An Explosive Development: Here’s Why Dodge’s “Last Call” Muscle Car Won’t Be Ready For SEMA

It’s the end of a long run for the Dodge brand’s two muscle cars, the Challenger and Charger, and the brand hoped to give them a special farewell with a series of seven limited-run “Last Call” models.

Tim Kuniskis, head of Dodge Brand, says there is a small problem with the latest “Last Call” model – they keep blowing up the engine.

It is already pulled the wraps off six of themincluding the Challenger Shakedown and Charger Super Bee, but saved what it deemed the best for last — with a debut slated for next week’s SEMA Show.

But now it turns out that mysterious offer won’t make it to the annual meeting in Las Vegas, Dodge boss Tim Kuniskis suggests “it’ll be a funny story later.”

Remind me to laugh later

During a background briefing outlining Dodge’s plans for SEMA this week, Kuniskis revealed that the plan was to come up with a final model that would put the legendary Hellcat Edition to shame.

“But we ran into some problems,” Kuniskis explained. More precisely, the modified V-8 exploded when pushed to its limits in the Dodge test lab. We’re not talking about a minor glitch. Apparently the engines really exploded.

And with a fix yet to be developed, Dodge decided it would wait a while before showing what it had heralded as the most dramatic of the Last Call special editions.

2023 Dodge Charger Super Bee plum crazy
Dodge rolled out the 2023 Dodge Charger Super Bee, the second of seven special edition “Last Call” models.

“I think we’ll get it – if we don’t blow up engines anymore,” Kuniskis said. “We think we’ve solved it, but I’m still holding my breath.”

Seven limited editions

If all goes well, he added, we could get a glimpse of the final model before the end of the year. But it won’t happen until Dodge engineers are sure the special edition can hold up through some intense testing. The automaker’s protocol requires any new engine clock to run on the dyno for tens, even hundreds, of hours before it is certified for sale.

Meanwhile, fans looking to get their hands on something special before the Challenger and Charger head into the sunset have a few other options. That includes Shakedown, Super Bee, SwingerBlack Ghost, Go Mango and King Daytona Last Call models.

2023 Dodge Charger and Challenger Swinger for REL
A pair of modern “Swingers” with a retro-themed look joined the Dodge brand’s “Last Call”.

In all, fewer than 5,000 will be built before the Challenger and Charger assembly plant in Brampton, Ontario, is shut down for a year-long makeover. (When it comes back, the plant will be converted to produce battery-electric vehicles, including an all-new Dodge muscle car based on the Daytona concept vehicle.)

“Transparent” ordering process

Dodge expects strong demand for the Last Call models, as well as the standard Challenger and Charger versions. And it takes an unusual approach designed to make it easier for the public — the Brotherhood of Muscle, Dodge prefers — to track down the model they want.

It’s set up new 2023 Dodge Horsepower Locator website, potential buyers can enter their zip code and then specify the vehicle they want. They receive a list of nearby dealers who will get that exact model, and if nothing is found, buyers can expand the search nationwide. However, unlike some systems, customers cannot place an order online. They are simply put through to a dealer.

To make the process as transparent as possible, explains Kuniski, Dodge is committing the entire 2023 model year allotment in one fell swoop. The seven special editions will be distributed to the brand’s 500 best dealers, with dealers in the top 200 getting a few extras.

2023 Dodge Horsepower locator website

“Our enthusiasts will have every opportunity to find the Dodge ‘Last Call’ model they desire,” said Kuniskis

jailbreak

There’s no way to guarantee dealers won’t demand a premium, the Dodge boss said. State franchise laws limit factory control over what retailers charge. But with the locator website, potential buyers can not only find a vehicle, but also see where to get the best deal.

During his webinar, Kuniskis added some more good news for fans of Dodge achievements. All 2023 Hellcat models come standard with the “Jailbreak” upgrade. That will push the number of ponies up to 807 horsepower. All 2023 Charger and Challenger models will receive “Last Call” commemorative plaques.

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