Dodge wants to send the Challenger and its V8 engines off in style with a still-secret final “Last Call” model that sounds like it could be the most powerful factory V8 Chrysler muscle car ever produced.
CEO Tim Kuniskis has already admitted that the model’s planned SEMA debut was scrapped because seven of the tuned supercharged Hellcat engines blew up during development when engineers tried to apply tough durability procedures to a motor that could deliver as much as 909 hp (922 PS) on E85 fuel.
We know that the seventh Final Call machine will commemorate a muscle car from the past, but which one? Dodge has already wheeled out so many of its classic muscle badges over the last 15-20 years, using the R/T name for regular performance cars, and calling others Scat Pack after the collective term used for Dodge’s muscle portfolio in the late 1960s, and Shaker in honor of a funky air cleaner that once poked through Challenger hoods.
We’ve also had a Dodge Challenger Demon, a Super Stock, 500 and T/A in recent years, all of which reference cars from muscle’s first golden age, and among the six already-announced Last Call cars are more old-school references like Swinger, Super Bee, Black Ghost and King Daytona.
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We’d say that last name’s presence on a 300-unit run of special 807 hp (818 PS) Chargers probably rules out Dodge applying the Daytona name to the Challenger, despite the 1969 Charger Daytona being Dodge’s most outrageous old muscle classic and its crazy wings and nose cone giving Dodge’s modern day designers a chance to do something wild with the styling and aero on a new one.
Dodge muscle geeks could probably wheel out a dozen vintage part names or specification codes that the company might turn to instead, including “A12”, which signified an uprated version of the 440-cu-in V8, a lift-off, scooped fiberglass hood and Dana 60 back axle with steep 4:10 gears on the 1969 1/2 Coronet Super Bee. I think that A12 name is probably too rare-groove and not evocative enough for a non-hardcore audience, but I also think that one item within that A12 package might be the answer we’re looking for.
I’m talking about the “Six-Pack” carburetor kit that consisted of three Holley two-barrel carbs and was also available on other Chrysler muscle cars, including the Super Bee’s opposite number from Plymouth, the Road Runner, the Plymouth Cuda, and of course, the Dodge Challenger on both the 5.6-liter, 340-powered 1970 T/A and the 1970-71 7.2-liter 440.
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This is purely a personal hunch, but think about it: the Six-Pack name is so well known by Chrysler muscle fans that it seems almost bizarre that it’s never been used since it was retired at the tail end of 1971. And there’s another reason why Dodge might choose to use it. The Six-Pack name has got unfinished business.
Technically, the original 440 Six-Pack was always a rung down the ladder from the 7.0-liter, 426 Hemi, despite packing more carb throats and an extra 200 cc of displacement. The six-pack 440 pushed out the same 490 lb-ft (664 Nm) as the Hemi (and at 3,200 rpm instead of 4,000 rpm), but when it came to power, it couldn’t quite crack into the fours, being rated at 390 hp (395 PS) to the Hemi’s 425 hp (431 PS), though we should always take those old power figures with an ocean’s worth of salt.
But Chrysler, and specifically its engineer Tom Hoover, known as the father of the 426 street Hemi, was apparently working on adding six-pack carburation to the Hemi to give it even more power and help it maintain its edge in NASCAR. We understand the triple-carb Hemi was originally slated to go into production in late 1971 for the 1972 year, but with NASCAR adopting a 5.0-liter limit, and emissions and insurances pressures strangling the muscle car market, Chrysler made the decision in May 1970 to kill the Hemi off altogether, and no cars were available with the 426 after 1971.
So naming the last ever Dodge performance V8 “Six-Pack” in honor of what would have been the most powerful original Hemi ever has a nice finality to it. And maybe Dodge’s design team could come up with a crazy six-pipe exhaust system to make a visual connection to the name.
Or maybe I’m completely barking up the wrong tree and it’s going to be called something else, like Viper. But you’ve got to admit, it makes a lot of sense. What classic muscle car from Dodge’s back catalog would you like to see the seventh Final Call car take inspiration from? Leave a comment and let us know.