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July Hellcat of the Month: The Epling Garage 007 Challenger

The July 2018 Hellcat of the Month as picked by the members of the SRT Hellcat and Demon Facebook Group is the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat shown above, owned by Leon Epling and raced by his son, Jason – making this Mopar muscle car a family affair.

Over the course of the past two years, TorqueNews has worked with the members of the SRT Hellcat & Demon Group on Facebook to choose the Hellcat of the Month. The members – numbering nearly 18,000 – are asked to nominate five Hellcat cars that are owned by active members of the online community. Once those five Hellcat cars are chosen, the members are asked to vote on their favorite car of the five in the running.

In July, we focused on the Challenger and of the five nominations, the Epling Garage car pulled down 51% of the votes while the second place car received just 22% of the votes.

Some of you might have immediately noticed that we are discussing the July 2018 Hellcat of the Month even though it is August. When Epling Garage guys were busy getting their new setup into the car late last month when I reached out to them and when Leon got me the information, I was on the road for the Redeye first drive. In other words, we are running a bit behind schedule, but that doesn’t make this Challenger any less impressive.

In fact, this is one of the most impressive Hellcat cars in the world – currently holding the record for the quickest quarter mile time by a Hellcat car and the quickest quarter mile time by a Hellcat car with a manual transmission.

Epling 007 Challenger
If you follow the progression of Hellcat quarter mile records, you likely recognize the Epling Garage 007 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. Leon and Jason Epling has set and reset the world record for the quickest Hellcat car a handful of times and right now, their 8.71 at 157 miles per hour is the standard Hellcat quarter mile record.

When that record was set, this Challenger was still running a stock displacement 6.2-liter Hellcat Hemi with a stock bottom end, stock camshaft and stock supercharger assembly. The team added a smaller upper pulley, larger fuel injectors, a higher volume fuel pump and a nitrous setup to make the power needed to run in the 8s, with help from the tuning master Tim Barth. In addition to the extra power, that 8.71 run was made with a race-ready 6-speed manual transmission from Liberty, a pro stock style clutch, a one-piece steel driveshaft, a Driveshaft Shop 9-inch rear differential, 35-spline axles, a custom coilover suspension setup and 15-inch wheels wrapped in 29-inch Hoosier slicks.

This year, the team hasn’t set any new records yet, but the changes made over the past few months will almost certainly lead to new, lower ETs for the 007 Hellcat.

The stock Hellcat Hemi is gone and in its place is a Epling/Hensley-built 426 cubic inch modern Hemi with a billet crankshaft and an array of lightweight, forged internals. A set of ThiTek cylinder heads are mated up to a massive Kenne Bell 4.9-liter supercharger while a high volume fuel system helps to feed the hungry Hemi. Of course, this new engine was also tuned by Tim Barth and all of that power is still sent to the rear wheels by means of the Liberty manual gearbox.

In addition to the new engine, the Epling Garage Hellcat Challenger also received a new suspension setup over the winter, scrapping the modified stock setup for a layout that is nearly identical to the suspension setup in the Dodge Challenger Drag Pak.

With the new power and the new suspension setup, we are likely to feature the Epling Garage Dodge Challenger when the car sets another world record, but in the meantime, congratulations to Leon and Jason Epling for having their wicked 007 Hellcat chosen as the Hellcat of the Month for July 2018.