Observations from driving a yellow widebody Dodge Challenger Hellcat


Gas mileage is awful. Around the city it’s in the single digits. On the highway you’ll crack double digits if you restrain yourself. You’ll actually laugh about that. Don’t expect more than 200 miles out of a tank. You’ll get asked about gas mileage.  
You’ll get all kinds of comments. Some women will question the size of your manhood. Many will compliment without even knowing what it is. Drunk bros will yell unintelligible things at you. Pictures, lots of pictures will be taken. Upon seeing it, many men in pickup trucks will question why they blew the same money on their fancy half-ton pickup.
The police will look at you more than anyone else. One cop will ask you to spin the tires – don’t. One will offer to preemptively write a ticket for a violation you’re bound to commit. Most will nod in approval. Few will roll their eyes or pretend to ignore. This one cop really should have pulled me over but didn’t. I don’t know why, but I’m glad he didn’t.
Kids will effing love the Hellcat. Several kindergartners will scream about an awesome yellow race car. Some will ask to sit inside. One will ask if it can transform into a robot. Another will question the choice of an automatic transmission – really.
Other drivers will be nice to you. They’ll let you merge. They won’t tailgate, as if they could, but not even in gridlock traffic. 
Everyone will understand you when you do something stupid. And everyone will expect you to do something stupid. Some will literally wait for you to do something stupid. Restrain yourself.


It’s loud. It’s loud at idle. It’s loud in casual driving. It’s loud on the highway. It’s really loud when accelerating. It’s loud inside. It’s loud outside. It’s loud in a tunnel. It’s loud a quarter mile behind. It’s loud.
Rain is not your friend. Stomp on the gas pedal at anywhere south of 60 miles per hour (I didn’t try at a faster speed) on a wet road and the tires will lose traction. And in sport mode, with the traction control somewhat limited, the rear-end will come out at 60mph. That sounds cool, and probably looks cool, but can be rather unexpected and somewhat scary, if not freakin’ hilarious.  
The traction and stability systems are your friends. Leave them on but adjust their settings. In sport mode, as opposed to track or street mode, you can look like a driving god and not embarrass yourself as the system will save your ass most of the time. The time it doesn’t save your ass is the time you were doing something amazingly dumb. Don’t be dumb. 

It’s big. The nose is long and the front is low. The doors are long. It’s really freakin’ wide. Tight parking spots are not your friends. Once you park and start walking away you won’t be able to resist looking back.
It’s addictive. The power. The noise. The grin-inducing acceleration. Buy a Hellcat and you’ll kick all your other addictions. You’ll just wanna go fast over and over again. Gun it, grin, and slow down. Gun in, grin, and slow down. You’ll have to slow down so often because the Hellcat gets to arresting speeds really effing fast.
Buy a yellow widebody Hellcat and your commute will never be boring. You’ll always be grinning. Therefore you’ll never be depressed again. You’ll take better care of yourself because everyone will be looking at you. Because of this, your partner will like you more and therefore you’ll get laid more. This will make you more confident. Therefore your boss will like you more, too. You’ll therefore be more successful and make more money. Buy a yellow widebody Hellcat. You’re welcome.

Relatively new option on Hellcats is the Demon-like widebody. Buff magazines say that the the wide body and the wider tires makes the Hellcat handle so, so much better. Then they justify their words by showing you a whole bunch of numbers that favor the widebody. I think that’s all bullshit.
The engine still totally overwhelms this new widebody at every tip of the throttle. Yes, in theory, on the track, with great a driver, the widebody Hellcat will be faster through a road course and even on a drag strip. But no one without a racing license, on the street, will see that difference. Opt for the widebody not for its performance but for its bad-ass look.

Disclaimer: Dodge provided this Hellcat for the purpose of me losing my license. They have almost succeeded. All images copyright Kamil Kaluski/Hooniverse 2018.

