We were definitely rock stars at the 20th edition of the Dream Cruise.

The yell came from somewhere in the crowd: "Hey Hellcat, push it!" We obliged with a jab of the throttle, and the 707 horses of the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat roared to life. It went on like this. All weekend. It's one thing to attend the Woodward Dream Cruise, it's quite another to star in it.

We were definitely rock stars at the 20th edition of the Dream Cruise, metro Detroit's annual summer car show that rolls up and down the area's iconic strip, Woodward Avenue. Chrysler tossed us the keys to its latest muscle coupe a few days before the cruise with the suggestion: "Have fun." Hmm, okay, think we can handle that. And with a vague game plan of burning as much fuel as possible, we hit the road.

Thursday night was a bit of a dry run – or so we thought. The idea was to get used to the Hellcat's heavy clutch in traffic, gun the engine a few times and head home. But the Dodge commanded immediate attention from the moment we pulled onto Woodward.
It was a nice August night, which meant the windows stayed down, allowing for easy conversations. A cruiser in what looked to be a 1990s Chevy pulled alongside and asked, "Excuse me, is that the Hellcat?" We confirmed his suspicions. He clapped his hands. We punched the throttle and moved on.

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Engine Sound | Autoblog Short Cuts

A million enthusiasts show up to gawk at the sheetmetal and lap the avenue in every kind of car you can imagine.

It continued like that. Someone in another Challenger gave us the "rock out" sign. A dude in a BMW M5 serenaded "Hellll-cat" from the left lane. Two guys in a Jaguar F-Type caught up to us near the Detroit Zoo, and wanted to know how much the Hellcat cost. When told it was about $61,000 – about the starting price as his Jag – he immediately said he wanted to get one, even though he admitted, "I'll lose my license." The attention continued all weekend. On Friday night a guy gave us an "I am not worthy" bow, and we attracted stares at almost every stoplight.

Finally, Dream Cruise day arrived. We got up early (for a Saturday) to get the Hellcat out on the avenue for some actual cruising on the unseasonably cool and clear morning. It was a good time to stretch out the Hellcat, as traffic moved and we could take off with energy in the lower gears. The sounds the Hellcat made were intoxicating. It rumbles and growls. There's bass. A whine announced the supercharger's presence and then the V8 opens up to a flat-out howl. The exhaust cackles. Modern engines sound great, but the Hellcat has an old-school anger. Hear it for yourself in the Autoblog Short Cut video above, from Seyth Miersma's first drive in the Hellcat.

The emphasis is always on American iron, especially cars with tall fins and rippling muscles, but the Woodward Dream Cruise is truly an eclectic event: Everything from Teslas to Ferraris to Lotuses can be seen, not to mention custom cars, rat-rods and other oddities. One guy even drove up and down the strip in a car shaped like a skull.

And in this sea of rolling car pornography, the Hellcat still managed to stand out, even though our tester didn't say Hellcat anywhere on it. Yes, it had 20-inch matte black wheels, a big rear spoiler, a functional hood scoop and a menacing front splitter, all set against a brilliant shade of reddish-orange paint, yet there was nothing to really distinguish it from any other loaded-up Challenger. The test car that Chrysler gave us was so new it hadn't been fitted with the new Hellcat badge, which will replace the "supercharged" lettering on the front quarter panels that's being used on prototypes.

Dodge Challenger Hellcat
Dodge Challenger HellcatDodge Challenger Hellcat

It's marketing through horsepower, and as enthusiasts, that's a strategy we can embrace.

It didn't matter. People knew. CEO Tim Kuniskis said Dodge was the most searched auto brand on Google in July, and something tells us that Hellcat had something to do with it. People knew the name, and they knew what it meant. A Porsche 911 driver maneuvered along our right side, asked about our ride, and after a short, low-speed banter, concluded that his 911 "cost more, but that's [the Hellcat] got a bigger engine."

There were some skeptics, naturally. A man in a souped-up Ford Mustang wanted to know, "is it really all that?" Judging by the number of Cobra badges on his car and other mods, Dodge wasn't going to win him over even if the thing had 2,000 hp.

On the other end of the spectrum, we talked to Chris Haney, owner of a 1969 Plymouth GTX that he salvaged out of a field in Pinckney, MI. He looked over the Hellcat and noted, "700 horses is good. Nothing wrong with 700 horses. It's a sharp-looking car, no doubt about it."

Obviously he's a Mopar loyalist, but Haney summed up the general feeling of the crowd. Bringing a roided-up Challenger to an event in Detroit where Chrysler employs thousands was going to get a bigger reception than say, Pebble Beach, but the Dream Cruise has become major event with national visibility. And all of those fawning fans couldn't have been Chrysler employees. Visibility is what the Hellcat is all about. Chrysler wants it to create a buzz, turn heads and make people talk about the Dodge brand. It's marketing through horsepower, and as enthusiasts, that's a strategy we can embrace.


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  • 24 Comments
      Jacel
      • 4 Months Ago

      Chrysler really hit the magic number with this challenger.... 707HP is the answer to everything...

