Dodge Challenger Shakedown Special Edition

End of an era — Last Call
Special Edition Challenger

By Jim Prueter

(May 7, 2023) Even if you’re not a diehard automotive enthusiast, you’ve most likely heard that Dodge will bid adieu to the current-generation Challenger and Charger after the 2023 model year. In recognition and celebration, Dodge will do what it has always done best and that’s introduce special editions. In the case of the Challenger, it’s seven special new edition Challengers throughout the 2023 model year beginning with “Shakedown.”

With the ending of the Challenger and Charger, Dodge announced that new generations of the iconic muscle cars will go all-electric.

The Shakedown originally came to life at the 2016 SEMA show in Las Vegas as a concept car that began with a 1971 Challenger and pretty much stripped it of almost everything except the exterior sheet metal retrofitted with parts from a then-new 2017 Challenger. The body itself received no shortage of modifications fitting it with a 485-hp 6.4-liter 392-Hemi V8 connected to a six-speed manual transmission lifted from the Dodge Viper.

Dodge will build 1,000 Widebody Shakedown with 500 each in Pitch Black and Destroyer Grey paint colors.

With inspiration taken from the SEMA concept car of the same name, we recently spent a week with a new Pitch Black Shakedown that included both interior and exterior styling cues and bits starting with a Shakedown stripe  that run the entire top length of the car, with three varying widths of black stripes and a single red stripe, red “392” fender badges, red Brembo brake calipers, a unique “Shakedown” graphic on the rear spoiler and a matte black Mopar Shaker hood scoop and hood pins. 20-inch by 11-inch Warp Speed black wheels look fantastic.

Inside, the Shakedown edition is upholstered in black Nappa leather seats with microsuede accents, and a Scat Pack embroidered emblem on the upper seat back, red contrast stitching on the seats, steering wheel and instrument panel and an identifying “Shakedown: badge on the far-right side of the dash. It comes loaded with just about everything you can imagine (except a sunroof) including the excellent 8.4 Uconnect 4C system is terrific as is the 18-speaker Harmon Kardon surround sound infotainment system.

Based on the Scat Pack, the Widebody Shakedown is powered by a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 that delivers 485-hp and 475-lb-ft of torque placing it in perfect position between the 375-hp Challenger R/T and the 717-hp supercharged 6.2-liter V8 Hellcat. My tester had the 8-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted shift paddles.  The paddles work great, but depending on the drive mode settings, the transmission shifts hard and fast on its own. A six-speed manual shifter is available.

With heart pounding, I climbed behind the wheel, pressed the “engine start” button on the dash bringing the Shakedown roaring and burbling to life with the joyous mellifluous thundering of exhaust notes. It took no encouragement to realize that it’s stupid fast with the very real potential of becoming a high-speed license loser with very little effort on my part.

With the engine running, you get the option to choose from four drive mode settings – Auto, Custom, Sport and Track. Auto is the default setting, Custom you can vary the settings, and Track and Sport that among other things disables the traction control, modifies the shift points and more.

Oh, and there’s two things you must try with the Shakedown. First, you’ve got to activate the Launch Control feature that allows you to literally launch the vehicle from a dead stop by applying the brake and full throttle, setting the engine RPMs to 3300, launch the vehicle and feel the G-forces pinning you to the back of the seat. Next, try the line lock button.
It allows you to do a full throttle burnout with the front brakes locked completely down, but you'll run through those wide expensive tires quickly if you do with more tire smoke than frat party bonfire.

Overall, the Challenger Shakedown is a rocket sled of a car built for speed, modest comfort but not necessarily agility. This is a large car that blisters in a straight line but is nearly a walrus on dry land when asked to negotiate through twisty, tight turns. Acceleration is awe inspiring and wonderful, and the widebody helps to keep you grounded for traction, the steering a bit heavy at times but that comes in handy at times. But of all things, what the Shakedown does best is inducing smiles and fun every time you slip behind the wheel.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $69,085
Price as Tested: N/A
Engine/Transmission: 6.4-Liter 485-hp Hemi V-8, paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
EPA Fuel Economy: `5/24/18 – MPG City/Highway/Combined
Seating: 5

Where Built: Brampton, Ontario Canada

Competes With:
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Ford Mustang Dark Horse

Awesome acceleration/power
Great looking Shakedown Last Edition
Likely will be highly desired collector car status

Limited production, hard to get
Thirsty engine
Not the most agile