Yesterday, Dodge unveiled the track-only 2021 Challenger Mopar Drag Pak. Dodge claims this iteration will annihilate the quarter-mile in a face-bending 7.5 seconds. To get your hands on one of the just 50 examples set to make production, be prepared to cough up over $143,000.
$143,000. For a Challenger. A Challenger also sold in V6 rental guise for 28 grand. This means the Drag Pak is more than five times the price of a base model. This is a massive gap, but is it the largest in automotive history?
No, and not by quite some margin. For example, let’s look at the 997 generation of the Porsche 911. In 2012, you could buy a base 911 Carrera for $79,000. Or you could step up to one of the range-topping versions: a 911 Turbo S Cabriolet, with a starting price of $172,100 — a little under twice that of the Carrera.
The 997 range didn’t stop at the Turbo S Cabriolet, though. There was another edition of that trim level, called the 911 Turbo S Edition 918 Spyder, and it started at $196,400 for the cabriolet. The Edition 918 Spyder, though, wasn’t just some cheap homage to the marvelous 918 — it was one of the 918’s options.
Like snacking on bread and olive oil while the chef prepares your main course, 918 Spyder customers could order this 911 to tide them over while awaiting their actual car. Of course, the car’s standalone MSRP was only about twice that of a base 911, but in order to buy one, you had to also spend at least the 918 Spyder’s original base price of about $850,000. This means there was a version of the 911 that cost less than eighty grand, and also a version that required over a million dollars to own. The Turbo S Edition 918 Spyder cost over thirteen times the base Carrera, which dwarf’s the Challenger’s ratio of a meager five.
Of course, whether the 918 Spyder version of the 911 actually answers this question is debatable, since most of its price comes from another vehicle entirely. The 911 GT1, meanwhile, could be purchased on its own and sold for a whopping $900,000 back in 1998. Regardless, Porsche is not the winner. That victory goes to another German marque: Mercedes-Benz.
Mercedes-Benz has the advantage here of charging significantly less for some of its models than Porsche does for a 911. Back in 1998, for example, you could buy a brand-new CLK 320 for just below $40,000. Interestingly, this is about the starting price of a new, six-cylinder E-Class coupe today, when adjusted for inflation. However, the E-Class range stops at the AMG E63S, which is ultimately a fairly rational vehicle.
In 1998, however, the CLK lineup did not stop at the contemporary equivalent of an E63. In fact, it didn’t stop at the contemporary equivalent of anything. That’s because 1998 was also the year Mercedes sold the CLK GTR. The CLK GTR was like the CLK 320, except the wheel arches were higher than the body lines. And there was a roof scoop on top large enough to serve as a parking garage. The engine was in the middle and had twelve cylinders. And the MSRP was a cool $1.4 million.
What’s more, the CLK GTR was, ultimately, a trim level of the CLK. The two were sold during the same model year, featured similar design cues, and are road-legal. And the CLK GTR cost more than the CLK 320. By a multiple of thirty-seven.
Is this truly the largest gap in the MSRP of two different trim levels? Perhaps not. The CLK 320 was the base CLK here in the United States, but not in other markets — perhaps the discrepancy elsewhere is even larger.