Review and photos by Jacob Black
He had barely driven 100 metres before I caught the grin on his face. Gingerly we’d driven out of his driveway, turning right into the darkened side street and straightening before he prodded the accelerator. He doesn’t say much, my father-in-law. He’s one of those classic, strong Canadian men with a quiet and calm demeanour.
Bill doesn’t need to say anything. His smile is proof positive that this car has him pleased. Bill is the sort of bloke who builds his own basement (yes, the whole thing) from scratch, has a decades-old rib rub recipe that makes grown men cry, and who will offer up the shirt off his back to help you. He’s as Canadian as they come. He’s also the man who built the doors in this Hellcat.
“It’ll have two keys and over 700 hp.”
“Sure Bill, sure it will,” I said.
I was a fool.My father-in-law is a long-time employee of Chrysler, where he works at the Brampton plant, putting together the doors that are bolted to Challengers, Chargers and 300s sold right around the world. It was he who first told me this ballistic edition of the Challenger was coming. “It’ll have two keys and over 700 hp,” he told me. “Sure Bill, sure it will,” I said. I was a fool.
Now, I was redeeming my ignorance by bringing my father-in-law a 2015 Challenger Hellcat to sample. It’s a travesty that the workers in that plant get only to build these cars – only a handful of his colleagues have actually driven one. I didn’t think I’d get to drive one either. Dodge has been protective of its press fleet (and particularly its tires), and my frequent, half-joking refrain of “Do. A. Skid!” had raised the eyebrows of the wary PR team.
Yet, here I was, reaching for the grab handle as my father in law slotted home third and hurtled us out onto the main road. That short drive was the best I’ve taken in all my time in this job. Bill’s eyes grew big as we walked out to the car, he paused to check out the air intake hidden inside the running light, opening the door a couple of times to see how it felt.
“Check out the interior quality – it’s way better than the last model” I said. Oh, wait. He knows that.
We didn’t say much as we drove. He showed me some quiet industrial roads – and then made them loud. He was surprised by how easy the Hellcat was to drive normally, and I agreed. As the drive went on, Bill’s confidence increased. He stabbed the loud pedal and the shrieking, supercharged, 6.2L hemi ignited under the hood, pinning us both back in our seats. “It’s fast,” he said with nonchalance. Classic Bill.
2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat SRT, headlight, engine bay, dashboard. Click image to enlarge
But the fuel gauge was running low, and time was running out. It was late, and the Brampton plant’s morning shift starts before dawn. These blokes work hard. As we neared the road that leads to his street I sensed Bill hesitate, “Once more around the block?” I asked.
“No, thank you. That’s okay.”