Some engines make lots of power. Others are very efficient.
And while LLC kept its eye on both tracts when updating the venerable 5.7L Hemi V-8 for â€™09, the auto maker understood gearheads appreciate an engine that looks good, too.
Swathed in impenetrable layers of plastic shrouding, wiring bundles and mass-airflow sensors, most modern engines barely look good enough to photograph, or arenâ€™t meant to be stared at altogether.
Sure, many high-end sports cars have their mechanical hearts displayed under glass covers like twin-turbocharged FabergÃ© eggs.
But the new Dodge Challenger, the most retrospective of the modern muscle cars, gives plebeian enthusiasts a connection to the automobile rarely seen since the days of 6-pack carburetors and pop-up hood scoops painted with shark teeth.
Case in point: The engine bays of all new Challengers sport shallow cupholders molded into the corners of their radiator shrouds, an ideal convenience for beer-laden garage tales after a victorious stoplight romp with a Mustang.
Easily mistaken for having a more-functional purpose, the subtle recesses â€“ complete with drain holes â€“ show thatunderstands most Challengers will have drool dripping down their open hoods as often as theyâ€™ll be put to the test at the local drag strip.
The â€™09 Challenger R/T we tested is a worthy recipient of extended gazes; its throwback styling and near-perfect proportions flow seamlessly into the engine compartment, where its bright-red sheet metal cradles the 376-hp Hemi V-8.
The burly SRT8 model, though not evaluated this year for a Wardâ€™s 10 Best Engines award, goes one better with even less plastic and a 425-hp, 6.1L Hemi painted orange like the Mopars of the 1960s.
In a time when attractive products are more important than ever to the salvation of the domestic auto industry, Chryslerâ€™s Hemi and new Dodge Challenger exemplify that maintaining the bonds consumers forge with a particular brand or vehicle is both wise and essential.
And thatâ€™s something all car guys can raise a glass to.
Wardâ€™s 10 Best Engines is a copyright of Penton Media Inc. Commercial references to the program and/or awards are prohibited without prior permission of Wardâ€™s Automotive Group.