Australian car market: Car sales, statistics and figures
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The cars many V8 enthusiasts hold up being responsible for kicking the recent muscle car war into high gear is Dodge’s SRT Hellcat range.
First shown in August 2014, the Hellcat badge represented a high-performance variant of the SRT Challenger and Charger muscle cars, along with the Jeep Cherokee Trackhawk, which joined the line-up in 2018.
Producing a monstrous 527kW (707hp) from a 6.2-litre Hemi V8 wearing a fat 2.3-litre twin-rotor intercooled supercharger, the Hellcats were the most powerful Chrysler production vehicles ever built and the most powerful muscle cars of all time until Chrysler brought out the race-tuned 626kW (840hp) Demon sibling in 2018.
While Chrysler has enjoyed a resurgence in Australia over the last decade, we missed out on the go-fast Challenger and Charger models as these platforms are not built in right-hand-drive format. We did get a limited number of Jeep Trackhawk models, but for some people a 2.4-tonne SUV is the antithesis of a proper muscle car.
The supercharged Hemi models started at US$60,990 (nearly $87,000 Aussie pesos) at their launch, but the Dodge Hellcat price was well over $200,000 once they’d been imported to Australia and put through a rigorous compliance programme. The cost of this work ran into the tens of thousands of dollars and, with their rarity and popularity, this drove local prices up.
While Chrysler caught Ford and General Motors napping off the line, both manufacturers have hit back with their own bombastic muscle cars packing over 485kW (650hp) and plenty of flat-out racing smarts like variable-ratio oil pumps, intercooled superchargers, and magnetic ride control dampers. The Shelby GT500 Mustang and Camaro ZL1-1LE both showed Hellcats a clean set of heels around race tracks as the Hellcats cannot get away from their heavy, ponderous underpinnings that date back to 2005!
Although many tag 2020 as the era of Tesla and electric vehicles, the positive reviews from media and owners pushed Dodge to keep developing the big supercharged V8 Hellcats to include the monstrous limited-edition 626kW (840hp) Demon model (which can run the quarter-mile in single-digit times!), the Jeep Trackhawk SUV, and the new “Redeye” Hellcat models which use some of the parts from the Demon to produce a staggering 594kW (797hp).
Dodge saw fit to equip the Redeye with wider guards and bigger wheels and tyres for more grip, upgraded differential and axles, as well as the Demon’s huge 2.7-litre supercharger that pushes more boosted air into the 6.2-litre V8. All that work means the SRT Hellcat Redeye edition is the fastest production muscle car ever produced, and this makes it incredibly sought-after.
All Demons have been sold, though there are already a handful in Australia for sale for anywhere between $300,000 and $400,000 as they’re considered to be modern classics. Hellcat Redeye models have started coming into Aussie shores, though these should price between a normal Challenger and a Demon as they start at almost US$71,000 in their homeland (before any expensive compliance work has to take place).
Thanks to Australia’s import laws, the best chance to own a Hellcat model is to buy one second-hand which has been imported into Australia and properly converted to right-hand drive by an authorised workshop. Any import car should have paperwork showing the import procedure was properly done, and the car had a legitimate title in the USA.
The Hellcats seem to be fairly reliable, though there are plenty which have been crashed as drivers can struggle to control over 700hp so it might pay to check the VIN (the car’s unique identity number) on the American CarFAX service to see if there had been any insurance claims or accident history in its past.