The Transformance of a Dodge Caliber

Many basic and boring cars throughout history have been the lucky recipients of a new engine, improved suspension and brakes.  
The resulting increase in performance usually results in a pretty big transformation.  A transformance, if you will.

Trans-form-ance (verb)

1. the act of transformation by an infusion of performance

see also Performation

Everyone probably has a favorite car that went through a transformance sometime in its product cycle.  The Volkswagen Rabbit begat the GTi; the Ford Taurus, the SHO; the GMC Sonoma, Syclone. All of those examples began life as a solid, well-rounded vehicle that sold well.  A popular choice in its assigned class.  What if you took a car that was generally panned by critics, unloved in the marketplace and ultimately ended up canceled after only a few model years – and completely transformed it by replacing a thrashy and generally mediocre 158-horsepower engine with a batshit-crazy 285-horsepower turbocharged powerplant and additional braking, suspension and performance goodies?  And what if, at the same time, you were to change the appearance of said car from awkward, unattractive and downright bizzarre to something aggressive, interesting and generally badass?

Well, you’d have a Dodge Caliber SRT-4.

Now, let us have a moment of silence for the dear, departed Dodge Caliber.  Okay, that didn’t take too long.  Let’s face it, outside of rental car companies, few people will likely miss the Caliber.  It was strange looking, cheaply built and a poor performer.  And it was recently killed off – the last example rolled off the assembly line on November 23, 2011.   That’s why I was out driving around Salt Lake City’s industrial west end with my camera on a cold afternoon recently – I was on a mission to find the most unusual, oddball and unique vehicle imaginable.  Instead, I found a Caliber SRT-4.  At least it was perfectly positioned for photographing in a 45 degree angle spot.  I grabbed my camera a snapped a few photos from different angles and checked them out in the camera display.

I don’t know how I missed it when I parked my car, or when I was circling the SRT-4, but there was a Caliber SE parked on the opposite side of the street in the background of one of my photos. 

What an opportunity! I walked down the street and took a few shots.  But for some reason, I wasn’t happy with any.  While the SRT-4 was a willing model with interesting angles and cool details, the SE just… wasn’t.  Was it the color?  The location?  No.  The SE was just ugly.

How is that a trim package could so throughly transform a car?  Was the turbo engine somehow communicating with my digital camera?  Did the red paint dazzle my brain?  Or was the SE really that bad?  

Yes.  It is really that bad.  The pseudo-SUV styling isn’t tough, it isn’t attractive and it certainly isn’t intimidating. 

After several hours tens of minutes sifting through my photos and analyzing the styling of both cars, that can be my only conclusion.  The SE was boring, cold and ugly.  The SRT-4 was exciting, cool and surprisingly… attractive?

Click to enlarge (1680x1050p)


Click to enlarge (1680x1050p)


So the question is, if it’s not the Dodge Caliber SE and SRT-4, then what vehicle has had the greatest Transformance?  

This will be the first in hopefully a long series of Design Studies.  I’ve done a few on my personal blog, but I’ll be migrating this idea over to Hooniverse because it’s a lot of fun.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.

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