Proof The Dodge Hellcat Is Exactly What You Are Looking For!

by Michael Satterfield

If Texas was a car, it would be the Dodge Challenger.

I was awakened at around 7am on a Wednesday morning by the low rumble of a muscle car's exhaust outside my window, immediately followed by my phone ringing, "Mr. Satterfield, we are here to drop off the Challenger," said the voice on the line. Pulling on a shirt and a ball cap I went out to meet the delivery driver. Stepping out on to the patio from the air-conditioning, my glasses immediately fogged up, it was already 75 degrees, the Texas summer had come nearly a month early. "I don't know why they schedule you for nine AM we always get to Waco by seven," said the delivery driver has he handed me the key. He did the usual delivery talk, asking if I had any questions, and before departing, he said: "be careful, this is a wild one." He got into his waiting ride, leaving me with a dark red muscle car and a "red key" that allowed me to unlock the full 797hp that Dodge has stuffed under hood, don't worry, if you have a teenager at home you can give them the standard black key to limit them to just 500hp, which is much more reasonable.

Americans, especially Texans, have a reputation globally, of being big, loud, boorish cowboys, quick to take action and not afraid of a fight, if you were to distill those elements into a car, it would be the Dodge Challenger. So it's not surprising that the Dodge Challenger was named the 2019 Car of Texas and the Performance Car of Texas by the Texas Auto Writers Association.  

Since it launched in 2008 the Challenger has always offered a big V8, loud exhaust, and a commanding presence on the road. With each passing year it seemed Dodge would add a new package or option, starting with the 2011 SRT8 which had 470hp, in 2015 we saw the first Hellcat with 707 hp, then in 2018, the Demon was released with 808hp basically a stripped down factory drag car, you even had to order a passenger seat as an option. For 2019, Dodge has released, this car, essentially a more streetable Demon. While the Demon's name was simple, this car may have the longest name in Muscle car history, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody

I quickly changed and headed out drive beast to gather my impressions, I needed to figure out how best to shoot a video about the car. I pulled into a rural mini-mart to pick up an ice tea and returned to find a group of guys looking at the car. "Is that the Demon?" one asked "No the Demon has a different hood," another replied. I gave them the rundown on the car, popped the hood, started it and revved the engine a few times. They were impressed, mostly by the price tag of  $88,900, which launched them into another discussion about what they would do if they won the lottery, I saw this as my chance to exit the conversation and headed down the road back towards Waco to shoot some photos and grab lunch at a local BBQ joint. 

While I was eating I could see people stopping and looking at the car, taking pictures, then a Charger Hellcat pulled and parked next to it, Oh crap I thought, this is going to be one of those cars. My fears were confirmed when the driver of the Charger got out and just leaned against the front fender of his car... he was waiting. As I walk up he says "Nice Redeye Brother, how long you had it?" I have found that explaining the press car situation just leads to more questions, so I just replied: "Just got it and its a lot of fun."  The conversation went on for about 20 minutes before I could escape. If you are going to buy a Redeye, budget some extra time for random conversations and answering questions.

Ridiculously conspicuous.

After posting a picture on Instagram of the car, my phone is flooded with messages from friends, family, and casual acquaintances all wondering when I could take them for a ride in the Hellcat. But I had to get caught up on some work, so for all of Thursday, the Hellcat would sit outside my window, parked on the street. Taunting the neighbor who drives a mere Challenger Scat Pack, I went out to collect the mail and find him lustfully gazing from across the drive. "You wanna check it out?" I say. He says nothing and slowly shuffles up the driveway towards the street where the car is parked. I go through the motions, pop the hood, talk about the dual fuel pumps, the red key, the 797hp that no one in their right mind needs. The ritual complete, we both retire to our respective condos. 

Friday on a holiday weekend meant I was headed to College Station, my girlfriend's father was looking forward to his chance to ride right seat. I picked up Jennifer and we headed over to her parents place, she would stay and visit with her mom while, her dad and I would go for a quick ride. As soon as he heard the rumble of the V8 and the whine of the supercharger his entire demeanor shifted and he was soon recounting stories from his high school days of growing up with muscle cars in Missouri. I think we had one of those "car guy" moments. Girlfriend's dad impressed, we headed out to dinner with friends and a country BBQ joint on the outskirts of Bryan, TX. Leaving the restaurant we again had a crowd of onlookers who were waiting by the car. I can't think of a car I have driven recently that garnered so much attention, it's crazy. But crazy is what this car is, it's like driving the culmination of every ounce of testosterone collectively produced by the red-blooded American men within a 100-mile radius and channeled directly to the ground via the massive Pirelli tires, it demands attention simply because of its nature. 

Saturday was spent tooling around Central Texas, we visited Royal Pecans where we toured their grove and enjoyed some pecan pie. Even here when we were set to depart we were met by visitors and members of the staff who wanted to check out the Hellcat, I was surprised at how much cross over there is between pecan loves and muscle car enthusiasts.

Doing what it does best.

Sunday I reached out to a local drag strip to see if it would be possible to bring the Hellcat down for at least a photo shoot. "Hell man, you can use the track," he said. So I packed my gear and we headed down, it would be Jennifer's first time visiting a drag race and she was impressed with how nice Little River Dragway was, a track that has been in continuous operation since 1957. The rural track was hosting some bracket racing, but once they had finished it was my time to shine. I pulled the car up to the starting line, set it in track mode, engaged launch control and when the lights went green. I mashed the throttle. The Hellcat launched forward, power building, as the thundering exhaust competed against the whine of the massive supercharger. All I could do was laugh like a giddy idiot and smile from ear to ear. In just 11.2 seconds I had covered a quarter mile in a bone stock car with ventilated seats and street tires.

I went for a few more runs before returning to the pits, taking off my helmet my hair was soaked with sweat, in track mode, the air conditioning is cut and with the afternoon track temperatures in the high 90s it was time to call it a day. I loaded up the camera gear, thanked the people at the track, and we headed back towards College Station. While the car cooled back down, I had flashbacks to the old Ford Galaxie 500 I drove in high school, big block and no AC, it was massive, powerful, but nothing like the Hellcat, which stoaked all of the same emotions that my 60s muscle cars gave me, but with none of the drawbacks. The same car that had just run the quarter mile at a 124 mph, was now in eco-mode with the cruise control on, getting 17 mpg, AC blasting. It really is impressive that Dodge has been able to make a car that does both things so well.

The verdict.

The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody is one of those cars that no one really needs, it's loud, conspicuous, tempting, gets terrible gas mileage, and instantly converts anyone who gets behind the wheel into a 16-year-old boy. But that is what it is made to do, it is made to be a little crazy, it's bravado on wheels, and when looking at the performance to dollar ratio, an incredible value. To put it in perspective the official 1/4 mile time for the Hellcat Redeye is 10.8 seconds at 131 mph, that is faster than the Dodge Viper SRT-10 and the Hellcat still has four seats. I don't think I would want to live with the Redeye every day, but it would be a hell of a car to have in the garage for when you just needed to roll down the windows and blast down a country road.