The Hellcat is the Messiah of the muscle car world. When it was announced a few years ago, everyone was talking about EcoBoost Mustangs and V6 Camaros, but Dodge was about to give them something far better to talk about: a fire-breathing, rubber-burning, fuel-chugging monster.
When you create something as out-of-this-world insane as a Hellcat, well, let’s just say you set a lot of records and break a lot of rules. So, let’s run through some of the wildest things about the Hellcat that you probably didn’t know.
Cheaper Than a Bugatti – A Lot Cheaper
Okay, so the best part about the Hellcat isn’t it’s horsepower, it’s the price. All that power for that cheap, well, why even buy a Bugatti, right? We had to double check our math on this one, but if you wanted a Dodge Challenger Hellcat in every color with a Charger Hellcat Widebody to go along with it, it would cost you nearly $1.6 million. That’s the same as it would cost to buy a Bugatti Veyron today.
I know you’re thinking that a Bugatti would be worth so much more than a bunch of Dodges, but from a horsepower standpoint, we think the Mopar monsters may be worth it. The Bugatti will only have 1,500 horsepower, and each of those Dodges will be packing at least 707 ponies, and both the Challenger and Charger have 13 color options each. Collectively, that’s like 18,000 horsepower in your stable.
That’s enough to have one hell of a fun track day with you and 25 of your closest friends. Speaking of all that power, you’re actually getting it at an incredible value with the Hellcat.
Cheap Horses – A Good Deal
This is another one for all the mathematicians out there. The Charger and Challenger Hellcats both pack insane horsepower-per-dollar. At 717 horsepower, the extra 10 comes courtesy of Dodge after the 2019 model year, the Hellcat versions of both the Charger and Challenger pack around 1 horsepower per $87. That’s a better ratio than any supercar, and pretty much any car on the road today, putting both of the Hellcats on the list of best bargain sports cars available now.
The new Chevy Camaro does beat them out for value, but it doesn’t have as much power. And, come on, this is a car blog after all, more power is always better. But sometimes that power can come at a price, as the first owner of a brand new Hellcat found out real quick.
Short Lifespan – Power Hour
This one should come as a surprise to literally no one. The first Hellcat sold in 2015 crashed just an hour after leaving the lot. Next you’ll be telling me that bears do actually crap in the woods. The Hellcat was sold in Colorado to a 34-year-old who found the new 707 horsepower muscle car a little tricky to handle.
Fresh off the lot, he decided to stab the skinny pedal, lost control, and sent his brand new Hellcat into a tree. Fortunately, the only thing that was really hurt in the accident was the driver’s self-esteem. There weren’t any drugs or alcohol involved, but with 700 horses going to the back wheels, we don’t think you’d need drugs or alcohol to be able to crash a Hellcat anyway.
Now, if you’re trying to convince your parents that the Hellcat is a good first car for you, maybe tell them about its fuel economy.
It’s Economical – Sort Of
While that last fact may not have been a surprise, we think this one may be. The Hellcat is actually kind of economical. According to Dodge, the Hellcat makes around 22 miles per gallon on the highway. 22 miles per gallon isn’t spectacular in any sense, but it’s a hell of a lot more than we’d expect from a fire-breathing V8 muscle car.
The Hellcat isn’t a Prius, but you still won’t be visiting the pump every day, just every other day. And while you’re at the pump, a fun fact you can tell all the car nerds that flock to see your Hellcat is the origin of its name.
It’s Got the Coolest Name – Street Fighter Plane
This is one for the history buffs. Hellcat is an awesome name on its own, I mean, I just picture a giant Jaguar-shaped cat on fire. Actually, though, the Hellcat derives its name from the Second World War. The Second Great War had us Americans coming up with all kinds of war machines for the singular purpose of wiping out those damn Nazis. One of the greatest creations of that period was the Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter plane.
The American-made fighter was primarily used in the Pacific theater. It was a classic WWII war bird that came up during development of the Hellcat, and the name just kind of stuck. We agree with the development team at Dodge, the name fits the attitude of the car perfectly.
Speaking of its development process, it took one hell of an effort to get the Hellcat designed and developed.
Blood, Sweat, and Tears – Hellish Production
You’d think that something like a Hellcat would need some time to fully develop for the road, and you’d be right. The Hellcat project caught a lot of the public’s attention, so Dodge needed to deliver. Every bit of research they could muster would be thrown at the new engine. So, to accommodate that, Dodge had to build an entirely new facility and invest just a little of their time into the development.
Nearly 2 million hours of testing had to go into the creation of the Hellcat engine. That’s like 83,000 days, or 228 years. But, we can all agree, it was more than worth it.
Now, a 700-horsepower engine needs two things: fuel and a hell of a lot of air to breathe, and a lot of car manufacturers have crazy vents and hoods to make their cars look more aggressive. But, the Hellcat’s pig-nosed hood actually works!
A Good Hood – Pig-Nosed Power
An engine packing over 700 horsepower needs to breathe. There’s a lot of hot air running through something that insane, and that’s why the Hellcat has one of the largest functioning hood scoops in the automotive game.
This set of hood scoops works with all of the other cooling systems to keep the Hellcat Hemi from grenading itself on the drag strip. This added air also helps add another 10 horsepower to the Hemi engine. Not a bad little boost to help with that modest amount of power the Hellcat already packs.
