--- "I'll never be able to face my muscle-car friends if I don't ask you for a ride around the block," Brooks reminds me.
"Sure, get in." It's not like I'm going to turn him down. This 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 in all its Hemi Orange splendor has been illegally parked in front of motorhead bookstore Autobooks in Burbank, California, for an hour, so I'd be totally cold to just drive off without giving one of the guys a ride.
Dropping the keys into the cupholder, I press the start button. It's plastic rather than some kind of pretentious metal, yet it wakes up the 6.1-liter Hemi V8 all the same. It's a hot afternoon in Burbank, but I put the windows down so Brooks can get the full aural effect.
"It idles quieter than I thought it would," he says. "I was expecting it to grumble and snort like the old cars that my friends have."
I pull onto Magnolia Boulevard, take a quick right down a side street scanning for children and pets, and go for maybe two-thirds throttle.
"That's more like it," says Brooks, bracing himself a little. "The exhaust note gets all loud and old-school as the revs build, and even though it's an automatic, the car feels fast."
A minute later, we roll up to Autobooks and my only Challenger ride-along of the weekend seems to be over. But Brooks knows better.
"Wait here a second. I'm going to see if my manager Hiram wants to ride with you."