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HCOTY 2014 Nominee: 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T Blacktop

HCOTY-Challenger

[Editor’s Note: Yes, we suck at this. Two new cars this year… we apologize and it won’t happen again. Antti at least has a good reason for this one.]

Having thought long and hard about the car I would be nominating as my personal Hooniversal Car of the Year candidate, I have no other option than to go way back to the last days of May and the first days of June, when I finally set foot on American soil and American tarmac and received the keys to a 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T Blacktop, reviewed here.

Granted, it’s not a Hellcat by a long stretch, and the at least 707-horsepower super-Challenger has deservedly become the beacon of insanely powerful Challengers since its unveiling, but for myself the old R/T stands for so much more.

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The Granite Crystal grey Dodge with a Tremec six-speed manual gearshift was the first car I drove on my two-week trip to California. It embodied the nearly 30-year wait to finally be able to travel to the States, to experience the land that birthed the automotive culture I continue to follow; it provided the soundtrack to a dream drive up the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to San Francisco.

Up until my Challenger experience, everything I had contributed to Hooniverse had been based on a decidedly European viewpoint of things. With the 375-horsepower 5.7-litre lump burbling ahead of me, promising to take me as far as there was empty road and cheap fuel available, I had nothing to complain about.

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I do not know when I will return to the States next, where I will be driving, or what will be my wheels of choice. But the 2014 Challenger R/T set the bar pretty damn high. Penning this in Eindhoven, Netherlands, on a Macbook Pro with a slowly dying keyboard, I can’t help but reminisce of warmer times, warblier times, driving into the Californian sunset with my then-girlfriend sleeping in the passenger seat. It was a high water mark in my automotive life, and it makes the Dodge my Hooniversal Car of the Year for 2014.

[Images: Copyright 2014 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen]

  • craigsu

    I hadn't realized until now just how much the grille pattern reminds me of tire tread blocks.

  • ptschett

    It might have been assembled in Canada, using an engine and transmission that were made in Mexico, and underpinned with a suspension that uses some ideas that originated in the Bundesrepublik Deutschland… but it's still a great expression of what a real American muscle car is.