Smoke ‘em If You’ve Got ‘em
Many of you have heard by now that the fearsome Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat's historic run of awesomness is coming to an end. Some of our greatest Hellcat memories have taken place on the pavement of Savannah's Roebling Road Raceway, so where better to give this Hellcat a final shakedown before it evaporates into thins air like much of the tire smoke it has created over the years.
Dodge SRT Hellcats will always hold a special place in our collective hearts. And just looking at this 2023 Dodge Challenger Black Ghost has us contemplating making more questionable decisions than an episode of Breaking Bad.
It’s one of 7 special editions that Stellantis has planned as part of a celebratory last call for the Hellcat.
Time to pause for some background on where exactly the inspiration for this spectacularly spooky hot rod came from, which you may need unless you patrolled the late-night Detroit street-racing scene in the 1970s.
It was at that time, a certain Hemi-powered black Challenger with an alligator skin roof and white tail stripe would periodically appear to beat all takers, and then disappear into thin air just as quickly. With good reason; as legend has it, it was actually a Detroit police officer behind the wheel of what came to be known as the Black Ghost.
We got right into the “spirit” of things with some straight-line heroics of our own, with our Black Ghost hitting 60 in 3.9-seconds. Not the quickest Hellcat we’ve handled, but certainly right there in the ballpark.
Launching takes restraint of course, as with stock tires it’s essentially a constant search for grip for the bulk of the ¼-mile. But it’s just as fun as always, and a quick 11.8-second trip to 124 miles-per-hour. Available exclusively with Dodge’s TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic, means at least you don’t have to worry about shifting gears.
It’s doubtful the original Ghost’s mystery pilot ever had to deal with 807-horsepower, but we’re sure he would have managed just fine. That’s 10 more than the Redeye Widebody its based on. All coming from that infamous high output version of the Hemi Hellcat supercharged 6.2-liter V8; torque output remains at 707 lb-ft.
That need for restraint carries over to the full track at Roebling Road Raceway too, with all that power waiting to upset things in a hurry. But as we’ve come to learn, the Challenger’s chassis makes all that horsepower more controllable than overbearing. Great steering feel and weight, along with the very responsive throttle, are additional much appreciated factors in taming this beast too.
There is still a fair amount of body roll to contend with, and high-mounted seats that want to throw you out of the car more than snug you into it. But, somehow that just seems to add to the fun factor. It's all familiar Challenger inside, outfitted in black of course, with additions of a unique instrument panel, and dash logo.
Things are still relatively upscale feeling and very roomy compared to most muscle car rivals, with a nice mix of Alcantara leather and real carbon fiber materials.
In addition to a gator skin roof decal and white tail stripe, all Black Ghosts are fitted with 20-inch Satin Carbon Warp Speed wheels……Dodge lettering in front of the hood, hood pins, chrome fuel filler door, and historical Challenger script logos.
And just to put a bow on this Ghost tale, that original Black Ghost was indeed piloted by a police officer and Army vet Godfrey Qualls. And it turns out the car has remained in the Qualls family all these years, though that is about to change, as it is being put up for auction this spring.
No doubt it will cost much more than this current Black Ghost which stickers for $100,910. What you’re getting with the 2023 Dodge Challenger Black Ghost is much more than just a Challenger SRT Redeye Widebody Hellcat with a bit more horsepower. You’re getting a unique looking high-powered ride with a great story behind it and one that will possibly be a future collector’s item due to fact that just 300 of them are being produced.
The SRT Hellcat is indeed going away, and we’ll miss it for sure. But, at the same time, we feel the SRT Hellcat experiment has successfully run its course, proving that Americans can still make incredible muscle cars, and that Dodge can do it in a way that’s uniquely Dodge. Get them while you can.
Engine: 6.2L Supercharged V8
Torque: 707 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 3.9 seconds
1/4 Mile: 11.8 seconds at 125 mph