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Chrysler almost smothered the Hellcat before it lived

Thu, 06 Nov 2014 11:30:00 EST


Chrysler's 6.2-liter supercharged Hellcat V8 was an absolute sensation from the very moment it was announced, and honestly, how could it not have been? Packing 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, its numbers immediately put every other production muscle car (and many supercars) to shame. Plus, we soon learned that would be wrapped in a package retailing for around $60,000 – a pittance compared to other vehicles offering similar grunt. However, the Hellcat almost never got the chance to rumble under the hood of the Challenger and Charger.

The Hellcat was initially proposed back in 2011, back when Fiat was deciding its future strategy for Chrysler Group, according to Automotive News. At the time, the company was just emerging from its bankruptcy doldrums, and an ultra-high-performance V8 wasn't exactly a must-have item. The program didn't move forward. However, SRT engineers kept fighting, according to AN, and four months later, they received the green light to pull the project off the shelf and continue developing the Hellcat. The muscle car world is certainly better for that decision.

The work of those engineers focused on taking Chrysler's standard 6.2-liter V8 and making it reliably handle all of the extra power from the supercharger. "It came down to micron levels of changes in the crank to be able to withstand the pressures of the engine," said Chris Cowland, director of advanced and SRT powertrain, to Automotive News. The changes amounted to switching out about 91 percent of the parts to make the Hellcat, including some quite minuscule alterations. For example, the washer holding the supercharger pulley is embedded with industrial diamonds to keep it from slipping.

Dodge is hoping to get as many of Hellcats on the road as possible as rolling advertisements for the automaker's engineering prowess and attitude. The next time you see one thundering by, just remember that the project almost didn't happen.

By Chris Bruce


See also: Mopar maneuvers into SEMA with a multitude of modified models, Dodge Charger R/T NHRA Funny Car is ready to burn rubber at SEMA [w/video], 2015 Dodge Charger R/T NHRA Funny Car burns rubber into SEMA [w/video].