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Challenger Camshafts & the Iconic Muscle Car Lope

Challenger Camshafts & the Iconic Muscle Car Lope

The Challenger’s camshaft is no unsung hero. For decades American muscle cars have been an iconic mate with radical camshafts. The camshaft is responsible for dictating the muscle cars performance all across the power band and can even give us that satisfying low choppy rumble we all dream of.

Shop Challenger Camshafts

Camshafts are part of the puzzle that provides the iconic muscle lope. A more aggressive cam means a more aggressive note, but be sure to select the right cam for your build. Camshafts are commonly upgraded alongside other parts of the cylinder head as well as intake and exhaust mods.

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What is a Camshaft?

Knowing what a camshaft does and what a camshaft is are two very different things; by understanding both you can move on to understanding how they work and how to pick what’s right for your third-generation Challenger (2008 – present).

The camshaft is a long shaft fitted with lobes. As the camshaft spins, the lobes open the valves of the cylinder head. The lobes are responsible for allowing air and fuel to enter the chamber and exhaust to exit at specific times.

How Your Challenger Camshafts are Timed

The camshafts in a third-gen Challenger’s engine are directly linked to the crankshaft. As the crankshaft turns, the camshafts are rotated by the mechanism that connects them - the timing chain.

This motion is how the lobes work to gradually open or close the valves as the engine rotates.


Stock Camshaft Setup

Moving to select a camshaft for your Challenger needs to be done with an established reference point. The characteristics of a camshaft’s effect on performance is dictated by the grind.

The lift and duration are what tells us how the cam will want to perform. 
By looking at what the car has to work with originally, you can get a good idea of what sort of grind you are looking for on your Challenger.

You will also need to know how many camshafts your engine has. 
An OHV (overhead valve) engine has one single camshaft, while a DOHC (dual overhead cam) has two-per cylinder head (V6 DOHC engines have a total of 4 camshafts).

3.6 V6 DOHC

  • Duration @50: Intake, 260; Exhaust: 269
  • Lift: Intake, 0.472”; Exhaust, 0.460”

5.7 Hemi OHV

  • Duration @50: Intake, 260; Exhaust: 269
  • Lift: Intake, 0.472”; Exhaust, 0.460”

6.1 Hemi OHV

  • Duration @50: Intake: 205 Exhaust: 211
  • Lift: Intake 0.521” Exhaust: 0.521”

6.2 Hemi Hellcat OHV

  • Duration @50: Intake: 278 Exhaust: 304
  • Lift: Intake 0.340” Exhaust: 0.334”

6.2 Hemi Demon OHV

  • Under Raps

6.4 392 Hemi OHV

  • Duration @50: Intake: 286 Exhaust: 280
  • Lift: Intake 0.577” Exhaust: 0.537”

How to Pick a Cam

Picking a camshaft for a particular application goes further than simply buying a cam with more lift and duration. The lift and duration combination will tell you how the engine will perform with that camshaft at particular rpm ranges with particular mods.

A camshaft that will work for a 5.7 Hemi with race heads at high rpm will not work as well on a 5.7 Hemi with few mods that is intended for street use and the best cam for a boosted 5.7 geared toward high rpm won’t work for many other combinations.

While you’re considering a cam you will need to be prepared to read into what mods you are running and how you truly intend to drive the car. This will ensure you pick a cam that will allow the engine to use up every bit of power it needs and how it needs it in the moments it counts most.

Mods to Compliment with a Camshaft

The best way to build an engine is to make a plan with a carefully calculated formula. If you have a set plan it’s much easier to pick the right camshaft. It’s not uncommon to throw mods at an engine in an effort to boost performance while neglecting the camshaft.

After a particular mod or set of mods is thrown on an engine the stock camshaft might not be taking advantage of what you’ve done to it and the time will come to pick out a cam that will make the most of what’s available to it.

Bolt Ons: Intakes, throttle bodies, headers and exhaust systems are all popularly combined mods thrown on Challengers. These mods combined will raise power and performance but the factory cam might fall short of utilizing the additional airflow that is available to the engine. Choosing the right aftermarket cam may make night and day differences that will give new life to old speed parts.

Cylinder Heads: Cylinder head upgrades will almost always warrant the use of an aftermarket camshaft. The cylinder head will tell you how much lift you can run and can dramatically increase airflow and alter compression ratios. If you are looking to install new heads on your Challenger you will want to make sure the cam you pick will milk those aftermarket cylinder heads for everything they’ve got.

Boost: A boosted engine and a naturally aspirated engine make power in two very different ways. The increased volume of air in the cylinders of the engine and the rapid air flow will tell you that an aftermarket cam will be needed to make sure the 5-7lbs of sweet boost can do its job.

Tuners and Cams

When a cam is installed the factory tune will not cut it. You will need to run an aftermarket or custom tune to make sure the engine is squeezing enough air and fuel into the Chamber as the cam opens the door.

A custom tune will go the furthest but a handheld programmer is still an acceptable upgrade in this case.

Fitment includes: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, SRT-8, RT, SE, SXT, RallyeRedline, ScatPack, Hellcat, GT, TA, Demon