Skip to main content

The 825hp Pre-Production Hellcat Challenger isn't a Real Thing

There are some images floating around the internet of a 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat that are accompanied by a story about how it is a rare pre-production model with 825 horsepower that accidentally made it into the dealership world – a story which I have found out is totally untrue from sources from the Chrysler Group.


The image above shows the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat in question and I’ve left the story there to read. However, I have blacked out the name of the guy who posted it, along with his face and the name of the dealership where this car allegedly turned up. I didn’t want to attach the guy who posted this exact picture online, as he isn’t the only person posting about it and since he is clearly mistaken, I didn’t want to blast the guy for repeating what others have stated online. Also, the dealership name has been removed because I don’t know if the dealership tagged in the image has any involvement with this absurd automotive urban legend.

The Mythical 825hp Pre-production Hellcat Challenger
So the story goes something like this: Chrysler allegedly built 8 examples of the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat that had 825 horsepower rather than 707 horsepower. Seven of these cars were decommissioned, but somehow, one of them was mistaken for a normal production car and shipped to a buyer.

I know – it sounds ridiculous already.

The story goes on to say that the owner brought the car to the dealership to complain that his driver’s side turnlight wasn’t working correctly, at which point the dealership explained to him that the Hellcat Challenger has a pass-through headlight for improve engine air intake. Also, during this visit, the dealership somehow learned that this car was a pre-production model with 825 horsepower.

Let’s be honest – the story is just plain stupid, but there are more than a few people going around the various social networks posting this nonsense. I mean, are we really supposed to believe that someone who purchased one of the early Hellcat Challengers didn’t know about the air intake headlight assembly?

However, since some people are very sure that this story is true, I reached out to my contacts with the Chrysler Group to find out if there was any validity to any part of this story.

2015 Challenger Galleries:
The 2015 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack in Sublime
The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat in TorRed
The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat in Sublime

Debunked in So Many Ways
The most definitive proof that this story is nonsense comes from an FCA Spokesperson who told me that there is no proof to any part of this story. Unfortunately, some of the people who believe this story in the first place will insist that Chrysler just doesn’t want to admit their mistake, so there are a few other reasons why this story simply cannot be true.

First, pre-production 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat models would not have a normal VIN number, as pre-production cars are used for on-road testing and these vehicles cannot be sold to the general public. In exchange for being permitted to drive pre-production cars on the open road before EPA or crash test certifications have been fulfilled, these cars can only be registered to the automaker and they cannot be sold to the public.

Second, even if the automaker was permitted to sell a pre-production car when they were done with it, the car in question certainly wouldn’t have been sold as new through a dealership. Cars that are sold new by dealerships come from the Brampton Ontario Assembly Plant while the pre-production cars would have been kept in a variety of corporate locations – none of which are the plant in Canada. Also, pre-production cars are badly beaten during the testing process so it would be near impossible to pass off a test car as a new vehicle.

Next, this Hellcat Challenger has the Hellcat logo on the front fenders while pre-production cars all had the “Supercharged” logo on the front fenders. The Hellcat logo wasn’t introduced until the debut of the Charger Hellcat and with the popularity of the Hellcat logo, Chrysler made a last minute decision to swap out the Supercharged badge for the Hellcat image. For any pre-production car to have this badge, someone from the company would have had to remove the old badge and apply the Hellcat logo, and this process would certainly come with some question as to why this was being done.

Finally, Chrysler didn’t build any 825 horsepower Hellcat Challengers. Chrysler engineers have been quoted as saying that during internal testing the engine was pushed up to 825 horsepower, but that wasn’t with production components. Instead, these numbers were reached with unique components during emission testing to see how different items impacted performance and emission levels. The Hellcat Hemi made 825 horsepower during internal testing, but the company didn’t build a pre-production fleet of 8 cars with any more horsepower than the rest of the supercharged Challengers built for early media testing.

Stop spreading stupid stories, people. It is literally impossible for an automaker to accidentally send out a pre-production Dodge Challenger Hellcat (or any other pre-production vehicle) due to the modern VIN system and after seeing the beatings pre-production cars took first-hand, it would be impossible to sell one of these cars as new without significant repairs and that lengthy repair process would make it that much more unlikely for the company to lose track and ship the car to a customer.


Jeff (not verified)    January 17, 2015 - 7:15AM

the headlamp not worked correctly is another red flag as the hellcat headlamp works exactly the same as a none hellcat light and the part the is open on the hellcat is only a plastic fake front that all other lights have installed but the hellcat one doesn't. So just by this account the story is fake

Trey (not verified)    January 17, 2015 - 11:23AM

at no point was it claimed this car was privately owned. In fact it was in possession of a rep from a Chrysler subsidiary in Texas. It is not registered and still retains Michigan manufacturer plate 033-008. This car was in the service bay at a highly reputable Dallas dealer awaiting detuning and further directions from corporate. The service manager that provided the info about the car is one of their best, and there is no reason to doubt him. As far as the fender tag, it's not unreasonable to think it had been swapped as they are only taped on. Despite your contact at Chrysler, there was an S storm regarding the whereabouts of this car.

Trey (not verified)    January 29, 2015 - 8:05PM

Was just back at dealer for more service. Car is still there in the service bay. Got vin: 2C3CDZC90FH500359. There is another sticker near vin that read PD5-034 for whatever that means.

Daryl Boechler (not verified)    March 30, 2015 - 4:52PM

That vin is absolutely one of 106 preproduction test cars built and it was built in April of 2014. Some were built as early as 2013. The fh500xxx is different than the production cars that are fh700xxx. Lots of them do tours to the technical training facilities all over North America. They are typically crushed after the course has had enough techs go through it. Some are stripped of parts for training.

Trey (not verified)    March 31, 2015 - 10:56PM

Thanks Daryl, I do believe that info gives provenance to the validly of this car and the service managers accounting of it's history.

Kevin Kammis (not verified)    July 2, 2015 - 10:44PM

Who ever wrote this story needs to get new contacts at chrysler that vin totally checked out and matches the color in the pic.

Roger Timberlake (not verified)    August 5, 2018 - 5:44PM

August 3, 2018. Michigan Plates 033-008 & 033-012 along with at least one more of the cars were driving on Maine State Route 25. All Dodge's appearing to be the same year and model with 2 piece stripes (approximately 1 foot wide each) from rear bumper forward. 012 was burning something in addition to normal service station fuel. They opened it up for about 200 feet with considerable smoke (not blue). I was traveling with the group for about 25 miles. Big improvement from my Father's 1949 Dodge which he gave me in 1954.