26 Comments

  1. On one hand, I’m glad the Hellcat and variants exist, but on the other, the performance gain over a Giulia FourCheese/M4/C63 (all of which cost about the same) is relatively minimal (although, for whatever reason, you can appear as of the people unlike the Euro iron).
    Then again, I’m also not sure it’s $20k better than a regular SRT.

  2. ” Another will question the choice of an automatic transmission – really.”
    I like that kid.

    1. If I was buying it… I kind of think the auto is the better choice. Other than shifting for the purpose of shifting, there is no real reason to get the stick.

      1. Having owned previously a 6-speed manual and now an 8-speed auto version of the 5.7L Challenger R/T, I unapologetically endorse the automatic 8-speed versus the manual 6-speed. There were a few specific situations where the manual car was more fun, but in general the automatic car has been more fun for me.

          1. I’ve had it happen at least twice:
            -going from the 2010 Challenger (manual) to the 2015 (automatic). The 2010 manual was just not good… the clutch was the worst part of the experience, the engagement point was unpredictably randomly somewhere in the middle of the pedal travel off the floor (with a week where it was 10-25% off the floor for some reason) and there were a few unpredictable times where it was still sufficiently engaged to make the car move though the pedal was fully depressed. Also the 1st and 2nd synchros were grumpy about doing their job if asked to work in such “extreme” scenarios as the transmission being cold-soaked overnight below about 50 degrees Fahrenheit (i.e. mid-September thru mid-May in my climate.) The 2015’s automatic is excellent for an automatic, rarely in the wrong gear and getting itself into the right gear faster than I would ever be, and doing its job predictably whether it’s -25F or +95F outside.
            -going from manual-transmission semi-tractors to one with an Eaton Ultrashift. The first time I drove my granddad’s Freightliner thus equipped it was *amazing* to have the transmission competently managing itself, letting me not to have to divide my attention between shifting and also watching how well I was keeping the trailer tandems on the road while turning out of the farmyard to go to the field where the combines were harvesting.

  3. That’s why the Hooniverse remains my favourite automobile space online. Relatable consumer advice.

          1. It comes equipped with two garter belts, so clearly the transformation is already starting!

        1. I’d hoped someone would pick up on that.
          Inasmuch as I’m still trying to assemble a working Variomatic for that car in time for next week’s Lemons rally, though, I am very much in the mood to advocate on behalf of manual transmissions.

          1. Just don’t try to fill the word “burnout” with a new meaning. Tires only.

  4. Very fun article to read.
    If I could justify the expense, I’d buy this not for the performance, but purely for the look and sound. But I would absolutely, most certainly, not buy yellow with black stripes. Michael Bay ruined me on that color scheme.

    1. Uhm, there will never be any justification for this particular expense. Such a purchase yells “Eff IT!” The person who owns such a car has chose NOT to be rational intentionally.

  5. >> Other drivers will be nice to you. They’ll let you merge. They won’t tailgate, as if they could, but not even in gridlock traffic. <<
    Sadly, around where I live, anyone owning a car like this drives like a total a-hole, cracking the throttle at every light, accelerating and riding up within inches of the car in front of them just to show off, tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic like they own a *real* "sports car"…it's a pathetic show of those lacking in the manhood department. About on par with the average urban redneck pickup truck drivers around here, sadly.

    1. Every now and again I’ll bicycle to work. One morning on the way in, an older gentleman in an F-Type droptop pulled up next to me at a signal, top down. When the light changed he lit up the tires for about half a block then sped into the distance….until he got stuck in a construction zone and the little bicycle caught up.
      After I delivered a terse apology about the size of his genitalia, we played a cat and mouse game for several miles. It seems that even with a 400hp roadster, you can’t average better than 15mph on the surface streets in the middle of Chicago.

  6. Girl: Questions my manhood. Me: Yeah, you’re right. Me: Wanna go for a ride? Girl: Ok. (sixty seconds later)Girl: Wanna get married?

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