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Dodge concept cars for SEMA 2016:
Durango Shaker ("pre-SRT") and 1971 Dodge Challenger Shakedown

FCA's Mopar division has one of the largest displays at the 2016 SEMA Show, with dozens of vehicles clad in Mopar goodies, and six feature vehicles built specifically for the Las Vegas convention. Teased the week before SEMA, they are arguably the most interesting Mopar display vehicles at this show.

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by Patrick Rall

Insiders say we will soon see an SRT variant of the Dodge Durango with the 392 cubic inch Hemi, and the B5-blue Mopar Durango Shaker concept somewhat supports those rumors, with its easy-breathing grilles and other modifications.

Granted, this is a SEMA show car, and we can't look at anything from the Vegas convention and expect it to come to production, but after years of talking about a Durango with an SRT 392 Hemi, Mopar is bringing one to SEMA. Best of all, it has a Shaker hood and a collection of other components to make it one of the coolest Dodge SUVs ever.

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The functional Shaker hood is joined by a crosshair-free grille which allows for plenty of engine cooling air flow and along the bottom; the Durango Shaker has an aggressive front fascia with Hellcat airflow headlights in place of fog lights. Along the sides, this beautiful blue Durango has a side sill kit, a black Mopar fuel door and the American flag silhouette in black. Out back, the sporty rear fascia has center cutout areas for the five-inch exhaust tips, similar to the older Grand Cherokee SRT8. The cold air intake is a Mopar piece.

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The Durango Shaker has the massive Brembo brakes from the Hellcat cars, a sport tuned suspension setup that brings the body a full three inches closer to the ground, and 22 x 10.5 inch wheels wrapped in 305 series tires under unique wheel flares.

Finally, the inside of the Durango Shaker uses three rows of bucket seats from the Dodge Viper, complete with black leather trimmed in blue stitching. This six-bucket configuration would cost a fortune and it removes the center seat in the second row, but there is no denying that the cabin of this SUV looks incredible with those six race-inspired bucket seats.

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There are some features of the Durango Shaker concept that would be a tough sell on a production model - like the air catcher headlights as fog lights, the 22 inch Mopar wheels, or the six Viper seats - but much of this awesome SEMA Show vehicle could make for a great production design. The front fascia is perfect and the Shaker hood looks surprisingly natural on the big SUV, and the customized Challenger fuel filler doors could even work.

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The rear fascia with the center exhaust looks great, but locating the exhaust in the middle (part of the "customized chrome Mopar cat-back dual exhausts") would remove the ability to tow, and with the closely related Grand Cherokee being so good when hooked to a trailer, I wouldn't expect Dodge to remove that option with central exhaust.

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Mopar accessories include remote start, EVTS system, bright door sill guards, wireless charging, pedal kit, and an emergency kit.

If you look at the SRT 392 Challenger and Charger, they both have the 392 cubic inch Hemi, the brakes from the Hellcat models, unique wheels and a unique suspension setup - so some aspects of this wicked SUV could transfer to a theoretical production Durango SRT.

Dodge Challenger Shakedown

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When FCA teased their featured SEMA vehicles for this year's show, what appeared to be a 2017 Challenger Shakedown was one of the most popular topics of conversation in the Mopar community. Well, it turns out that this isn't a 2017 Challenger Shakedown but rather, a 1971 Challenger Shakedown with the headlights, grille and taillights from the 2017 models. The modern lights give this classic Challenger a unique look, but this concept car actually gets far more extreme when you look past those headlights.

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Unlike any Dodge Challenger ever, the 1971 Challenger Shakedown is a body-on-frame design with a custom tube chassis. The team went this direction so that they could introduce all sorts of trick suspension components, creating the ultimate pro touring muscle car. In addition to the high performance suspension bits with remote reservoirs for the dampers, the Shakedown features Hellcat front and rear brakes, Hellcat-style wheels measuring 19 inches up front and 20 inches out back, high performance tires, a Hellcat-style chin spoiler, Viper seats, a rear seat delete kit, and the steering wheel and basic dash design of the new Dodge Challenger.

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Finally, the 1971 Challenger Shakedown concept is powered by the modern 392 cubic inch Hemi, sending 485 horsepower to the rear wheels via a modern Tremec T6060 6-speed manual transmission - the one used in the Viper - with a Hellcat gearshift knob. A fuel cell and lines are in the trunk; the car has a custom roll bar and the rear seats were replaced by netting and a shelf for "racing essentials."

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The Mopar cold-air intake is a concept; the dual exhaust is custom but the black powder-coated exhaust tips are Mopar parts. The car also has matte black paint ("Bitchin' Black") with black/red stripes running over the car, shaved the door handles and the drip rail, they removed the back bumper, and came up with slick fender logos. Those wheels are "SRT Hellcat Slingshot-designed 19-inch by 9 1/2-inch front and 20-inch by 9 1/2-inch rear," and the hood is made with parts from Mopar's current Shaker kit. The fuel door was moved to the trunk to help with the "shaved" look.

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The Challenger Shakedown is an unusual project, adding modern headlights, seats, and taillights to a classic body shell, while ditching the unibody design for a body-on-frame setup. This is the ultimate company-made restomod and it is nothing short of amazing in person.

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Concept cars are often made so a car's feel can be evaluated, problems can be foreseen, and reactions of the public can be judged. Some concepts test specific ideas, colors, controls, or materials - either subtle or out of proportion, to hide what's being tested. Some are created to help designers think "out of the box." The Challenger, Prowler, PT Cruiser, and Viper were all tested as production-based concepts dressed up to hide the production intent.

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