Originally published July 15, 2016 on autoTRADER.ca
The most American car in the history of American cars – is not actually American. In fact, the most impolite, violent, offensive, glorious piece of Bald Eagle majesty and balls-out imprudence, well, it’s Canadian.
2016 Dodge Challenger and 2016 Dodge Charger Hellcat twins are 707 hp (soon to be 750 hp – because awesome) weapons of mass indulgence. The retro looks, massive exterior, tiny interior and frankly stupid power levels are all wrapped up in a sub-$70K bundle for our mass consumption and enjoyment.The
And it is built by a bunch of maple-syrup-drinking, plaid-shirt-wearing, sorry-saying snow warriors from the Great White North.
One of them, by the way, is my father-in-law.
The unassuming plant the Hellcat (and all the other Challengers and Chargers plus some Chrysler 300c but who cares about them anyway – they are not Hellcats) is built in is nestled north of Toronto in the suburb of Brampton. It sits over 269 acres and employs around 3,500 people working two shifts a day for six days a week churning out a car so American a Bald Eagle is born every time one fires up for the first time.
We went on a guided tour of the Brampton plant – a factory that, following the Chrysler group merger with Fiat, has become one of FCA’s best regarded – to see the birth of a baby Hellcat with our own eyes.
When a rock and some other rocks really love each other, and they contain certain elements we mash them up really good and roll them into sheets of metal. Metal that is then used to build car parts.
Those rolls of metal get fed through massive die machines and come out the other side as doors, bonnets, hood lids and the like.
Self-driving robots pootle around the factory floor ferrying parts to and fro, they’re all stored on electrically controlled automated racks before heading over for use. There are 2,944 bays and over 43 different types of racks storing around two days’ worth of parts for use elsewhere in the plant.
Robots with Fricking LASERS!
The cars begin to take shape when automated welding robots take the chassis panels (stamped elsewhere and shipped into Brampton) and place them with the help of LASER and mechanical guidance, then fasten them with adhesives and welding. There are 581 robots in the plant.
Doors are put on for painting, and then removed again as the car makes its way back down the line. There are 20 colour options, 9 interior options and 10 striping options all available out of this plant.