SRT Hellcat— History Repeats Itself

Looking to stem the Japanese invasion in WWII, the defense department began working on a carrier-based fighter that could go head-to-head with the Mitsubishi Zero. What they came up with was the Grumman F6F Hellcat. Though the Zero was still lighter and more maneuverable, the heavier Hellcat could prevail in a dogfight due to its massive Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engine and hundreds of pounds of extra cockpit armor.

Fast-forward to 2014. Ripping a page right out of the history book, engineers for the Dodge SRT Challenger decided their best bet for beating the competition was to outfit the SRT Challenger (with its heaviest-in-class curb weight of 4,160 pounds) with a more powerful engine. Handily leapfrogging the Camaro ZL1's 580 hp (but not the lighter Mustang Shelby GT500's 662 hp), the top model in Dodge's '15 Challenger lineup gets a significantly upgraded 6.2L supercharged and intercooled Hemi with 640 hp. And what name did they give it? Hellcat, of course!

Like its predecessor, the SRT Challenger Hellcat is equipped to prevail in a dogfight, provided it keeps to what it knows best: motion in a straight line. While no slouch on a road course (Hellcat boasts 15-inch Brembo brakes, IRS, stiffer suspension, and 275/40R20 Pirelli Z Zero tires on 20x9.5 rims), the Hellcat's brutally powerful supercharged engine is designed to shine at the dragstrip.

Incorrectly identified by the non-motoring press as all-new, the Hellcat's 6.2L powerplant is a further refinement of the proven Gen III Hemi architecture. It improves significantly on the naturally aspirated 392ci Hemi with 91 percent of its components being redesigned. (The majority of its parts will offer upgrade potential to existing Hemis with minor modification.) Among those components are forged pistons, carbon-coated wristpins, a forged steel crankshaft with induction-hardened bearings, beefier powder-forged rods, higher-flowing cylinder heads with sodium-filled exhaust valves, a more robust cast-iron block with upgraded cooling and piston oil squirters, a higher-lift (.561/.551-inch) hydraulic roller cam, 92mm throttle body, and larger 60-lb/hr injectors.

The biggest addition, however, is a twin-rotor, air-to-water intercooled supercharger that makes 11.6 pounds of boost in stock trim. Early reports peg the output at around 640 hp. Backing all that extra power is a new 8-speed automatic TorqueFlite transmission (the Viper's six-speed manual will also be available).


Quick Test: Eagle As-U-Dry Wax

The folks at Eagle One say they have simplified the act of waxing your hot rod one step further by totally eliminating the drying process. We didn't believe it, so we had to try it ourselves. Typically, the bare minimum you can get away with is to wash your car, dry it off, then spray on the wax, and wipe it off. Until now, drying the water off your car was required before the wax went on—a time consuming, arm-tiring process that we'd love to do without. Eagle One's new As-U-Dry is a liquid carnauba wax in a 23-ounce spray bottle that is specially formulated to disperse evenly when sprayed onto a wet car. The benefit of having an even coat of wax on your wet car is that it keeps it cool in the hot, direct sun, and reduces hazing and streaking. As we found out when using it on Project Laguna, it also saves time and energy, and looks great. Just for fun, we also tried it a second time a few days later, this time bypassing the washing entirely, spraying it directly on the dusty dry paint. It even worked well that way too!


Eastwood Opens Retail Store

Here's a bold move that we hope grows throughout the country: On April 22, 2014, The Eastwood Company opened a full-blown retail store in the town of Alsip, Illinois. Over most of its 36-year history, Eastwood operated as a mail-order stronghold for DIY restoration supplies and tools—a role it still dominates today in the Internet age. Recognizing the need for a brick-and-mortar store in the heart of the Midwest's hot restoration market, Eastwood owner and founder Curt Strohacker opened the Alsip location this spring, marking the occasion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, open house, and car show. Being able to drive up to the Eastwood store and buy tools and supplies is a big plus, but the real bonus is that you can try out tools and supplies on the spot (seven days a week!) with live demos and training sessions. The new Eastwood store is located at 12100 S. Cicero Ave., Alsip, IL 60803 (store phone number 708-377-3690). Now all we need is an Eastwood store in SoCal!


Project Valiant:

New Videos Online

This month, we've got four new fun videos on the PopularHotRodding.com video page and on our You Tube channel (/www.YouTube.com/PopularHotRodding). Look for in-depth coverage of this month's Valiant fuel system installation (using the Aeromotive Phantom Stealth system with Russell plumbing) and driveshaft tech (at Inland Empire Driveline), as well as the December issue of Mopar Muscle's coverage of the Valiant's TTI header and exhaust system upgrade. We also took a deep dive into TTI's Corona, California, manufacturing facility where they build headers for Mopars! Mopar fans will want to check out all four.

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