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Justifying the Dodge Challenger Hellcat as America's Most Powerful Ever

When it was announced last week that the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat would come with 707 horsepower and 650lb-ft of torque, I referred to it as the most powerful American production car of all time and after getting some feedback on that claim, I wanted to take a moment to justify why I believe that to be true.

When Chrysler made it official that the supercharged 6.2L Hemi in the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat would produce 707 horsepower and 650lb-ft of torque, the automaker proudly proclaimed that it was the most powerful American muscle car ever and the most powerful Chrysler Group vehicle ever. When I brought you the news of the Challenger’s incredible horsepower figures, I took the claim one step further by stating that it was the most powerful American production road car ever. I also pointed out that the Hellcat Challenger is the 6th most powerful production car in the world and based on my claims, I received a few comments and emails pointing out that there are quite a few vehicles sold in the US with more power.

Readers brought up cars like the Shelby 1000 Mustang and the Hennessey Venom GT as more powerful American cars along with other high performance tuning packages like the Super Snake GT500 that packs more power than the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. Those are good points, but I wanted to explain why those cars aren’t applicable in the conversation of America’s most powerful production car.

American Production Road Car Defined
When the term “production car” was first coined, it effectively replaced the term “mass produced” and the FIA considers a car to be a production car when there are at least 25 produced per year – while the Guinness Book of World Records people require 30 vehicles to be produced. As for a road car, it simply means that the vehicle is legal for road use in the United States. The 2015 Dodge Challenger is a full production models and the Hellcat is a trimline of that model so there is no question that it is a production model. However, based on those numeric requirements, the Hennessey Venom GT isn’t a production car as only 29 were built. Also, when you consider the fact that the Venom is a built on a Lotus body and chassis, it is hard to call it an American production car. It is street legal and with 1,244 horsepower, it is one nasty fast machine – but it’s far from a production car.

Why the Shelby Super-Stangs Don’t Count
Shelby American offers a handful of packages for the Ford Mustang that produce more than 707 horsepower – thus overpowering the 2015 Challenger Hellcat – but those are all post title tuning packages. Shelby American sells these high performance packages to GT500 owners in much the same way that tuning shops will offer thousand horsepower packages for the Hellcat Challenger. The Shelby 1000 and the GT500 Super Snake are modification packages with a widely recognized name so considering them would be no different than considering a vehicle built by your local racing shop.

Gallery of 2015 Dodge Challenger
The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
The 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT in the wild
Comparison gallery between the 2013 and 2015 Dodge Challenger
The 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker

Now, if Ford were to introduce a 2015 Mustang Shelby GT500 with a 725 horsepower engine, it would knock off the 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat since, like the Hellcat, the dealership-issued GT500 is a trimline of a production model. Whether it is a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, a Ford or a Chevy – production cars come from a dealership and not from a tuning shop.

The Past Most Powerful American Production Cars
Back in the glory days of the American muscle car, none of the automakers officially rated any normal production models over 500 horsepower so while it is widely expected that some Corvettes, some Mustangs, some Camaros and some Hemi Mopars offered far greater power than what the marketing material claimed – the modern American performance cars have been the most powerful in history. Before the Hellcat Challenger arrived, the 2014 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 was the most powerful American production car with 662 horsepower and before that Mustang, it was the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 with 638 horsepower. Prior to the ZR1, the Dodge Viper was the most powerful American production car with 600 horsepower – and the Viper has often been the most powerful American car available over the past two decades.

The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat raises the bar for power figures from American production cars and with a stunning number like 707 horsepower, Chrysler has laid down a very tough challenge for both General Motors and Ford Motor Company.

Here is your quick look at the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat launching on the drag strip


rdsOLDschool (not verified)    July 9, 2014 - 9:46PM

It's funny to me that you have to explain what a production is to some of your readers. I don't get how anybody who follows cars would not know this. LOL! Don't forget the most important claim of all from the CEO himself which he says that the Hellcat will be the "Fastest Production Muscle Car Ever! End of Story!" That's the real news that I am looking forward to seeing.

Patrick Rall    July 9, 2014 - 10:49PM

In reply to by rdsOLDschool (not verified)

The biggest complaint that I got was that I excluded the Hennessey Venom GT, which several people believed should meet the production requirements...but I refuse to consider a modified Lotus body and chassis with a heavily modified Corvette LS9 motor a production vehicle.

Will Wayne (not verified)    July 10, 2014 - 1:59PM

Consider also that the Hennessey Venom GT costs what - $1.25M?

The Hellcat should cost somewhere above $70k or so, prior to dealer markup of course.

mark stewart (not verified)    July 16, 2014 - 8:10PM

I drive a 2011 Challenger. My girl friend has a 2010. And both Launch off the line Way better than that video. Lol. Where'd they get that idiot driver at?? Lol.