Redesigned 2015 Dodge Charger
Dodge has resculpted much of the Dodge Charger for 2015, including the hood, fenders, front and rear fascia, front doors, spoiler, and wheels. On the inside, a new 7-inch TFT gauge cluster, instrument panel center stack, and three-spoke steering wheel with paddle shifters gets the nod. Those paddles are sweet because they connect to a new ZF 8HP70 eight-speed automatic transmission when equipped with the 5.7L, 375hp Hemi. (Unlike the '15 Challenger, the Charger will not be getting the 6.4L 475hp Hemi, at least in the main Dodge lineup.) Enthusiasts will like Dodge's new version of Performance Pages, which is included with the R/T Road & Track version. Performance Pages bring a new dimension to on-track instrumentation with a bevy of all-new tools to measure the Charger's capability.
Technology is the predominant theme with the '15 Charger, and lots of safety and connectivity features make their debut, or are enhanced. Chargers now come with lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, full-speed forward collision warning, rear camera dynamic path grid lines for backing up, and available 8.4-inch Uconnect access service. The latter enables full connectivity to the Internet with hot spot wifi access, voice command, email, text messaging, access to most popular Internet radio streams, Yelp, gas finder, SiriusXM, Performance Pages, and mobile device anti-theft notification and control.
Unlike the interior, our thoughts on the exterior run lukewarm. Dodge has always had a rocky relationship with the lines on its late-model Chargers, disowning traditional roots and classic styling, and embracing upright, boxy proportions dictated by Gen X and millennial focus groups. Designers have used every trick in the book to cheat the Charger's tall, long, narrow box into a more aggressive shape, and they have mostly failed. Every car guy on the planet knows what a Charger is supposed to look like, except Dodge. (Look no further than the 1999 concept car for proof that a four-door Charger can look right.) In our mind, the '05 Magnum was the better design, one that didn't carry the overwhelming style and performance expectations that the heritage "Charger" label carries.
With a great powertrain, a new eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters, a significantly improved interior, scads of fresh technology, but a face made for radio, we give the '15 Charger a grade of C+. —Johnny Hunkins
2015 Mustang Assembled On Empire State Building
To be perfectly clear, this was no straightforward task. Cranes and helicopters weren't feasible, and the Empire State Building has no freight elevator that runs to the top; only a few tiny ones with a 36-inch-wide opening and a 56-inch depth. Back in the day, getting a '65 Mustang to the roof was tricky enough, but the new Mustang is 7 inches longer and four inches wider, and contains more pieces. That created some sincere challenges for the team at Detroit Steel Tube assigned to the challenge, so they recreated an exact mockup of an elevator to check their work as they sliced the car (an engineering mule) into 100-plus pieces.
Eighty-six floors is a long ride and the Mustang team had just seven hours to get the jigsaw puzzle to the observation deck and fully assembled before the deck was reopened to the public for the car's unveiling. Did we mention it was snowing with 60 mph gusts, and a 31-degree wind chill? Despite the odds against it, the preplanning paid off and a fully assembled '15 Mustang GT convertible (sans drivetrain) was ready for presentation by Bill Ford and a small entourage of executives from Ford, and the suits who own the Empire State Building.
The Mustang's stay was brief, and remained atop the Empire State Building April 16 and 17, 2014, to mark the 50th anniversary of debuting at the 1964 New York World's Fair. —Christopher Campbell
Quick Review: Miller Syncrowave 210
We recently got the chance to try out Miller Electric's new Syncrowave 210 TIG welder at the Popular Hot Rodding Tech Center, and this fresh unit has got to be the easiest TIG welder we've ever used. We're no experts, but even our novice efforts turned out pretty good, and it's all because the Syncrowave is so easy to use—even for beginners. For starters, you can use the 210 on either 115- or 230-volt power—just select the multi-voltage plug you need and the 210 adjusts accordingly. Power setting is made easy too; all you do is select the process (AC TIG, DC TIG, or DC stick), and set the amperage based on the material thickness. The amperage setting represents the maximum power achieved when the foot pedal is at full travel, so you can set it low to ease into it, or crank it up to focus the heat fast and hard! Miller's new inverter technology makes the 210 a whole lot lighter while lowering the power draw and enabling a wide range of squarewave settings for adjustable oxide cleaning. One special feature we were digging was the adjustable pulse (0-50 hertz), which varies the amperage to your own rhythm and allows you to lay down that perfect row of dimes. Check it out at www.MillerWelds.com
. —Johnny Hunkins
Limited-Edition '15 Mustang
Ford is celebrating the Mustang's golden anniversary with the release of a limited run of GT's decked out with exclusive trim, paint, and interior packages. All 50th Anniversary cars will be built with Ford Racing's Performance Pack which includes Brembo brakes behind 19-inch split-spoke alloy wheels and wrapped with Pirelli P-Zero summer tires. Power will be bumped up on the 5.0 Coyote engine thanks to bigger intake and exhaust valves, a higher-lift cam, Boss 302 valvesprings and connecting rods, and an oil cooler.
Available only in Wimbledon White or Kona Blue, the exterior will include unique touches like chrome-surround taillights (similar to those on the 1962 Mustang II concept car), louvered rear quarter windows, and a running pony emblem in the grille. The rear fascia will also feature a nonfunctioning fuel cap badge with the script, “50 Years.”
The anniversary edition interior gets upgraded materials and special badging, including cashmere and black leather upholstery with a Mustang “50 Year” logo on the seat backs. Cashmere stitching will also carry over to the instrument panel, shifter boot, center armrest, door inserts, and steering wheel. Even the floor mats are special and get retro nylon-loop with cashmere stitching and suede binding.
When 2015 Mustang production begins later this year, the 50th anniversary Mustangs will be among the first cars built. How many will they build? 1,964, of course! —Christopher Campbell