The modern-day Charger should have never been a four door. Most everyone, even those that drive them, agrees that the current generation Charger should at least have an optional 2 door sports coupe. That is what the Charger is, after all. So, Gary and Pam Beineke, brought to bear all of their knowledge and skills acquired during the years of building the '71 Wing Car Prototypes to a new purpose. What would a modern Charger look like if Chrysler brought Muscle Car Era Charger into the modern age? They began with the '71 Dodge Charger platform, being the last generation and most selling of the bunch. They pulled some Viper styling cues into the design and added a few visual elements Chrysler planned in 1971, but never brought to fruition. The performance engineering mantras of the 1970's holdup today. Torsion bar front suspension rides like it's on rails. The 426CI SIX PACK EFI Gen III HEMI makes over 600 horsepower and will give your regular commuter car a run for its fuel economy. The answer is, pretty damn well.
This is where most custom car builders go wrong. The point of modernizing a beloved design is to lose what is antiquated while bringing out more of what is essentially appealing about it. The silhouette, the proportions, the lines, the attitude, all must remain, or better- be revealed in High Definition. The 71 SRT Serpent is a 4k OLED rendering of everything we love about the coke bottle Chargers.
The side coves are the most striking. Door skins slope inward a ¾'s of an inch to create functional air extraction ducts from the front wheel wells. They make the front fenders feel stretched to cover wider wheels. The rear sweeps up, from the Chrysler desgined Strobe Stripe to a single aileron high wing, taming the turbulent air tumbling off the roof. The rear valence, steel sculpted around the quad tipped exhaust into a rear diffuser, channeling air from the underbelly of this serpent. The hideaway doors were machined to look more like louvers. You can run the lights with the doors up or down. With the doors down and the halo's on, this Charger is simply sinister. The Ram Air hood feeds a vintage SIX PACK Air Grabber air cleaner assembly. The Charger SRT-71 is an artful blend of modern and classic, crafted beauty and all-out performance engineering. The Serpent has soul.
You can tell- this is the interior of a 1971 Dodge Charger, with some well-considered differences. The dash bezels are finished in Dark Argent. It looks at home in the cabin because John Herlitz was ahead of his time, originally designing this cabin with a similar Astrotone silver in mind. The seat frames are stock, modified to give the side and bottom bolsters more body. Legendary Interiors custom stitched the covers for that bigger bolstering, “SRT-71” embroidered on the center of each. The center console offers no compromises- short throw 6-speed Pistol Grip Shifter. A comfortable arm rest so you can relax when the road gets long. The console mounted pod holds an audiophile grade AM/FM Stereo CD complete with on board Navigation. This is a cockpit is a modern vintage mix where war is made and opponents are vanquished. Fun is in the conquest.
“426 HEMI EFI SIX PACK” is emblazoned on the either side of the ram air intake. Lift the hood, and you will see what all the fuss is about. What you'll discover is the very first 3x3 fuel injection system fitted to the current generation 6.1L HEMI engine, which has been bored and stroked to 426 cubic inches. Professionally built by Indy Cylinder Head, it makes over 600 horsepower on pump gas. The overall effect of the engine bay is a deft blend of vintage and contemporary.
Now, gobs of power and good looks don't really mean much until they pay off in the driving experience. The Beineke's know how to make high-horsepower G-Series cars handle. The SRT-71 Serpent is the ultimate expression of their abilities. To get the job done, they employed Riley Motorsports Components (RMS) both front and rear. The backend benefits from their tried and true triangulated four-link suspension, Heavy Duty Sway bars fore and aft, and QA-1 double adjustable shocks on all four corners. The front suspension is where the special sauce is applied in prodigious amounts. The tubular SLA setup foregoes the typical coil-overs in favor of something uniquely Mopar and rooted in NASCAR race works. The K member conceals dual torsion bars, adjustable keyed on the front, the back anchored in the lower control arms. This system is one-of-a-kind to this car. The result is rapid indexed adjustments that allow the driver to set the car up quickly for different driving missions and road conditions as desired.
Stopping is handled by SSBC oversized four-piston power disc brakes up front and two piston calipers out back, each gripping slotted rotors. The aluminum alloy rims, patterned after the iconic Kelsey Hays "recall" originals, but in a size suited for contemporary performance cars won “Best New Product” during their SEMA debut.
This isn't a high-strung race only machine. The ZF 6 speed manual transmission, commonly found in Corvette, with double overdrive makes the car easy to drive at low speeds and gives you great gas mileage at highway cruise velocity. With a 3.91:1 Sure-grip rear, you also have plenty of low-end torque on hand for hard launch or power shifting through curves. The Serpent is as confident and capable as most any of today's sports cars.
The Charger SRT-71 Serpent is more than a personal vision brought to fruition; it has had an impact on the hobby at large. Check out the feature articles that covered it in Mopar Action, Mopar Collectors Guide, and Mopar Enthusiast. Pam and Gary's quest to bring a genuine 2 door, performance-oriented Charger into the current era of American Performance cars has been achieved. Dodge, are you listening?