Ranking Every Last Call Dodge Challenger And Charger Based On Their “Dodge-ness”

Last Call Dodges 7 photos
Photo: Dodge / edited by autoevolution
Dodge Charger and Challenger SwingerDodge Challenger ShakedownDodge Challenger Black GhostDodge Challenger Demon 170Dodge Charger Super BeeDodge Charger King Daytona
The Dodge Challenger and Charger have come to personify the brand that Dodge has built since 2008 when it rebooted the iconic muscle car. That brand is all about one thing, if you ask me - the Latins call it “machismo.” Dodge has mercifully, in my opinion, tried to remove notions of gender that are tied to this concept.
Originally, Machismo is the idea of being masculine, proud, and self-reliant. Basically, it’s all the traits the Spanish and Portuguese thought embodied the ideal role a man should play in society (plus or minus 400 years ago). Machismo is all about being dominant, aggressive, exhibitionist, and nurturing. You don’t have knock-off Stone-Cold Steve Austin do your ads and hire a “Chief Donut Maker” if that isn’t the image you want associated with your brand.

Given that the carmaker’s series of six “Last Call” Challengers and Chargers are sendoffs for the personification of this idea, it feels appropriate to rank all six based on how “Dodge” they are.

6. Dodge Challenger and Charger “Swinger”

Dodge Charger and Challenger Swinger
Photo: Dodge
It makes sense to have these two come dead last on the list. It’s not because of the haha-funny-sex name, though. Instead, I’m placing these at the bottom of the Dodge-ness pile because the pair draw inspiration from a model that was largely separate from the Challenger/Charger name.

The Swinger name instead dates back to hotter Dodge Dart models from circa 1969. While they’ll be very limited, with only 1,000 units made and packing 485 horsepower, they’re not a great embodiment of the Challenger/Charger, Dodge, or the brand’s macho ideals.

5. Dodge Challenger Shakedown

Dodge Challenger Shakedown
Photo: Dodge
This one’s a Dodge through and through, but frankly, it’s down towards the bottom of the list for two very good reasons. First, Dodge democratized speed for so many scores of people by pricing its two halo cars the way it did. So much so, there are memes about any kid fresh out of USMC boot camp being able to afford a lease. With only 500 of these being made, that’s the opposite of nurturing the muscle car community.

I will concede that this argument can be made for any of these and it’s definitely going to turn into a flip-fest once these cars start hitting dealer lots. That aside, the Shakedown isn’t really a callback to any particular car in Dodge’s history, which is partly what the Last Call is about. It’s just a very highly optioned Challenger in a pretty bland spec. At least it has a manual.

4. Dodge Charger Super Bee

Dodge Charger Super Bee
Photo: Dodge
Dodge gets back on track with the Charger Super Bee. The Super Bee name has been in use for nearly as long as Dodge has been making muscle cars, and this is a fitting sendoff for this nameplate - at least for now. Who’s to say Dodge doesn’t continue with the Challenger/Charger replacements?

All of these Super Bee models have standard drag radials (!), a Drag Mode drive mode, and historic purple paint. Frankly, this car places where it does on the list based on its hilarious standard drag radials along with the history tied to the Super Bee name. That, and its loud, exhibitionist nature is clearly very Dodge.

3. Dodge Charger King Daytona

Dodge Charger King Daytona
Photo: Dodge
We can set aside the machismo tie-ins for a moment with this one. A lot of the parts are there to make this, and the remaining two cars serious contenders in levels of Dodge-ness. The history factor is there, what with the William “Big Willie” Robinson tribute. Big Willie was a drag racing icon on the West Coast. When he died in 2012, his obituary said he was “a gentle giant who promoted organized drag racing as a way to unite people of all races and classes and ease racial tensions."

The King Daytona is a tribute, complete with the orange paint scheme Willie was known to use. These are essentially Hellcat Redeyes with 807 horsepower, offered with the Charger’s 8-speed auto and rear-wheel drive. In all, the car is close, but the 4-door Charger is edged out by more fitting tributes to the ideas Dodge represents.

2. Dodge Challenger Black Ghost

Dodge Challenger Black Ghost
Photo: Dodge
There is an incredibly cool story behind this car that helped it earn second place. That and its ridiculous 807-horsepower V8. As the legend goes, the Black Ghost was a Detroit cop by day and a street racer by night. He’d get off his shift, go out without telling anyone, smoke some fools up and down Woodward Avenue, and then go home. Often, the car wouldn’t be seen for months at a time. No one knew who Godfrey Qualls was for decades, earning the car and its driver the “Black Ghost” nickname. It was only decades later that Qualls and his family began to own up to the Black Ghost legend.

This car is a fitting tribute to Qualls. It features a Gator Skin-look roof, like Qualls’ original 426 Hemi Challenger with some other retro nods, like the large Dodge lettering on the nose. Personally, this is the Last Call car that does it for me, but it’s certainly not the best example of “Dodge-ness.”

1. Dodge Challenger Demon 170

Dodge Challenger Demon 170
Photo: Dodge
Frankly, after the car’s debut, there is no doubt that the 1,025-horsepower Demon 170 is a distillation of Dodge-ness. It’s loud, aggressive, domineering, and more an embodiment of the muscle car than any Dodge before it. The 170 is the concept of Dodge Machismo personified in a silver bullet that’ll do wheelies at the drag strip. Hell, the thing comes with its own whiskey decanter set, and its “skinny” drag-spec front tires are actually wider than a Charger SXT’s tires.

The 170 takes its name from the proof number in E85’s ethanol content, like some sort of V8-powered whiskey. That, by the way, is needed to make the full 945 lb-ft of torque. Basically, this is that V8-powered blender Jeremy Clarkson used to make Brick Bovril on Top Gear.

The thing is mighty impressive, and there is absolutely no question in my mind that this is the most “Dodge” car Dodge has ever made. The brand is entering an era where all that V8-powered Machismo will get eerily quiet, and I cannot think of a better way to send off this chapter of the brand’s gas-guzzling history than by putting out the most absurd car it can.
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About the author: Chase Bierenkoven
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Chase's first word was "truck," so it's no wonder he's been getting paid to write about cars for several years now. In his free time, Chase enjoys Colorado's great outdoors in a broken German sports car of some variety.
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