began overheating for about the last quarter of the run. Still, a 10.39 run from an almost box-stock Viper gives you everything you need to know about Dodge’s ACR capabilities.

The ACR Challenger would gain aero, better tires and brakes, reworked suspension, and lose 500-pounds

Wesley Performance Challenger on the track | WP
Wesley Performance Challenger | WP

The plan as we heard it was for the ACR Challenger to gain more aero, better tires and brakes, reworked suspension, and to lose some 500-pounds. At 4,400-pounds the Challenger is no feather. How Dodge planned to remove that much weight was going to be an interesting exercise.

The reasoning or marketing strategy around an ACR Challenger was to take on both the Mustang Shelby GT500 and Camaro ZL1. Challenger’s quarter-mile capabilities are well known. With the ACR it was hoped it would steal some limelight from its two adversaries and grab a few headlines.

“Our cars are not going to be track cars”

Wesley Performance Challenger with yellow and blue livery
Wesley Performance Challenger | WP

Alas, none of this is happening. “Our cars are not going to be track cars, it’s just physics,” said FCA head of passenger cars Tim Kuniskis to Muscle Car & Truck. “They’re bigger, they’re heavier… when reports came out saying we’re going to build an ACR Challenger I’m like ‘we’re not going to do that.’” OK, then.

“(Around a road course) I can’t beat the GT500, I can’t beat the GT350R. I’d have to have a wing the size of a house, I’d have to have no seats… we can’t go into that space,” said Kuniskis. With some off the shelf parts and past ACR knowledge, the ACR Challenger would have the right stuff. The problem has always been its heft.

So instead of eyeing road courses or arenas like Pikes Peak, it has doubled down on straight-line dominance. For the Challenger fans, there is the Challenger Super Stock, Challenger Hellcat Redeye, and Challenger 1320-Edition. There is also the 2021 Charger Hellcat Redeye for the Charger fans.

The 1320-Edition is the fastest naturally aspirated V8 production car available

Kevin Wesley ACR-like Challenger | WP
Welsey Performance Challenger | WP

Why the Powerful and Popular Dodge Viper Disappeared

Of those, the 1320-Edition is the fastest naturally aspirated V8 production car available. To refresh your memory these feature a trans brake, heavy-duty splined half shafts, a line lock, Nexen drag-spec tires, and no passenger seats. However, you can add the seats to your order for a buck. 

Doubling down on straight-line performance instead of road course racing was an easy decision for Kuniskis. According to Dodge market data, he says Challenger customers identify more with drag racing by a ratio of 7:1. It had hoped it would because without a major diet flinging around over 4,000-pounds on a track can wear things out in a hurry.