What Are The Best Mopar Muscle Cars?
Back in the day, there was a time when Mopar ruled supreme. In the early 60s, gearheads successfully raced cars such as the ‘64 Plymouth Sport Fury Max Wedge and modified 426 Hemi Chargers or RoadRunners. Never mind the 409 from Chevy or the Ford 427, the boys who drove Mopars were, more than usual, the winners of any competitive race. Racers named Prudhomme, Garlits, Sox, and Martin became rock legends. There is no question that Mopar flexed its muscle in the 60s and 70s, and now it's back.
2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Widebody Hellcat
When Dodge came out with the 2023 Challenger, they knew it would be the last performance of these ICE engines. (Dodge has already revealed the EV Charger concept vehicle, and we expect the Challenger to follow suit). In their defense, Dodge has done a masterful job of ensuring they are well represented in this last curtain call of Mopar ICE muscle.
The 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is blessed with a 717 hp 6.2 L V8 that also produces 650 ft-lb of torque (which means that it can move down the track at a neck-snapping speed). Recently, Car and Driver tested the ‘23 Challenger clocking a 3.6 second time for 0 - 60 mph and passing the quarter mile marker in 11.9 seconds @ 124 mph.
And if that wasn’t enough, you can opt for the Redeye package, which features a modified Hellcat engine producing even more horsepower (797 hp), or take the Redeye to the ultimate with the Jailbreak model and boost the power to an ungodly 807 hp. Coupled with a proven 8-speed automatic transmission, or the optional six or eight-speed manual, the power to the rear wheels will do more than make your torso plant into the seat. This car is fast enough to make your cheeks flap from the force of the wind rushing past your face.
With large 20” Pirelli tires, the car has excellent grip (although the gas pedal is pretty touchy, and if you don’t watch it, you can wear out a set before you know it). We were surprised to learn that the Hellcat engine had a cast iron body when almost everyone is going aluminum to displace weight, but then we thought, why not. The classic 426 Hemis all had cast iron blocks, and we felt this might be a nice homage back to the days.
2023 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Jailbreak
Okay, we admit it. Dodge has just done something incredible in 2023 with its Charger and Challenger lineup. This Dodge Charger has the same 6.2L V8 engine as its super-fast cousins, but with the Jailbreak feature, it produces a monstrous 807 hp and 707 ft-lb of torque. The 2023 Charger is a part of Dodge’s Last Call production (they stopped taking orders in May, so you’ve likely missed out on getting a new one).
This car is about speed, with a 3.5 second time for a 0 - 60 mph run and a quarter mile of 11.5 seconds @ 125 mph. (The top speed puts it on par with a Porsche Panamera or BMW M8) While the Charger seems like it would be too heavy (4,566 lbs), this widebody four-door sedan does more than scoot down the straight line. It blasts down the road like an F-15 with full afterburners.
The Charger won’t win any EPA mileage awards with its 12 mpg rating in the city, but if you’re using it for the strip, those figures matter little. However, the four-door sedan has enough room to be an average family hauler, so this car can provide the best of both worlds when you drive up to church in a muscle car that makes all the other deacons salivate and pray for forgiveness.
We suspect there will be a market for this speedy car in the months and years ahead, but as of now, Dodge will end any orders for the Charger by the end of July (which means it is too late to get a new one)..
2021 Dodge Challenger Super Stock
Dodge attempted to outdo themselves with the 2021 Dodge Challenger Super Stock, but the pandemic halted things. The 6.2L Hemi V8 is the standard engine, with a whopping 807 hp, and when tested by Motor Trend in 2022, the car put up some monster Mopar muscle. M/T ran the car against a 2018 Challenger Demon, and even though the car clicked off a 10.41 quarter (that wasn’t as good as the ‘18), it was still plenty fast. (The Demon had been modified with drag suspension, so we wondered if that couldn’t have accounted for the beating or if it could have something to do with the extra horsepower (840 hp) that the Demon’s engine makes).
The Super Stock is a beautiful-looking beast with its twin scoops on the hood and widebody stance. The fenders are flared to accommodate its 315drag-stylee tires (315/40R18). With the suspension also offered on the Hellcat Redeye, the car has Brembo brakes, a limited-slip differential, and a 3.09 final driver ratio. With different drive modes, including a Track option, and a full display screen, drivers had more information to maximize their car’s potential.
While the car was born to race, it was also an excellent daily driver. The scream of the supercharger adds some nice acoustics when the accelerator is pressed a bit, but the car stays centered, so it is the best of both worlds, a drag strip beast with a softer, more gentle side.
2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon
When Dodge brought the Demon Challenger on for 2018, the 6.2L V8 was a jaw-dropping engine that created buzz instantly. And when the Challenger went out to play, the 840 hp engine produced unbelievable tract times of 9.65 seconds in the quarter mile (not counting the 2.3 second 0 - 60 mph run). At the time, it was a record for the fastest-ever Challenger.
The same year, Ford engineers were extolling the new ‘18 MY Mustang GT with its under four second times, but put it up against the Demon, and the Mustang mouths suddenly stopped singing praises about their car. With a full 1.8 g’s of acceleration force, the Demon set the bar for American muscle cars. It was that special.
The 2018 Challenger SRT had a larger 2.7 turbocharger hooked to the Hemi engine and a new water-to-air intercooler system. The car set several production model firsts. The Challenger was the first factory-made car with Torque Reserve and Transbrake to help with launch force at the strip. Owners could even opt to delete the front passenger seat should they wish. Dodge only made 3300 units during the year.
Dodge tried to claim that the car was “too fast for the strip,” but that wasn’t exactly the case. While the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) indicated that the Challenger in its stock form could not be raced without modifications (like a roll cage), it never “officially” said that the car couldn’t be raced. When the folks at NHRA changed their rules in 2022, the street-legal version was allowed to compete.
2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170
When the 2018 Demon came out, company execs claimed that it would be the last Demon ever made, and that forced many Mopar maniacs to plop down their hard-earned money to get what they perceived would be the best performance vehicle ever made. Jump ahead a few years, and as you guessed, Dodge comes out with another Demon. (This time, Dodge says, it is the last call for both the Challenger and Charger).
The 6.2 L V8 supercharged Hemi is an internal combustion engine that produces 1025 hp and 945 lb-ft of torque. (The NHRA-certified time is 1.66 seconds for 0 - 60 and a sub-nine quarter mile (8.91 seconds @ 151.17 mph). When the car came out, many Mopar motorheads were asking themselves how such a car could even be legal, but surprisingly, it was.
The supercharger was increased to 3.0L and Dodge offered its second generation of Transbrake, to help boost acceleration. The car uses a recalibrated powertrain control module and fuel system to adjust to the amount of ethanol flowing through the engine. As the system reacts, it can unlock the full potential of the Challenger. Previous muscle cars had two keys, a black one for normal driving and a red one to unlock the high-powered muscle of the Hemi. The 2023 Demon only has one key - the red one.
Once again, Dodge limited the production to 3300 units (just like in 2018). Dodge began taking orders for the “Last Call” cars on March 27, 2023, and within 48 days, they were closing orders. (Recently, the last production Challenger was reserved for $700,000, and the money was donated to charity).