CLASSIC ON THE CUSP / #Dodge-Challenger-Hellcat
With 707bhp-worth of thrills and spills on tap, this is no pussycat
Cost new #2014
Value now #2015
When your passenger pees herself you know you’re in a very scary ride. That most awkward of awkward moments happened last summer on the Pacific Coast Highway outside Malibu in a Dodge Challenger Hellcat SRT. I’d got it hopelessly out of line showing off and ended up stalled and sideways across two carriageways.
When the tyre smoke cleared my producer made her embarrassing confession and I drove her (slowly) to the nearest restroom. But that’s the Hellcat for you – the fastest and most powerful muscle car in history and an insane homage to the legendary #Chrysler
Hemis of the Sixties and Seventies. It cranks out 707 horses from a 6.2-litre V8, does the standing quarter in 11 seconds – on street rubber – and hits 60mph in 3.5 seconds. I’ve been in planes that seem slower. But while a fi ne 1969 Dodge Charger Six Pack is now $150k, the 2015 Hellcat costs just $61,000 – or forty grand sterling to you. That’s epic value for the sort of straight-line performance worthy of an original seven-litre Cobra.
On corners the Hellcat is useless. Too much weight, girth and understeer. But on the strip very few cars actually feel faster. I totally understand why one of the first buyers totalled his Hellcat within an hour of leaving the showroom. Driving this explosive missile is a constant exercise in monastic restraint. Get the throttle pressure ever so slightly wrong and the tyres light up, you’re wreathed in smoke and suddenly pointing in the opposite direction. But that’s the total wonder of this car – that and the fact it sticks up two transatlantic fingers to any semblance of European finesse. The Hellcat feels tons more fun than a 458.
And it looks so horny with its coke bottle shape, vibrant Seventies colours and rubber wide enough to roll a polo field. At idle that monster supercharged V8 rocks angrily on its mountings and makes a noise like the devil’s kettledrum. Shift the eight-speed auto into drive (there’s also a manual option for the brave) and you find yourself concentrating like you’re in a full-on fistfight. Visceral doesn’t begin to describe the experience – more like petrifying but in a hugely exciting and exhilarating way. Bringing one into the UK won’t be simple and taxes will inflate that tempting US sticker price, but if you want a proper hardcore act of absolute one-upmanship the Hellcat will make most other supercars look like suburban clichés.
Will it appreciate in value? Who knows? Will owning one be one of the wildest things you’ve ever done? Absolutely. And that’s why the Hellcat will always have a place in history as one of the most amazing muscle cars ever to come out of America.
‘It sticks up two transatlantic fingers to any semblance of European finesse’