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Viper Assembly Plant to house FCA historic Vehicle Collection

Mar 21, 2018 - 9:38 PM - by MagnumClub
By Patrick Rall, LXForums Editorial Staff

Meet the Display Vehicles of the New Conner Center

FCA announced today that the Conner Avenue Viper Assembly Plant will now be known as the Conner Center and with the new name comes a new purpose. Since the Dodge Viper is no longer in production, the facility has been emptied of the assembly line and supporting items and when the project is completed during the second quarter of 2018, it will serve as an internal meeting facility and the new home of the FCA historic vehicle collection.

Many of these vehicles were previously displayed at the Walter P Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, but the museum was shut down and the building was repurposed back in 2016. Since then, all of the special vehicles owned by FCA (and formerly owned by the Chrysler Group) have been tucked away in storage facilities around Metro Detroit. With the new Conner Center, all of those vehicles have a new home in Detroit, with display space for 85 vehicles with more than 300 others will be stored behind closed doors until they are rotated into the display area.

It will be at least a few months until the 77,000 square foot historic vehicle display is complete, but in addition to the vehicles, this area will also have features from past auto shows. For instance, the art work below shows the display area of Conner Center with the large rings that hung from the ceiling of Cobo Hall of the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. With other display pieces, those rings will join the many legendary Mopar machines to create a sort of museum of Chrysler vehicles.

Although the display area is nothing more than a big, bare room right now, FCA rolled out some classic production models, some modern production models and many concept vehicles old and new to give the media an idea of what we will see when the Conner Center vehicle display is assembled. There were far fewer than the 85 vehicles that will eventually fill this space, but those models on hand were all that we really needed to get a small picture of the future display.

The vehicles on display date back to the 1930s with the Chrysler Airflow, with an even spread of trucks, cars and SUVs from the past 80+ years. Included in this group is the 1968 Dodge Charger R/T Hemi, the 1969 Charger Daytona, the 1998 Chrysler Chronos Concept Car, the 2016 Challenger GT AWD Concept Car, a long list of Moab-bound Jeep concepts and an array of Viper concept, production and race cars.

Below you will find a gallery of the vast majority of the vehicles on display in the Conner Center, providing a small look at what we can expect when this project is complete later this year.

For those wondering, the Conner Center vehicle display is not slated for public visits, but I believe that once the facility is complete, being used for internal meetings, it will eventually be open for tours. It might not be open to the general public, but similar to the GM Heritage Center, the Conner Center display might be open to scheduled group tours for clubs and special events.

Complete Collection of Photos

  3 Replies | 1,314 Views

Unfortunately, Probably No New 426 Hemi Coming for Street Use and Here's Why

Mar 16, 2018 - 1:01 PM - by MagnumClub
By Patrick Rall, LXForums Editorial Staff

Why There Probably ISN'T a New 426 Hemi Coming for Street Use

There is a rumor going around the internet that insists that FCA is working on a new, naturally-aspirated 426 Hemi V8. Some rumors insist that this engine will be offered in the Ram trucks, others point to the Challenger, but I don’t think that any of these reports are going to prove to be true – and it isn’t just because of emission regulations.

Let me start by saying that none of my insiders are currently aware of a project to develop a naturally aspirated, 426 cubic inch Hemi V8 for street use. Mind you, these insiders provided me with information on many vehicles including the Hellcat cars and the Demon in advance, yet they don’t have any info on a new 426 street engine. Because of that, I truly do not believe that we will see a return of the big-cube Hemi to the FCA production vehicle lineup, but insiders aside, there are a few reasons why I don’t think that we are likely to see a new 426 Hemi in the Ram 1500 or Challenger.

Comparable Engines
To get an idea of what kind of power levels we can expect from a modern 426 Hemi, let’s look at the biggest engine offered by Ma Mopar, the biggest modern Hemi and a comparable engine from General Motors. Of course, I am talking about the 8.4-liter Viper V10, the 392 SRT Hemi and the 7.0-liter LS7 engine from the C6 Chevrolet Corvette Z06.

When the Viper left production last year, it was powered by a naturally aspirated 8.4-liter (512 cubic inch) V10 that delivered 645 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque. That was the most powerful NA engine ever offered by a Chrysler Group brand while the most powerful modern Hemi is the 6.4-liter, 392 cubic inch SRT engine that produces 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque.

Of course, the rumored new 426 Hemi could feature new technology to make it more efficient than those engines, but it seems highly unlikely that the SRT team could develop a 7.0-liter, naturally aspirated Hemi to make more power than the 512-cubic inch Viper engine. Figure that with the 426 being about 9% larger than the 392, it is reasonable to expect that the company could get a similar engine volume-to-power ratio. The 392 makes about 1.24 horsepower per cubic inch, which would lead to a 426 engine with roughly 528 horsepower. Even if FCA could get the 426 engine to deliver 20% more power than the 392, it would only be making around 582 horsepower.

