I was disappointed when I drove the 2016 Dodge Challenger Hellcat, but I want to make clear that it was the circumstances of the drive — 30 minutes on public roads — that were disappointing. I wish I had the time and the space to wring it out. But the car itself is fantastic, and without a reasonable doubt the most insane thing I’ve ever driven.
Here was my “ah-ha moment:” five minutes into the drive, at a stop sign without a single soul around me, I pinned the throttle and dumped the clutch. The wheels spun, the ass of the car slid, smoke billowed and the car rocketed forward. Remember that scene from Breaking Bad where Walter White does donuts behind the wheel of a Challenger in an abandoned parking lot, then proceeds to blow it up? This car encourages that kind of behavior (sans explosion).
The Hellcat conflicted with my pragmatic driving ethos, a firmly held belief that a good car should not have to be recklessly handled to be fun. Even so, I’m glad it exists. How often does a product convincingly challenge your core values?
Would I ever buy one? Fuck no. But for a brief moment I understood the virtues of power and excess. In that moment I broke bad.