First came Hellcat, forever changing the gearhead meaning of the numbers “707.” Hellcat almost overshadowed what was arguably the more significant performance/value breakthrough—the 485hp Scat Pack Challenger and Charger. Nevertheless, it hasn’t escaped our attention, and we hope it won’t escape yours either.
We spent a week with this yellow screamer hitting all the local hot spots, including Bradenton Motorsports Park, home of the NMRA Spring Break Shootout. Our GT was equipped with the standard rear gear (not 3.73s) along with the Getrag MT-82 six-speed, and we ran the car 100 percent stock—so no drag radials or tune. Heck, we didn’t even cool the engine! Traction was good, but the temperature was 84 degrees with mild humidity—not mineshaft conditions, by any means, but not sweltering either. Based on our experience we were hoping to break in the 12s at about 110 mph.
With nearly half a century of history behind it, that’s a huge legacy to build upon. Our confidence is high, based on our initial impressions, and we look forward to putting those impressions to the test. We’ll keep you posted.
Of course, the Camaro SS is powered by the 6.2L LT1 V-8 engine introduced on the Corvette Stingray. About 20 percent of the components are specific for the Camaro’s architecture, including new, tubular “tri-Y”-type exhaust manifolds. And yes, it also employs variable valve timing, direct injection, and Active Fuel Management (on automatic-equipped models). Output is 455 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque, making it the most-powerful standard V-8 ever in a Camaro.
Dimensionally, the new Camaro is slightly trimmer in all exterior dimensions and notably in a nearly 2-inch reduction in wheelbase but the overall effect is more dramatic, particularly with almost fastback profile. It simply looks lean and taught.
The suspension is a little on the stiff side but that’s to be expected in a car that is setup for the track. Trust us, you wouldn’t want a floaty suspension with 650hp on tap. Speaking of suspension, Shelby has really done their homework with the Shelby GT as we were able to carve around more than a few corners at speed while the car gripped the tarmac and took it like a champ.
Other than the conservative color selection and the GPS oversight, the Scat Pack Challenger gets high marks from us, and not just because we’re pro-Chrysler. Scat Pack really is a top value proposition that ponycar and muscle car competitors at Ford & GM just can’t touch. We’re not carrying water for Dodge by saying that if you can find more performance and utility for less money, go ahead and buy it. You’ll just have to drive one yourself to find out!
The Dodge boys tried nibbling at the edges of the performance/value proposition with cars like the GLS, GLHS, Viper, and even V-8 Dakota, but the engineers in Auburn Hills never had all the right goodies in the parts bin to snatch victory from their cross-town rivals in Detroit and Dearborn. They kept trying though, and once the LX platform came on line in 2005 with the 5.7L Hemi-powered Chrysler 300C and Dodge Magnum, a nascent ember of hope grew into a large movement that has ignited Mopar faithful and conquest buyers alike.