SOME of the coolest cars out of Chrysler’s high-performance division changed the concept of performance cars, but it all came from fairly humble beginnings.
While the Chrysler Neon we got in Australia was a horrible, soggy mid-sized econobox that struggled to outrun its own shadow, Americans had the option of the SRT-4. This factory tuner special launched in 2004 with a 170kW turbocharged 2.4-litre four-banger driving through the front wheels, with beefed up suspension, a fat bodykit and upgraded interior to appeal to the youth market of the time.
While the 14.1-sec quarter-mile times might not blow any skirts up today, it worked a treat back in ’04. The fast Neon introduced a new generation to Mopars and SRT-4s have become a collector car in the US.
At the other end of the desirability spectrum, the Dodge Viper has always been a modern interpretation of the monstrous 427ci Shelby Cobra but the V10 Mopar’s track manners were refined to a point of excellence before it ended production in 2017. And this was best typified by SRT’s work with the Viper ACR.
Though its 8.4-litre (511ci) V10 made the same 481kW (645hp) output as other VX I-platform Vipers, the fifth-generation Viper ACR rewrote the rules on how hardcore track day cars could be when it launched in 2014. It had race car engineering like adjustable Bilstein suspension, bespoke carbon-ceramic Brembo brakes and Kumho Ecsta tyres, as well as a carbon-fibre bodykit that produced 680kg of downforce, or, with the Extreme Aero Package, a record-breaking 907kg of downforce. This allowed the 1556kg Viper to run the infamous Nürburgring racetrack in Germany in a crazy 7:01.30 lap.
In 2017, SRT broke the internet when it whipped the covers off the wildest road-going muscle car of the modern era: the Challenger Demon. Recalling the famous A-body muscle car, SRT juiced the Hellcat’s blown 6.2L Hemi up to 808hp, or 840hp on 100-octane (or higher) fuel, ripped out all the seats except for the driver’s, fitted drag radials, and sent it.
The Demon runs 0-100km/h in 2.3 seconds, with the quarter-mile dispatched in just 9.65@140mph. It was the first car sold with drag radial tyres, and SRT even slapped a transbrake into the ZF eight-speed auto for epic, wheels-up launches.
Although we Aussies are used to the concept of wonderfully overpowered commercial vehicles, the Dodge Ram SRT-10 took America by surprise when it was first unveiled in 2002. Packing the Viper’s 373kW (500hp) 8.3-litre (505ci) V10 into a single-cab Dodge Ram, it ran 13s on the quarter, which was damn impressive for a 2.3-tonne ute.
Dodge later even built a four-door quad-cab variant, which tipped in at over three tonnes, along with a limited run of special editions. The Ram SRT-10 was only in production for three years but it arguably set the scene for performance full-size trucks like the F150 Raptor and the new Ram Rebel TRX to come back.
New for 2021 is Dodge’s most hardcore Charger model, the 2021 Hellcat Redeye. Packing the same drivetrain as the Challenger Redeye, the supercharged 6.2-litre Hemi in the four-door makes 594kW (797hp), which is 67kW (90hp) more than the regular Hellcat.
The body has been widened three inches to hide the 20×11-inch rear wheels, it’s had the suspension beefed up and the rear end sent to the gym, with 41-spline HD driveshafts, along with various extra coolers for the engine and drivetrain. Standing quarter? Try 10.6@129mph!