The C6 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 offered 505 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque from the naturally aspirated 7.0-liter LS7. FCA could most certainly cook up more power with a similarly-sized Hemi, but even if the new big-cube Hemi was 20% more powerful than the 7.0-liter LS7, it would only have about 606 horsepower.

Why Arent These Numbers Good Enough?
10 years ago, if someone told me that the SRT engine masterminds were working on a naturally aspirated 426 Hemi with 606 horsepower, I would have told you that it would be an awesome option for those looking to drive a big cube, big power Mopar muscle car. However, with the Hellcat cars delivering 707 horsepower and the Demon packing 840 horsepower, this naturally aspirated engine would fall well short of either of those two smaller supercharged V8s.

Imagine that the rumored 426 Hemi has 610 horsepower and 570 lb-ft of torque. It would not appeal to those prospective buyers looking for the most power, as the Hellcat engine offers considerably more and there are far more credible rumors that another Hellcat is on the way with more than 707 horsepower. The 426 Hemi would be designed for the buyer who is most concerned with nostalgia, wanting to drive a “modern 426 Hemi Challenger” than a Hellcat Challenger.

Now, some of you might be thinking that you would buy a 2020 Dodge Challenger SRT 426 if the price was right, but the odds are overwhelming that this engine would cost more than the Hellcat models by the time that you got out of the dealership.

Low Volume, High Cost
Many people assume that CAFÉ laws are the biggest obstacle preventing a modern naturally aspirated 426 Hemi and while they do play a small part, the 426 Hemi would be low enough volume that it wouldn’t have any real impact on Dodge’s CAFÉ scores. It would,... [Read More]
  2 Replies | 1,015 Views

How About a Jeep Trackhawk Demon?

Feb 01, 2018 - 12:55 PM - by MagnumClub
By Patrick Rall, LXForums Editorial Staff

How About a Jeep Trackhawk Demon?

The Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is an incredible machine with 840 horsepower and the ability to run mid-9s thanks to a host of high tech gadgets. In addition to all of that supercharged power, the key to the Demon’s stunning track times is the combination of the TransBrake and the Torque Reserve system. The problem for the Demon is traction, even with the factory-equipped Nitto drag radials and adding all-wheel-drive to the Challenger platform is too much of a packaging problem.

However, FCA already has a high performance AWD vehicle packing supercharged Hemi power, so we have to wonder if the Jeep Grand Cheorkee Trackhawk might not make for an incredible basis for some of the Demo technology. In fact, some of that technology is already in use with the 707-horsepower Jeep, so Trackhawk with more Demon influence could create yet another incredible Mopar performance vehicle.

What Makes the Demon Special
The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon benefits from a long list of unique features which help make it such an incredible performance car. Under the hood is a 6.2L Hemi fitted with a 2.7L supercharger and an innovative intercooler system that reroutes the cooled air from the air conditioning system to lower the compressed air entering the engine.

That power is sent through a unique 8-speed automatic transmission with an integrated TransBrake through a strengthened driveshaft, rear differential and half shafts to the Nitto drag radial tires.

The Demon also has a host of weight reduction efforts inside and out.

All of these features could easily be applied to the Charger or Challenger to create a stronger and quicker Hellcat model, but they would still suffer from the same traction issues as the Demon.

On the other hand, the AWD Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk doesn’t suffer from those same traction problems.

Imagining a Jeep Demon
Say that we took a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and added the Demon’s supercharger and cooling system, thus increasing the output from 707 to 840 horsepower. The Trackhawk already has the Torque Reserve system, but adding the Demon’s TransBrake would allow the blown SUV to come out of the hole much more quickly. Of course, it would need the stronger driveshaft, rear differential and half shafts to handle the extra power and the violence of the TransBrake launch, along with beefier AWD components, but a Jeep with 840 horsepower, a TransBrake and drag radials on all four corners would almost certainly be the quickest stock vehicle in America, if not the world.

Take that build a step further, removing weight throughout the vehicle and it seems like a Trackhawk with Demon-like performance isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Of course, we are just dreaming with this and there is no indication from FCA that a hotter Trackhawk is on the way, but the company has the parts and they have the ideal vehicle platform to make the most of those parts.

Let’s hope that Jeep sees the need for a higher performance Grand Cherokee, as one more 800+ horsepower machine would only secure Ma Mopar’s place as America’s leader in high performance.
  2 Replies | 3,006 Views


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