But, a couple of vents just isn’t enough to calm the fires of hell under the hood. For this kind of heat, Dodge had to get creative.
One Cool Engine – Chill Out
How did they manage to make everything on the Hellcat sound so cool? The Hellcat engine comes with a built-in power-chiller. No, that’s not a mini fridge stored in the trunk to keep your beers on chill for tailgating.
The power-chiller is a separate AC unit purposely built to keep the engine cool. Something with 717 horsepower tends to run a little hot, just like most other things with absurd amounts of power, like rocket engines. Dodge and NASA may have more in common than we originally thought.
Now, sure, it’s fast and loud and has a cool name, but the Hellcat is really special down to the finest details, including the names of its paint.
Even the Paint Is Cool – All in a Name
This one is a little more niche. Knowing paint color names and designations is peak car nerd stuff. Knowing a bunch of codes and names for car paints is usually pretty lame, however, we think that the average buyer should know about the color options on their Hellcat.
You can choose between a selection of Hellishly-themed color options. Would you want “Sinamon Stick” or “Hellraisin”? Maybe something a little tougher like “White Knuckle White” or “Smoke Show”? Either way, you can brag just as much about your paint color as you can your horsepower.
You’ll want to know that paint code for when you loan the car to your friends, and to keep them from denting that paint in a fender bender. Oh, and make sure you turn down the volume on that engine with one of the Hellcat’s many modes.
It Has Multiple Modes – Know Your Limits
Let’s say you need to have someone else drive your Hellcat, giving it to a valet, loaning it to your friends, or you want to just scare the living hell out of your mom. You wouldn’t want them to end up like the owner of the very first Hellcat, would you? As amusing as that would be to watch, the insurance company and your wallet may not think it’s as funny. That’s why Dodge created two separate keys for the Hellcat.
This feature is so whoever gets to drive your car doesn’t blow themselves into the stratosphere with all 717 horsepower. The “Valet” mode for the Hellcat limits output to just 300 horsepower, which is enabled through the infotainment system.
If you hand hand someone the black key, that can also be used to restrain the Hellcat to a measly 500 horsepower. The red key is the fun button, the key to unlocking the full power potential of the Hellcat engine. Just make sure you have a long stretch of straight road to use it, and maybe a clean pair of pants. With that red key and enough runway, you can take your Hellcat to an insane top speed.
The 200 Club – One Fast Cat
Something with 717 horsepower is going to be fast, really fast. The laws of physics work against us at every turn, but raw power is the only sure fire way to overpower them. At full clip, the Hellcat is able to hit 204 miles per hour, which is pretty good for something that looks like it has the aerodynamics of a brick. But, like I said, enough power is enough to overpower the laws of aerodynamics.
0-to-60 is taken care of in just 3.4 seconds, but the really amazing thing about that acceleration is how quickly the Hellcat gets to 204. It only takes the Hellcat 4 miles to get to 204 miles per hour. The tests for the Bugatti Chiron were done on a 5-mile-long airstrip, and that’s a $3 million car with 1,500 horsepower.
The Challenger is a $60,000 muscle car built in Detroit that’s as aerodynamic as a mobile home. It’s the king of muscle cars, right?
A Challenger Appears – Not the King Anymore?
So, we’ve established that the Hellcat is fast. The rolling missile has enough power to tear up a 4-mile-long strip for lunch, but the early development of the Hellcat means that its competition had time to prepare, and Ford came out swinging.
The new GT500 has 760 horsepower, so it beats out the Dodge right out of the gate. The raw speed drivers can feel in the new Shelby is unreal, but it’s not just the power that makes the GT500 such a treat, it’s the handling. The GT500 isn’t just a purpose-built drag car, it’s a full-blown track car. Who would have thought there would be a Mustang with good handling?
The Hellcat is fast but, in all honesty, it’s useless outside of a drag strip. It’s got decent suspension but that massive block up front prevents the Hellcat from ever being nimble. The GT500 may just be too large of a monster for the Hellcat to take on.
But, the Hellcat has one thing the Shelby doesn’t: diamonds!
It’s Got Diamonds – A Car’s Best Friend
This sounds more like a Bentley than a Dodge, but trust us, it’s true. Each and every Challenger and Charger Hellcat has diamonds inside it. The supercharger in the Hellcat engine sucks in so much air that the crankshaft pulley had to be reinforced with diamond-encrusted washers. Regular steel washers weren’t just going to cut it. They would have buckled under the pressure those superchargers were putting on the Hemi.
Any other substance wouldn’t have worked either, so Dodge said, “Screw it, give them diamonds.” Let’s hope you never need to replace those washers. That might be expensive. What’s also going to be expensive is your fuel bill every month.
She Thirsty – Fuel Chugger
I know that we talked about the fuel efficiency of the Hellcat earlier, but now let’s talk about how quickly it can burn it all. If you go flat out, you’ll be draining about 1.5 gallons per minute. That’s about $7 per minute, depending on how much gas is where you live. This also means you’ll burn through all of that gas in about 13 minutes. That doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but if you haven’t picked up on it yet, the Hellcat is fast.
Crunching the numbers, you should be able to do 83 consecutive quarter-mile drags before you completely drain the tank. That’s 83 consecutive chances to destroy anyone daring enough to challenge you. Hopefully you raced for money, though, so you can afford to refill it.