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Woodward Dream Cruise wrap up

Old 08-23-2010, 05:59 PM
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Default Woodward Dream Cruise wrap up

WOODWARD DREAM CRUISE WRAP UP

The really great weather came a day too late. But the hot, humid week before, and the rainy day for the Woodward Dream Cruise did not dampen the spirits of the 20 or so Forum members who came out for Detroit’s Woodward Dream Cruise. Considered the world’s largest one day automotive event, spanning an 18 mile stretch of America’s first paved roadway, Woodward Dream Cruise celebrates America’s love affair with the automobile. An estimated 1.5 million attendees, come out to see over 40,000 automobiles. On the internet forums, local Detroit area residents, Bill Pitt and Steve Legel coordinated a wonderful venue for veteran and newbie Dream Cruisers. Nearly 30 new Challenger owners signed up to meet near the epicenter of 13 Mile Road and Woodward, the midpoint of the cruise route.

On Friday night, the night before the official Cruise, attendees were treated to a visit from Scott Vandekerckhove and David Cottrell. Scott is a marketing vendor for Chrysler and works with enthusiast groups. David is the Chief Engineer for project Challenger. In an informal setting David shared stories from his history of working at Chrysler and insights on Challenger project development off the L platform shared with Magnum, Charger and 300. He explained how government regulation and EPA standards interplay with product, and shared how different engineering and design teams must collaborate and exchange to bring product to market. He showed the interplay of drive train and braking and wheels, the interplay of interior and safety, the fit of body and quality control. Members gained perspective on the Daimler involvement and the new opportunities afforded by the marriage with Fiat.

Going car to car among member cars, David showed us where engineering upgrades have occurred among the various year Challengers we had on hand. For example, the problems with the cracks in rocker panels were resolved by including an extra reinforcing strut in a newly produced piece, and that the parts supply was purged of the old pieces susceptible to cracks. Any new repairs will be made with the improved design. He showed us the newly formed taillight plastic extensions that lay under the trunk lid at the bottom of the drip gutter. The original design, like on my 08, tended to trap debris and the water run off was carried under the taillight and not out the drip rail as intended. Newly designed and placed on 2010 units have a different contour and an integral, rubber seal. David accepted the teasing about nit picking show judges 20 years from now. Some even suggested stocking up on original cracked rocker panels and early design taillights! David answered questions from us, including troubles with snow and freezing on the auto up side windows. He showed us on our cars, the redesigned cat whisker seal that holds less water and deflects it better. Arguably, winter freeze is a problem for cars left out in winter weather. Never the less, the auto drop window provides a secure and wind noise resistant seal compare to glass against rubber.

David handled questions on aftermarket horsepower increase vendors and supply. He noted that if Chrysler provides “performance enhancement” parts, that impacts federal regulation and insurance underwriting. But if you do it in your backyard, or use aftermarket service, the rules are different. He pointed to the exclusivity of Challenger, and its factory volume production capacity limitation, ( 46,000 unit capacity) that leaves the aftermarket to look closely at supply and demand to reflect development costs and pricing. When asked, “can you“…David replied, no problem to make more horsepower, no problem to get it to the wheels, the challenges are not in technology but market cost and regulation. Grilled about the Viper 10 Challenger he explained that it’s not all about more horsepower, but that engineering the whole package is a bigger puzzle, as each component has impact on the others, like transmissions, axles, brakes, wheels, and tires.

Lastly, David was not permitted to elaborate on any future product plans, development or manufacturing. We left with a better understanding of the inner workings, and grins from ear to ear. In his role, David also drives the competitor’s Mustang and Camaro, and feels the Challenger is superior in all regards, despite the bias in magazine reports. His wife, Mary, was along and she echoed that observation.

David and Scott were most patient and cordial in an over 2 hour, hands on visit.

BUT WAIT!! THERE’S MORE!!

The location that Bill Pitt secured was only a short walk to the Dodge exhibit. Nearly 50 vintage Dodge muscle cars (and an assortment of new Fiat 500’s) were on display. Challenger fans could participate in a vote for your favorite color Challenger and enter to win a Justin Allgair #12 Challenger (not a NASCAR car, but graphics package car). Among Challengers on display were the green Targa, the NASCAR pace car, the Allgair car, and Furious Fuchsia, Detonator Yellow , Plum Crazy Challengers. Not to forget a Mopar 10 Challenger with blue side stripe.

We enjoyed our visits with members from as far away as Canada and Wyoming and Nebraska. Bill, and his wife Trish, pulled extra duty for set up. I think Bill covered the lion’s share of our sponsorship to take the Church’s parking area, and we were all appreciative of their work. I handled the internet communication. Many hands make light work! Bill and I will certainly work for a redo next year, and you should consider coming to Detroit for Woodward Dream Cruise 2011
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Old 08-23-2010, 06:00 PM
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Also check out the write up for our group on Red Letter Dodge website.
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