Dodge engineers managed to keep other Fiat Chrysler employees in the dark when developing the 707 horsepower 6.2-liter supercharged Hellcat HEMI V8 engine currently found in the Dodge Challenger and Charger Hellcat.
According to USA Today, SRT powertrain director Chris Cowland first approached FCA’s corporate product forum about developing the Hellcat V8 in 2011. At that time the plan was to develop a 600 horsepower engine to dethrone the 550 horsepower Shelby Mustang GT500, but when rumors of a 650 horsepower Shelby surfaced, Dodge upped the ante to 675.
The corporate product forum, which includes FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne, gave Cowland and his crack team of engineers the green light to produce the 675 hp engine. The catch, however, was that they had no extra time to develop it and it must return the same fuel economy figures as the 600 horsepower mill they had originally planned.
The Hellcat project was so secret that some people in the product development team had no idea what the powertrain team was up to. Employees working on designing one part had no idea what those working on another part were doing, helping to keep internal chatter about the engine at a minimum.
Cowland says he likes to over deliver, so instead of developing 675 horsepower engine, his team pushed out a 707 horsepower one. To say his pet project was a success would be an understatement. To date, FCA has moved 15,000 Challenger and Charger Hellcats – much more than the automaker had originally planned to sell. The Hellcat has also turned attention to other Challenger and Charger variants like the Scat Pack and 392 HEMI, fulfilling its duty as a halo car.
“We built it because we could,” Cowland told USA Today. “We wanted to make a statement and move the brand forward.