      Good on gas? 707

      As big as a school bus can it get up and go? 707

      The camaro and Mustang as more nimble? 707

      I love it!!! Instant classic I hope people pick it up for non-markups.

      Jeff
      • 4 Months Ago

      I believe I saw this on Saturday during the cruise, but didn't realize it was the Hellcat till seeing these pictures now.  Doh! 

      jphyundai
      • 4 Months Ago

      This is the way to sell cars and make money. Everybody wants one whether they will admit it or not. 

      jphyundai
      • 4 Months Ago
      This car makes me want even a V6 Challenger. Just because I could live it up Walter Mitty style. I am sure that many 6 cylinder Biscaynes were sold because of the mighty 409. Many 318 Satellites were sold because of 426 Hemi Roadrunners. People want to connect with excitement. Generally people live dull lives and find their excitement in the drive to and from work.
      superchan7
      • 4 Months Ago
      People will scream and shout that this is about the horsepower, 700 this and 700 that.  But under the surface, this is about Chrysler putting out cars that Americans can be proud of.  The styling updates and vastly improved interior make this a no-excuses car.  This is a true muscle car of the modern era, with insane HP and an interior that doesn't scream 2002.

      The Hellcat is definitely not something I aspire to own, but I am very impressed anyway.
      Card13
      • 4 Months Ago

      Between the headquarters, plants, and dealerships, I kinda wonder how many people each of the automakers employ in the Detroit metro area. I would guess there are easily 100,000 who are directly employed between the Three, not including suppliers and such.  

        Alfonso T. Alvarez
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Card13

        Dealership employees are not employed by the automakers - it would seem most people should know this.

        Dealerships also tend to have groups of stores with different brands and people transfer among them as they move up to higher level positions.

      Teleny411
      • 4 Months Ago

      I am not a big fan of muscle cars, but understand their appeal.  The big 3 (Mustang, Camaro & Challenger) are all looking great right now.   But I am a bit worried about 707hp getting in the wrong hands.  A few high profile Hellcat wrecks & we could have trouble from the gov, insurance companies, etc.  To those who buy one, please have fun, but drive responsibly on the public roads.   

      Dub
      • 4 Months Ago

      Love the Challenger, hate the Charger version.

        carguy1701
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Dub

        I thought you hated American cars. What's wrong with the Charger Hellcat?

      Sergey R
      • 4 Months Ago

      This car is huge. Every time I see a Challenger in our garage I feel like it'a a van, not a coupe. I like classic muscle cars more - those were not looking like behemoths. Though I find this HP war really interesting, coz I expect other brands to issue more powerful versions of their cars too.

        Chris Barbieri
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Sergey R

        What? Many of the classic muscle cars were just as big, maybe not as tall, but as big, or bigger in every other way. Look at the 66-67' Chevelle, 66-67'GTO, or  68'-70' Charger. The Chargers of the day were 208 inches long which is a good bit larger than the full size sedan that is the current Charger. 

        Chris Barbieri
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Sergey R

        The car may be huge, by today's standards, but that doesn't seem to stop it from doing 11.6s in the 1/4 mile at 126 mph, or going from 0 to 60 in 3.6 seconds. I don't care how anyone tries to spin it as that's pretty impressive for any performance car. 


        You talk about how much you love the old muscle cars. Well, this my friend is about the closest one can find in 2014 to one of those old classics. Everything else that one may cross shop with this either has a back seat that would be too cramped for anyone over the age of 12, or has 4 doors. 

        John Spatz
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Sergey R

        A van?  Really?  Try to be a little less ridiculous with your analogies.   Yes, its a big car, and a big coupe, but that is part of the cars charm.

          Sergey R
          • 4 Months Ago
          @John Spatz

          It seems that it has same dimensions like that S-Class parked near it. Look at it's rear fenders - they are very toll. I prefer Mustang. And maybe it's not a correct comparison, but everybody whom I discussed that car agree that it looks too big. IMO, I prefer old classic muscle cars.. F* that safety standards! The side windows should look like windows, not like a tiny holes. It's not a tank.

        ReTired
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Sergey R

        Not much different than a 1970 model in size - 5½" longer, 0.4" narrower, 6" longer WB. The BIG visual difference is Height - 6.1" higher, combined with the lower ratio of greenhouse height to body...still hardly a "Van".

      Revis Goodworth
      • 4 Months Ago

      Gotta love Detroit iron with rear wheel drive and V-8 engines.   Each company should build one just to keep the V-8 burble on the road.   What Cadihack does is disgraceful - building rear wheel drive products that advance nothing other than a marketing gimmick - it would be one thing if the vehicles were great, but unless you are willing to find a coach builder and an interior designer, the rest of the car is garbage.

      ju_mi
      • 4 Months Ago

      What is the gasoline consumption for this car?

      johnnyhedwardsjr
      • 4 Months Ago

      The Viper should have been 800 hp.  Apparently that would have helped sales.

        Cory Stansbury
        • 4 Months Ago
        @johnnyhedwardsjr

        http://horsepowerkings.com/reports-are-coming-in-saying-supercharged-v10s-have-been-delivered-to-chrysler-viper-update-coming/

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