We got wind of an event called Super Sunday taking place in Woodland Hills, California – a weekly Sunday morning cruise-in that takes place in the mall parking lot on Topanga Canyon Blvd. We were particularly interested in this cruise-in for a specific vehicle that has been making the rounds in Southern California: The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.
Racers have been doing it for years, now Dodge has made a lamp opening the cold air intake for the supercharged Hellcat Hemi.
We showed up early, and got to catch up with some old friends and meet some new ones, and then without warning a familiar red coupe cruised into the lot and parked amongst other Mopars looking right at home. The guys from Chrysler decided to bring the Hellcat Challenger by for a few hours so we could all check it out up close and personal. We talked with a few of the staff who brought the car to get some impressions and opinions about how the car feels and how badass that supercharged Hemi really is.
The first thing that we were told was that the Hellcat is every bit as impressive as you can imagine. The car we saw earlier today was equipped with the 8-speed Torqueflite automatic, and the transmission is designed and engineered so well that the shifts, even under boost, are smooth and precise. They got to bring both keys – red and black – but we’re pretty sure that the black key didn’t get used much – or at all, for that matter.
There was a crowd around the Hellcat Challenger all morning long, clearly the star of this show.
As with any high profile vehicle like this, we wanted lots of pictures, and lots of information that they just can’t (and won’t) share with us. Without naming names, we did get the impression that the Hellcat Hemi is begging for a smaller supercharger pulley for a bit more boost and quite a few extra ponies.
The Hellcat Hemi
Some things we’re hearing:
- A smaller supercharger pulley could net much more power
- More than 1,200 will be produced
- VIN000001 is to be auctioned off at Barret-Jackson/Las Vegas in September
- The Charger is getting the Hellcat Hemi
- The Hellcat Charger will look much different
- Similar hood
- Different front end
- Possibly a more aggressive look
We sincerely feel that 707 horsepower
isn’t the best this little Hellcat can do, and after our Engine Labs Editor, Mike Magda, spent some time with Greg Black from Chrysler Engineering
, we truly feel that the 91% new components on this beast are just waiting for someone to unleash more power.
We even got a visit from the Rock Star himself, Ralph Gilles, who wasn’t piloting the Hellcat but came to spend some time with old friends from Mopar360, SoCal LX, and SoCal Challengers. For anyone who has met Ralph Gilles, it becomes quickly apparent that this man is first and foremost a friend, and as it was so eloquently put, “he just happens to have a bitchin’ job.”
Gilles will spend time with anyone who is there to ask questions about the car, whether it’s us media-types searching for the next big bit of news, or just some guy who is willing to trade in his house, kids, pets and current steed for a Hellcat.
Gilles is very personable and likable, and that is perhaps why people automatically think of him when the Hellcat Hemi is mentioned – but he’ll be the first to tell you that the rest of the team at Chrysler is just as important as he is, or even more so, giving them credit for all they’ve done with the Hellcat.
The gauges are pretty cool, too, and red is only available on the Hellcat Challenger, for now, at least.
People are drawn to the Hellcat Challenger because of the impression that the car makes, and it seems the crowd is drawn to Gilles for the impression that he makes. People like him, and he will talk to anyone who has a question, or take time out of his day for a picture.
He’s modest, though, and although the Hellcat probably can “sell itself”, as Gilles told us, we still think that he is one of the reasons that the SRT Brand has drawn so many people in – and that’s not a bad thing even if Gilles won’t admit it.
Besides, could you ever imagine GM CEO Mary Barra taking a new ZL1 out before a crowd at Carlisle and performing a wicked burnout? Quite frankly, we’d love to see it, but Ralph Gilles will always be the one we remember as rocking a massive burnout.
Enjoy the gallery below of the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, and let us know in the comments below what you’d be willing to trade for a Hellcat Challenger. Even if you don’t care for it – these are still pretty exciting times for enthusiasts to be around modern musclecars.
Perhaps the car can sell itself, but one thing you can expect from Ralph Gilles: he will treat you like a friend - even if he just met you.