Why Dodge‘s Hellcat engine makes 707 horsepower
Jaws collectively dropped when Dodge introduced the 707-horsepower Hellcat V8 engine. The Challenger Hellcat and the Charger Hellcat are widely considered the ultimate muscle cars, but the company has revealed that both models nearly landed with less power.
Chris Cowland, Fiat–Chrysler‘s director of advanced and SRT powertrains, initially asked for permission to build a 600-horsepower V8 engine, according to the Detroit Free Press. 600 horses was plenty, it’s a figure that would have made the Challenger Hellcat more powerful than its main rivals when it debuted, but Cowland changed his mind when he found out that the next-gen Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang could have over 600 horsepower under the hood.
He returned to FCA management and asked for permission to bump the new engine’s output up to 675 horsepower. Top brass agreed, though they didn’t give Cowland and his team additional time and they insisted that the V8 return the same fuel economy figures in spite of the 75 extra horses.
And while engineers accepted the challenge, Cowland and a handful of key people involved in designing the Hellcat decided to secretly turn the dial up to 11 and build an engine that tops the 700-horsepower mark. The new target was kept secret from many FCA workers, including parts of the product development team.
“We built it because we could. We wanted to make a statement and move the brand forward,” explained Cowland.
Photos by Drew Johnson.