If you’ll harken back to your middle school science class with me for a second, you’ll remember that in order to make fire, you need three ingredients: fuel, ignition and air – or, more specifically, oxygen. You’ll also remember that cold air is denser than hot air, putting more oxygen in the same amount of volume. While the modern internal combustion engine does a fine job of delivering fuel and ignition, that cold air part becomes tricky as you try to route fresh air from outside through a hot engine compartment.
And thus, a multitude of solutions to this problem surfaced. NACA ducts, ram air intakes and cowled hoods all came to market, but none managed to get air into the engine in the shortest path as effectively as the hood scoop. In seemingly no time, every hood had nostrils protruding from the bodywork, right over the air cleaner, providing what seemed like the shortest path into the carburetor. That is until an intrepid engineer decided to forgo the extra space between the hood and the cleaner, and instead bolt the scoop directly to the carburetor and cut a massive hole in the middle of the hood from which the scoop could protrude.
It may have once been called the “Incredible Quivering Exposed Cold Air Grabber” – a name that would have a hard time sticking in everyday conversation – but thankfully the Shaker hood, as it’s now called, has earned itself some well-deserved staying power in automotive history. Since its Mopar® debut on the 1970 Plymouth Barracuda and Dodge Challenger, the Shaker hood has been synonymous with HEMI® engine power, along with the bucking and vibrating the scoop did when paired with the popular lopey cams of the time. The Shaker hood scoop made a bold statement on the streets of America.
Unfortunately, as with many things from the heyday of muscle cars, fuel costs and government regulations saw the end of the Shaker hood.
But now we find ourselves in the middle of a new muscle car era, one where 707 horsepower from the factory no longer commands a small fortune, and is, in fact, even well south of six figures. For Dodge, this new revival started in 2005 when the Charger was resurrected, bringing back the rear-drive, HEMI engine-powered layout to the fold. Ever since the iconic nameplate was resurrected, alongside its equally well-known stablemate the Challenger a few years later, Dodge fanatics were chomping at the bit for retro performance parts to come out to match the cars’ retro looks.
In 2008, Dodge teased what the future may bring by debuting its Dodge Challenger SRT10 concept at the SEMA auto show. While what was going on under the hood was the big news with the V10 from a Viper shoehorned in between the fenders, die-hards couldn’t help but notice what was coming out from the hole cut in the middle of the hood — a Shaker scoop. The concept whipped up a fervor on internet forums, with those who have been clamoring for the Shaker since its disappearance in the ’70s seeing the potential of a modern take on the classic piece.
Six years later, Dodge made a splash once more at the SEMA show by introducing the 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker package, and promised to put it into production. That year, Dodge also unveiled the SRT® Hellcat at the SEMA show, a car which can arguably be seen as the spiritual successor to the previous Shaker hood-touting SRT10 concept. Muscle car and Shaker hood fans the world over rejoiced, finally having a factory-installed Shaker hood bucking and twisting out of its sheet metal cage, perched atop the venerable Dodge 5.7L HEMI engine once again. Even those who couldn’t wait for the 2014 model could join in on the fun, with Mopar® offering an after-sale Shaker hood kit to fit any 2011-2014 Challenger with the 5.7L engine under their hole-less hood.
The package proved so popular, that once orders were opened up, all 2, 000 examples were sold out in four days. The popularity made the decision easy for Dodge to bring the hood back for the 2015 model year, celebrating the 45th anniversary of the Shaker hood, although this time it could sit atop either a 5.7L HEMI engine or a 6.4L HEMI engine producing no less than 485 horsepower.
Today, the Shaker hood can be had in no less than three flavors on the exhilarating Challenger muscle car. It comes as an optional package for the R/T, R/T Plus and the 392 Scat Pack trims, adding a level of personalization to the already striking car.
It is no surprise how popular the Shaker hood is in the new muscle car era, especially because no other car fits the spirit of the Shaker hood as well as the Dodge Challenger. And with seemingly as many muscle car fans in this horsepower-fueled era as the original, who knows what heritage-inspired feature will be clamored for next.