The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and the Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang are both modern muscle cars, but they have very different purposes in the world. The Hellcat Challenger is the best handling of the Mopar muscle cars, but the supercharged beast is clearly more comfortable when going very fast in a straight line with 707 horsepower and 650lb-ft of torque. After all, it is the quickest stock American muscle car of all time in the quarter mile. On the other hand, the new Shelby GT350 Mustang is built to be the most road course capable muscle car of all time with the help of a flat plane, naturally aspirated V8 with 526hp and 429lb-ft of torque.
Based strictly on the power numbers, we would expect that the Hellcat Challenger would absolutely destroy the Shelby GT350 Mustang in a drag race, but we also need to take the weight of these two vehicles into account. The Hellcat Challenger with the 6-speed manual transmission weighs 4,449lbs without the driver while the GT350 weighs just 3,760lbs without a driver. Based on those two official company curb weight figures, the Challenger is 689lbs heavier, but it still has the advantage in power to weight ratio. The Challenger has 6.29 pounds per horsepower while the Mustang has to move 7.11 pounds per horsepower, so once again, the Mopar has the advantage.
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So in a head to head drag race, the Hellcat Challenger should embarrass the new Shelby GT350 Mustang, right?
Wrong – especially when the driver of the Hellcat doesn’t know how to gear through the gears – and that is why you run the race.
Hellcat VS GT350
The details on these two modern American muscle cars are a bit short, but we can tell that they are both fitted with a manual transmission and the description states that they are both stock. We can see that the Hellcat has a driver and passenger, but it is hard to tell whether the Mustang has a passenger, so the Dodge might be at an even bigger weight advantage. In any case, these two cars go from an arm drop and race down what looks to be a half mile dragstrip setup on a runway with a collection of cameras to catch the action from every angle.
The video jumps from camera to camera without any description as to exactly what are watching, but it looks like we get to watch 3 or 4 races between the Hellcat Challenger and the new Shelby GT350 Mustang. We see the first run from pretty much every camera angle, including on-board both cars, and on that first run we see the Hellcat Challenger knock out the Shelby Mustang. However, the race is a whole lot closer than many people would have expected and when we ride along with the Hellcat, we hear why the Challenger didn’t hand out a more severe beating.
After babying the Hellcat Challenger off of the line to avoid wheel spin, the driver shifts both 2nd and 3rd gear very early – effectively cutting the powerband of the blown Hemi by at least a third. As a result, the Challenger doesn’t have a chance to stretch its legs in the area where it shines the brightest. When the driver gets to 4th gear, he or she finally lets the engine rev as the Dodge pulls away just before the finish line for the win.
On the second run, the Hellcat driver eases away from the starting line and bogs the car hard, giving the Mustang a huge early advantage that he is unable to overcome with his questionable shifting practices. We don’t get to see this run from on-board with the Challenger, but you can definitely hear the car bog as he leaves the line. Meanwhile, the Mustang driver gets away from the line and up into the high RPMs well enough to squeak out a win. The third run goes the same way, with the Mustang hopping out to an early lead and the poorly driven Hellcat isn’t given a real chance to catch up.
Finally, on what appears to be the 4th run, the Hellcat Challenger gets away from the starting line well and the supercharged Mopar pulls away throughout the half mile race. In that final race, the Challenger hits the finish line at 147 miles per hour to the Mustang’s 142 miles per hour.
Why is the Hellcat Being Driven Soft?
I cannot explain why the Hellcat Challenger was being shifted the way that it was, but having had the pleasure of driving the manually shifted Hellcat cat on a road course as high speeds and high RPM – I know that the 707hp Challenger can put the power to the ground in 2nd and 3rd gear at high RPM. There is no need to shift this early and this is a great way to slow down the Hellcat Challenger. Some people suggest that this is how you have to drive the Hellcat with a manual transmission, but that simply isn’t the case. Others suggest that the Hellcat only sounds like it is being short shifted compared to the high revving flat plane Mustang V8, but we can clearly hear the engine rev much higher in 1st and 4th gears so this clearly isn’t a perception issue. The car is most certainly being shifted much earlier than it should be.
As was the case with the famous Tesla-Vs-Hellcat video a year ago, this video shows us how a bad driver can hand away a race to a slightly slower car. Fortunately, the Hellcat driver was able to put together two good runs to show that the Challenger is the quicker of the two.
Still, when the Hellcat Challenger is driven by someone who either doesn’t know how to drive or who is afraid of the power, a well driven Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang can squeak out a win in a long drag race. The Shelby GT350 might be built for road racing, but it is still a muscle car and it can still throw down on the drag strip. On paper, the Hellcat Challenger should have the advantage, but bench racing doesn’t factor in driver skill – this video does.