I felt very lucky to be able to get one of these Drag Pak cars. I felt even luckier to get 2. These were a throwback to the old Superstock cars of 1968. They weren’t streetable (they didn’t even have a VIN) and were designed strictly for racers and the dragstrip. When delivered, they weren’t even drivable. The wiring harness was in a box in the trunk, there were brakes, but no brake lines, the windshield was only held in with a couple dabs of sealer, etc. In other words, this was just a good starting point to build a racer.
Here’s how it was described:
While vehicle technology has changed tremendously over the past forty years, the premise behind the Drag Race Package cars hasn’t: pack plenty of power into a car while stripping out the portly non-essentials. Given the 4140-lb curb weight of the 2008 Challenger SRT8, there was plenty of material for engineers to strip.
Starting with a stock Challenger body-in-white, Mopar’s engineers ripped out nearly 1000 lbs of equipment deemed unnecessary for the track. Although the Drag Pack cars rolled down the same Brampton, Ontario, assembly line as the street cars, these models were spared the addition of body sealer, sound deadening, a ventilation system, airbags, and rear seats. If that wasn’t enough, Mopar removed the windshield wiper assembly, side- and rear-impact beams – and subsequently, any chance the car can be DOT-certified for the street. As a result, the Drag Race Package car weighs in at approximately 1000 lbs lighter than an SRT8.
While those extra parts remain in Chrysler’s parts bins, the Challenger Drag Race Package does gain some new equipment. Included with each package car is a new composite lift-off hood (yes; the scoop is functional), polycarbonate windows, manual rack-and-pinion steering, a lightweight brake system and a good old-fashioned cable throttle linkage. Mopar also modified the Challenger’s wheelbase, shortening it a half inch to 116 inches, and pushed the engine mounts rearward for better weight distribution.
Those solid mounts held one of three available engines: a 5.7-liter or 6.1-liter HEMI V-8, or a 360 cubic-inch ‘Magnum Wedge’ V-8, coupled to either an automatic or manual transmission. A typical 360 crate motor produces anywhere between 325 and 395 hp; the 5.7- and 6.1-liter motors will crank out even more power than their street versions, which are rated at 375 hp and 425 hp, respectively.
In order to qualify the Challenger Drag Race Package car to run in NHRA’s Comp, Super Stock and Stock classes, Dodge had to build at least 100 examples for customers and racers alike.