In the face of electrification and change, Dodge continues to reflect on its muscle car heritage. The most recent example of that is the resurrected Direct Connection program, which was originally from the 1970s. In short, it’s an in-house performance parts and tuning division, one that’s within arms-reach of Dodge customers through the participating Power Brokers network of dealers.
If you ask Chad Seymour, who serves as the Dodge Direct Connection Marketing and Operations manager, the program got the green light in order to better serve the brand’s large customer base.
“We were doing just phenomenal with these muscle cars… we’re doing better than ever, and when we looked at the opportunity we saw there’s a gap here, and that we could do a better job of getting performance parts into customer hands,” explained Seymour, on why the Direct Connection program came back. “Not only that, when you look at the program itself, it’s not just performance parts. It’s this holistic approach of taking care of the customer.”
Seymour noted that the Dodge Direct Connection parts sold though its network of Power Brokers dealers are all warranty backed, giving them a distinct marketplace advantage and customer assurance.
“At the end of the day we want to make sure the folks that are out there that want to upgrade the performance of their vehicles, they can do it in a way that’s dependable, reliable, and we’ve got their back with a factory warranty when we install these parts. This gives us a huge advantage in the marketplace.”
Look For More Hemi V8 Crate Engines
Looking ahead, Seymour sees opportunity in expanding the Dodge Direct Connection crate engine portfolio, and making them more user friendly to install.
“The biggest opportunity for us (for crate engines)… is really getting the controllers and the user friendliness – call it a “turn-key” system into customer hands so that it’s a little more of a user friendly experience for our engines,” said Seymour.
The DC team is listening intently as to what their customers need to install any one of the Hemi V8 crate engines.
“We’re looking at what parts do customers need to install crate engines into these vehicles. There’s really a whole gamut of product there that obviously is required,” Seymour went on to say. “We offer some of that today (oil sump kit, accessory kits), but we want to expand that.”
Making note of the competition’s strong crate engine portfolio (Ford Performance Predator V8, Chevrolet 10.4L ZZ632 Big Block V8), we asked Chad if it was important that Dodge and Mopar offered the most powerful crate engine from any automaker on the market.
“(Chevy) has taken a direction with their (ZZ632 Big Block crate engine) program, we’re able to leverage the supercharged engines in our portfolio, and we’re gonna continue to do that going forward,” he said. “The products that we have are significantly powerful and have a lot of potential, probably even beyond what we release them from the factory with. We know customers will take advantage of that.”
Dodge Charger Tuning Programs Up Next
While the Dodge Direct Connection stage kits and tuning packages are currently just for the Challenger muscle car, the Charger will follow closely. Chad explained why the team decided to go with the Challenger first, which is less popular than the Charger based on sales.
“Challenger at the end of the day is our iconic muscle car vehicle within the fleet,” he said. “It’s a direct competitor to the pony cars, so when you think of it from a full market standpoint – motorsport to street – the focus is on the challenger because it competes in all forms in that ‘call-to-performance’ marketplace.”
Charger customers shouldn’t have to wait long for their turn.
“That doesn’t mean we’re leaving Charger behind… just as many stage kits will be offered for the Charger as the Challenger. That’s something we published a while back,” Seymour continued. “It really comes down to that the Challenger competes in all formats on performance, and that’s why the focus is on that vehicle.”
Dodge Direct Connection: Will Chevy And Ford Follow?
Seymour hinted that the entire Dodge brand could eventually be part of the Direct Connection program, citing opportunity to do so.
“(Challenger) is the first step for Direct Connection. This is the beginning of the program, but obviously there’s a huge opportunity there to take advantage across all of Dodge.”
Seymour also hopes that Chevrolet Performance and Ford Performance will follow suit, and eventually announce an in-house tuning program similar to Dodge Direct Connection.
“At the end of the day, competition is good for business… we look forward to embracing that competition and continuing to expand our portfolio and our sales.”
Dodge Direct Connection Performance Parts
Among the many parts announced are Stage I and Stage II Kits for the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye, which take the street-legal drag racer from 797 horsepower up to 840 or 885 horsepower, respectively, when in high-octane mode. There’s also a Stage I Kit for the “regular” SRT Hellcat that unleashes a respectable 757 horsepower on high-octane. None of these kits require any changes to engine internals or anything overly burdensome like that – just basics, like an OBD-II tune, a performance air filter, low-temp thermostat, and 3.17-inch “Hellephant” engine pulley.
An 885 horsepower muscle car that runs on pump gas, tuned by your dealer, backed by a warranty. This is not a dream.
“Regular” Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat owners will also have the option to swap in plenty of parts unique to the more potent SRT Hellcat Redeye. A pair of Redeye cylinder heads, for example, allows the standard Hellcat motor to rev to 6,500 rpm, up from 6,200. A Redeye High-Flow Air Box reduces restriction at the intake and lets the Hellcat motor breathe more freely. Redeye half-shaft, driveshaft, and torque converter kits all improve the robustness of the factory SRT Hellcat drivetrain, and a Redeye Differential Assembly offers a more aggressive final drive ratio than the factory 2.62:1 diff.
Even Dodge’s factory turn-key drag car, the Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak, is getting some Direct Connection performance parts love. Parts for that car include a Supercharged 354 Hemi V8 engine, approved for NHRA Factory Stock competition, and a full 7.50 Body Kit, which includes an SFI 25.5C roll cage certified for 7.5-second ETs at the drag strip.
Best of all, every Direct Connection part purchased from and installed by a certified Dodge Power Brokers dealership is covered under a 24-month/unlimited miles warranty.