HELLCATS AND HAND GRENADES—CAN DODGE’S MOUNTAIN MOTOR BE TRUSTED?

A half-century ago, America’s big three were locked in a horsepower war that produced some of today’s most sought-after classics. Today, history seems to be repeating itself, with heated competition not just from US marques, but around the world to see who can build the most effective tool for us to hurl our soft human frames into cars and inanimate objects before autonomous cars deprive us of that luxury.

Much like in the 60s and 70s, the team at MOPAR are very much in the fight, but they like to march to the beat of their own drum. Whether it was the Max Wedge, 440 Six-Pack or the 426 ‘Hemi, MOPAR rides were never short on motivation. That continues to be true today, and MOPAR’s latest mountain motor comes in the form of the 6.2-liter Hellcat, which achieves a heady 707 horsepower and 650 ft-lbs. with help from an IHI supercharger producing just under 12lbs. of boost.

hellcat
The Hellcat nestled underhood in a Challenger

Hella Reliable?

That’s a lot of Hellcat chutzpah! But the Hellcat isn’t just impressive for its high output, it’s impressive for offering such an output in a mass-production vehicle. You can buy a 700-horse supercar, just not for the price of a Dodge. The obvious question, then, is what’s different about this V8 that makes it such a great value?

The promise of big power at a great price has always been attractive to motorists, it just hasn’t always delivered the most reliable vehicles. Take for example the Mitsubishi 3000GT/Dodge Stealth twins of the 90s. In fairness to MOPAR, they were only half (ok perhaps slightly less than half) responsible for these cars.

Hellcats
Owners display their Hellcat-powered cars. Live it up…

Still, it’s a mass produced blown V8 with a 114 horsepower-per-liter specific output built by a company not revered for exceptional quality. So what are owners saying?

Driveline Doldrums

It’s important to remember that most Hellcat owners haven’t had their cars long enough to put miles on them. While engine issues haven’t been reported, some owners have cited the car’s rear end giving out very early in life. In Dodge’s defense, the right “driving style” can roast even the most robust hardware very quickly, and the Hellcat’s target audience probably practices that driving style more than most.

We can reasonably assume that this engine will hold up, even under a decent amount of abuse. After all, it’s not like the pushrod V8 is a new layout, the Hellcat is largely based on Chrysler’s 6.4-liter Hemi, which has performed amicably. 114 horsepower-per-liter is impressive in an atmospheric engine, but those are going the way of the dodo, and the Hellcat’s stout underpinnings should be up to the task unless used foolishly.

Buy it for Power, Sell it for Nothing

Unfortunately for Dodge, the same lackluster build quality that shows through in many of their products will inevitably cause the Hellcat’s soft underbelly of an interior to suffer from electronic failures that, when added to potential drivetrain issues, make these cars best to enjoy now, while they’re new.

It’s not the Hellcat’s fault that it’s been given and awkward dance partner in the Charger and Challenger platforms, but don’t hold your breath on resale value.

A decade from now these things are going to be in the hands of 16-year-olds fresh out of driver’s ed. Mom & Dad just couldn’t say no, and a car only has to run for a few minutes to ruin your whole week when Jr. exits the parking lot sideways.

The Guido

Sources:

http://www.allpar.com/mopar.html
http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2016/10/top-10-least-reliable-car-brands.html
https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/stealth-rt-twin-turbo/45357/page1/
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