The 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat has been making waves among muscle car fans around the world. This is certainly no surprise, given that tremors from its 707-hp supercharged Hemi V-8 can be felt from across the continent.
While the “most powerful muscle car of all time” title is certainly something to be proud of, Dodge is no stranger to high horsepower and blistering speed. Over its 100 year history, Dodge has put out some of the most memorable performance cars ever seen, and some of the most underappreciated.
Join us as we take a look back at ten of the most iconic Dodge performance cars of all time.
1968 Dart GTS 440
We begin our journey back with one of the earliest and greatest “sleeper” cars, the 1968 Dart GTS with a 440-cubic-inch “Magnum” V-8. The Dart GTS was available with three engines of varying size, and each was a worthy addition to Dodge’s “Scat Pack,” but the 440 was about as close as you can get to a road legal drag car. With 375-hp and 480 lb.-ft. of torque (both likely underrated for insurance reasons), the GTS 440 was capable of 60-mph in only 5 seconds and a quarter mile time of 13.3 seconds at 107-mph. That’s one seriously speedy sleeper!
1969 Coronet Super Bee Six Pack
The Coronet Super Bee of the late 60s is an icon on its own, but the engineers at Dodge decided to let themselves loose with the age old horsepower-boosting method of increased carburetion. Instead of the standard Carter quad on the 440 Magnum V-8, they fitted three Holley two-barrels on an Edelbrock manifold, hence the name “Six Pack.” This boosted engine output to 390-hp and a whopping 490 lb.-ft. of torque! While the Six Pack was slightly outperformed by the Hemi Super Bee, the lighter engine and Hemi-grade suspension made them surprisingly good handlers, not to mention an incredible value sitting at the bottom of Dodge’s model range.
1970 Charger R/T Hemi
Are there any terms more frequently associated with Dodge than “Charger,” “R/T,” and “Hemi?” The Charger defined big American muscle in the late 60s, and the final year of its run as a true bruiser is certainly its best. The 1970 Charger R/T housed the same familiar 426 Hemi V-8 as the years before, putting out 425-hp and 490 lb.-ft. of torque (though many say it was closer to 500-hp). New for 1970, however, was the Charger’s best styling to date, featuring a chrome loop front bumper and the ultra-cool full-width tail lamp housing. The color selections got a refresh too, featuring standout shades like “Plum Crazy” and “Go, ManGo!” to appeal to a younger crowd. Having dominated throughout the 60s, the Charger reached its high point just before the turn of the decade.
1970 Challenger T/A
While the Charger may have been Dodge’s boulevard bruiser, the Challenger was its all-star athlete, and no Challenger was more race-ready than the 1970 T/A. To comply with the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) homologation rules, Dodge built 2,539 Challenger T/As for the street that were even more insane than their race-ready brethren. With Dodge’s now-famous “Six Pack” carburetion, the Challenger’s 340 V-8 put out 290-hp, but true output was closer to 350. While this may not sound like much in comparison to its big block siblings, the T/A could still post quarter mile times in the mid 14-second range, and would out-handle many cars of its day with a modified suspension and disc brakes. Finished in Dodge’s wide array of eye-catching colors and graphics, the Challenger T/A was a real standout in the pony car stable.
1986 Shelby Omni GLH-S
You may have noticed the large gap in years between this entry and the previous, and that is not without reason. Throughout the 70s, higher-than-ever gas prices and a focus on fuel economy and comfort turned many American manufacturers away from horsepower and raw speed, Dodge included. But in the mid-80s, during a partnership with racing legend Carroll Shelby, Dodge put out a range of Shelby-badged models, the finest of which was the Shelby Omni GLH-S. With a 2.2-liter turbocharged inline-4 making 175-hp and 175 lb.-ft. and capable of 0-60 in less than 7 seconds, the Omni “Goes Like Hell, S’more” is Dodge’s first and only true hot hatch. When it was new it could go toe-to-toe with many outright sports cars.
1992 Viper RT/10
When the Viper debuted in 1992, it made waves in the media with its bold and brash styling that was almost identical to the concept car that preceded it. Couple those looks with an almighty 8.0-liter V-10 from Dodge’s Ram trucks division, and the Viper was more than a handful. With 400-hp and 465 lb.-ft., the Viper proved to be a seriously scary ride for even the most experienced of drivers, and a super short list of amenities made it one of the most intense set of wheels money could buy. Sold without a roof, side windows, or air conditioning, and lacking traction control or ABS, only the brave dared to get behind the wheel of Dodge’s deadly snake.
2004 Neon SRT-4
You may be wondering why an economy car is included in the same list as so many muscular icons, but the Neon SRT-4 would laugh all the way past you to a quarter mile time of 14.2 seconds. Dodge’s mini-mite was equipped with a 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 capable of 230-hp and 250 lb.-ft. in the 2004 and 2005 model years. This made it a class-leader in the economy car segment in terms of speed and power, and would even give many of today’s hot hatches and sport coupes a run for their money. In fact, upon its introduction in 2003, it was the second-fastest production vehicle in Dodge’s lineup, trailing only the Viper.
2006 Charger SRT-8
In 2006, Dodge resurrected the all-important Charger name in an effort to return to its muscle car roots, but much to the chagrin of Mopar enthusiasts, it was only available in sedan form. These same enthusiasts perked up when they found out that there would be a Hemi-powered SRT-8 version, and they had good reason to celebrate. Dodge’s top-tier Charger was available with a 6.1-liter Hemi V-8 producing 425-hp and 420 lb.-ft. of torque, and could be had in a variety of retro colors, including Go ManGo! and TorRed. It was a true throwback to the good-ol’-days and paved the way for Dodge’s current stable of high-octane thrillers.
2013 SRT Viper
After briefly killing off the Viper, Dodge brought its beloved snake back to life for 2013. No longer a punishing and raucous man-eater (mostly), the all-new Viper was meant to appeal to a wider range of sports car shoppers. Don’t think for a minute that Dodge’s super snake had gone soft, though, because the Viper contains the largest displacement production engine of any car, with a fire-breathing 8.4-liter V-10 under the hood. Making 640-hp and 600 lb.-ft. of torque and capable of over 200-mph, the Viper was Dodge’s most powerful car of all time. That is, of course, until a certain “challenger” arrived to steal that title.
2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat
At this point, there may not be much that you don’t know about the Hellcat, but it still deserves recognition on this list as the cream-of-the-crop of Dodge performance. With an astonishing 707-hp, a (limited) top speed of 199-mph, and two keys to prevent full usage of its power at all times, the Challenger Hellcat is the most extreme muscle car ever made, by far. We recently had a go in one, and despite its immense weight and horsepower figures, it’s quite capable in the corners as well. With the 2015 Hellcat causing such a splash in the muscle car world, it’s safe to say that for Dodge, the glory days have returned at full throttle.