Are you a partisan in the great war against yellow front-splitter guards on Dodge Chargers and Challengers? Did you even know such a was even existed? A true heavyweight has weighed in, and you may not like what he has to say.
Late in 2017, owners started leaving the guards, which come from the factory as protection for front air dams that were getting scratched during shipping to dealers, on their cars, citing the aesthetic as well as practical benefits. The look became so popular that take-offs can fetch a decent amount of money on eBay, and dealers often leave the guards in place just in case buyers want them that way, as seen on this 2019 Challenger R/T at a Cleveland-area dealership. Aftermarket companies have even gotten in on the action.
The trend attracted the attention of the Internet at large by the middle of last year, forcing everybody with a social media account to come down on one side or the other of "Splittergate." Facebook groups emerged specifically to troll owners who keep the splitter guards on their cars. Truly, it's the sort of conflict that pits bro against bro.
Those groups got some fresh ammunition Thursday after part-time pro race driver and auto journalist Brian Makse asked Dodge/SRT design boss Mark Trostle to address the subject in an YouTube video interview about the design of the new 2020 Dodge Charger Widebody.
"When we did the sketch for the Charger and Challenger, it never had yellow strips on it. I wish they would take them off," Trostle said. "To me, as a designer, it ruins the lines of the car." Trostle added that the guards ruin the paint.
While it's reasonable for an artist to feel invested in his or her own design, the notion that an element doesn't belong simply because it wasn't part of the in-house design is a bit thin. The same argument can be made against any aftermarket add-on or wheel. As enthusiast cars, the Charger and Challenger will attract buyers who want to make them their own. As aesthetic transgressions go, leaving some contrasting color on a body element is fairly harmless.
On top of that, designers are constrained by engineering specifications and budgets: two things owners can disregard if they so choose. Few automobiles leave the factory as ideal representations of their designers' initial vision. To claim a factory design is the end-all, be-all of how a vehicle can look is a bit of a stretch unless you're talking about true exotics.
Makse calls it the final word, but we're quite certain it won't be. For 2020, Dodge is retiring the yellow shipping guard. Fret not, fans; there's a replacement: "We've introduced a new, fashionable purple color. We'll see if that one takes off. I hope it doesn't, but, it's purple," Trostle said.
As tactics for discouraging the retention of splitter guards on a Mopar product go, making them purple seems dubious at best.