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Hellcat Follies

Sunday morning, my friend Jim called to find out if i’d be home that afternoon. Jim is a GM at a local Dodge dealership and said he wanted to show me his weekend loaner, I said sure. He shows up that afternoon in a 2020 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye. He gets out and tells me to get behind the wheel. The car makes a very satisfying rumble on start-up. I step on the clutch and back it out of my driveway. I couldn’t really exercise the car on the local streets, so we decided i’d drive it 3.5 miles to the NJ Turnpike entrance. That short drive was not fun, The clutch was so stiff I thought I’d need a knee replacement. The last time i felt a clutch like that was in a 1968 Plymouth GTX with a Schiefer racing clutch. Fortunately the car had enough low end torque that I could keep it in 3rd for most of the trip. We got to the Turnpike, and I rolled down the entrance ramp still in third. there was an opening in the right lane,so i punched the gas, still without a downshift. there was a brief chirp and then the traction control hooked us up. Holy cow! My eyeballs were pushed back in my head. I had to slam the gearbox into fourth before I knew it. The rest of the ride was amazing. The car went through the curves on the turnpike at 70 like it was on rails. I exited the Tpke at exit 2 and re-entered the northbound side. Then it was back to driving on local, suburban streets that are not ideal for a car like this. The car was noisy and had a harsh ride, but I presume folks that spend $70,000 for a car like this are not buying it for a smooth ride.
I had a cup of coffee with Jim after the ride and gave him my opinion that it was a good performance car but it would be more pleasant with an automatic transmission. He said buyers take them with a manual 75% of the time. He’s getting a delivery from the factory on Friday, and he believes one of the cars will be an automatic, and he’ll give me a drive in that one for comparison. So stay tuned.

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Nice, must have been fun. I always wanted to drive a Viper for the same reason .

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Those cars are fast, for sure. Bit of a one-trick pony though. Very reminiscent of the performance cars of the 60’s. Hemi Cudas, LS-6 Chevelles or 427 Fairlanes. All motor and not much else.

They are very heavy and lack the brakes a car that fast needs for more than one stop. The weight makes them lack the handling of less powerful cars. Still pretty good for the lower limits one can achieve on the street.

It is scary to see them show up for a track-day at the local road race course. Very fast in a straight line but insufficient brakes and handling compared to other, more balanced, performance cars. Cadillac CTS-V’s have similar problems with 150 - 250 HP less.