A Challenger Appears: Jose's Bagged Dodge Challenger T/A
Twenty years ago, the idea that an automotive enthusiast could jump between domestic muscle and imports was unlikely at best. One could hardly fathom swapping between a Mustang to a Camaro, much less giving up a powerful high-displacement V8 for a high-strung four-cylinder. However, the stance movement did a lot to change priorities among some enthusiasts. With the focus on looks rather than outright performance, decisions shifted to being about what cars could pull off that low, wide look. The Chrysler LX platform cars, including the Dodge Charger and Magnum, and the more luxurious 300C cousin, just happened to nail that look perfectly. Just as the bigger body cars from Mercedes and Lexus started gaining steam stateside, the internet forums were full of domestic iron slammed on wide wheels. The once hard line between American and everywhere else began to disappear for these enthusiasts as more and more American cars found their way closer to the pavement.
From Domestics to Imports and Back Again
Jose Cruz-Lopez is one enthusiast that has had no problem bouncing between domestics and imports. Although his first car was a V6 Charger, he got his real start in car-modding culture with a bright yellow Honda S2000. His priorities have always included both drivability and aesthetics, so he starts with a great platform and then customizes it to look the way that he imagines it should.
As much as he loved the sporty Honda, the Challenger hadn't left his eye since he parted ways with his first Dodge. The two-door had been out of his reach upon its release, but when the planets aligned and Dodge released this T/A model, he knew that he had to make the jump back to the domestics.
The Challenger T/A is Dodge's throwback to the Trans-Am spec race cars of its history. The T/A model adds some cool touches such as the Hellcat's headlamp intakes, OEM vintage-style hoodpins, a throwback houndstooth interior, unique suspension and performance exhaust. All of that power is controlled through a decidedly cool six-speed manual transmission.
Lowered, With Awesome Wheels and Tires
Obviously, Jose's Challenger has benefited from more than just the updated stock niceties offered by Dodge. An Airlift suspension brings the big body coupe closer to the ground, framing the 20-inch BC Forged wheels perfectly.
The Nitto NT555 G2s make the car's purpose as a spirited daily-driver a reality. An OEM Dodge Demon sourced rear seat delete lightens the car, as well as offering a little more ruckus from the T/A-specific exhaust to enter the cabin.
To add to the vintage Trans-Am look, a PSD Wickerbill spoiler hearkens back to the historic road race cars that inspired the modern Challenger.
While the Challenger will never be able to match the scalpel-like precision of an S2000, the T/A model goes a long way into making the heavy Challenger a great driving car, at least for Jose's liking. When an enthusiast is able to expand their horizons beyond a certain brand, or country of origin, a much fuller automotive landscape is revealed. For Jose, the key was balance. He wanted a car that sat low, and looked good doing it, but also could still be enjoyed as an enthusiast's driving machine. The T/A may have been a surprise challenger to a former Honda guy, but ultimately, it won the heart of an open-minded owner.
For more shots of Jose's Dodge Challenger T/A, flip through the gallery below!