Highlights of the Dodge Challenger T/A 392 vs. Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 drag race:
- A Dodge Challenger T/A 392 recently competed with a Shelby GT500 on the South Georgia Motorsport Park drag strip
- The Challenger is slower on paper, but the GT500’s launch control has a noticeable lag
- In the end, however, the Shelby overtook Dodge’s muscle car, even with a slow start
Before being charged with electric assist, muscle cars drive with a bang — and serious speed. And while it’s arguably more of a super sports car, the Shelby GT500 is not only a top Mustang, but also a top muscle car. Or at least one of the tops, because the Dodge Challenger stands tall too, and not just in Hellcat form. But can the Challenger T/A 392 summon enough muscle to take down the Shelby GT500 on the drag strip?
The 2022 Dodge Challenger T/A 392 is old-school cool and fast
|2022 Dodge Challenger T/A 392|
|Transfer||6-speed manual transmission
|curb weight||4274 lbs (automatic, Car and driver)|
|0-60mph time||4.2 seconds (automatic, Car and driver)|
|1/4-mile time and fall rate||12.5 seconds @ 116 mph (automatic, Car and driver)|
If you look at the Dodge website now, you won’t see the Challenger T/A 392 right away. But that’s because ‘T/A 392’ is not the full name of this car. Technically, it’s the Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody with T/A Package. And there is a lot to unpack here.
First the ‘T/A’ part. In the 1970s, the SCCA briefly ran the Trans-American Racing Series, or “Trans Am” for short. This series gave us homologation icons such as the original Mustang Boss 302, Camaro Z/28 and the Challenger T/A. As in ‘Challenger Trans-Am’.
The 2022 Challenger T/A 392 – as in, 392 cubic inches or 6.4 liters – pays tribute to that original. It is not a homologated race car, but it does have a spot-black hood, roof and lid, a functional hood scoop, Mopar cold air intake and two Air Catcher intakes built into the headlights. It’s just as powerful as the regular Challenger R/T Scat Pack, but its Hemi V8 makes a really “raw roar”, Car and driver say.
Being a Scat Pack Challenger, the T/A 392 also has Brembo brakes, lowered and improved suspension, launch control and line lock. And because it’s a Widebody, it has wider wheels and tires, as well as fender flares.
It’s not that retro, but the 2022 Shelby GT500 is even faster on paper
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|2022 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500|
|Engine||5.2-litre supercharged V8|
|Transfer||Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|curb weight||4,183 pounds (base)
4081 lbs (with carbon fiber track package)
|0-60mph time||3.4 seconds (street tires, Car and driver)|
|1/4-mile time and fall rate||11.2 seconds @ 132 mph (street tires, Car and driver)|
Despite its heritage-heavy stripe package, the 2022 Shelby GT500 isn’t nearly as old-school as the Challenger. And you can’t get it with a manual. But as the table above shows, that’s on purpose.
Officially the most powerful road car Ford has ever made, the Shelby GT500 can humiliate supercars in a straight line. And that without the Carbon Fiber Track Package, which reduces curb weight and adds grippy tires wrapped around carbon fiber wheels. Well, they have more grip in the corners of a racetrack. Racing between the lights, the standard Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires are better than the optional Cup 2s, Car and driver say.
However, the Shelby GT500 is not only armed with a powerful engine. It has a carbon fiber driveshaft, Tremec limited slip differential, Brembo brakes and adaptive MagneRide magnetorheological dampers. And like the Challenger T/A 392, it has launch control and line lock.
So, like the Dodge, it’s ready for the drag strip.
Racing on a groomed drag strip is different than on a road or track
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On paper, a head-to-head showdown between the Dodge Challenger T/A 392 and Shelby GT500 should go to the Ford. But that’s on the street. Launching on a drag strip is a little different.
First, drag strips usually have primed surfaces. That means, instead of plain asphalt or concrete, the drag strip is coated with a proprietary chemical mixture. The recipe varies from strip to strip, but the goal is to increase grip and thus traction. Some mixtures are so sticky that people will stick to them.
Second, there is the line lock feature. This activates the front brakes to hold the car in place while the rear tires burn out. But the burnouts aren’t just for showing off (although that’s a bonus). They heat the rear tires so they grip the drag strip better and give you a better launch. And since both the GT500 and Challenger are rear-wheel drive muscle cars, they need all the rear-end traction.
Although Ford calls it “launch control,” the Shelby GT500’s software works a little differently than the Challenger version. While both muscle cars allow you to hold them in place with their engines running, the Dodge’s system manages the ability to minimize wheelspin. The Shelby leaves that to the driver, however. Also, Car and driver noted “a brief but palpable pause” between releasing the brakes and launching the car.
So maybe the Challenger isn’t as muscular as it appears on paper.
On a real drag strip, which is faster: the Shelby GT500 or the Dodge Challenger T/A 392?
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The actual showdown between these two muscle cars took place at South Georgia Motorsports Park. And unfortunately for the Challenger T/A 392, it couldn’t quite keep up with the Shelby GT500, Engine1 reports.
Both cars raced side by side in two consecutive ¼ mile drag races. And even with a slow start on the second run, the GT500 smoked the Challenger. The Shelby ran the ¼ mile first in 10.94 seconds and then in 10.97 seconds, while the Challenger took 12.01 and 12.06 seconds respectively. Their drop speeds were also noticeably different: 127.03 and 126.77 mph for the GT500, and 114.38 and 114.17 mph for the Challenger.
Don’t feel too bad for Dodge, though. The Challenger definitely beats the Mustang on the sales floor.
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