Walk the Line is a movie that I can pick up and watch at any point. If it’s on TV and three-quarters the way through, I have no problem sitting to watch and enjoy the rest. And, just last night, while I was brain storming an article for the Hot Rods and Guns Hellcat, it popped up on the old tube.
The portrayal of the relationship between June Carter and Johnny Cash in the movie is a very sweet, but complex one. Johnny’s adoration of June was immediate and heavy, but his fast life and addiction issues made June wary of seeking romance with The Man in Black. She eventually succumbed to his charms and said yes to his marriage proposal on stage in London, Ontario in 1968. June was Johnny’s everything and their love burned bright through their shared performances until June passed away in May of 2003—Johnny only four months behind her.
The way June looked at Johnny during the earlier parts of their relationship is how I looked at the Hellcat. I was intrigued by its performance and impressive numbers, but left with a feeling that there was no way this wild beast be contained and controlled. If I let this feral animal into my life, it can only end in a great magnitude of destruction.
Seven hundred seven horsepower. That numeration is, generally, reserved for supercars of the Italian breed. Its straight-line speed is a staggering one, as well. The trip between zero and sixty is a short one, taking only 3.6 seconds and the top speed flirts with 200 mph. How is this car a full-size American coupe, let alone a Dodge?
What kind of car is it exactly?
Confusion toward the car is broadened when you try classifying it. It’s stuck somewhere between a pure muscle car and a grand tourer. The Hellcat is a big-bodied American coupe. It has neck-snapping acceleration and its tire-shredding V-8 has a sound that undoubtedly increases serotonin and testosterone levels.
Muscle car, right? Well, part of the muscle car deal is affordability and the Hellcat ain’t cheap. It’s not European touring car levels of expensive, but it does tickle the underbelly of $70,000 and that puts it out of the grasp of a lot of people. To add to the grand tourer allure are the Hellcat’s seats. They are big and comfortable with heated and cooled settings. They very much allot you the ability to drive this car for long distances, at high speeds, for extended periods of time. It also has a trunk big enough for all of your luggage. Don’t want to hear the throaty V-8 rumble? Twist the volume knob and you’ll have your favorite tunes blasting from the crisp Harmon Kardon sound system. Now, is it a grand tourer?
Perhaps the Dodge Challenger Hellcat is its own example of both worlds. Lacking the true refinement of a European grand tourer gives the Hellcat the ability to be the slightly crass American kid its buyers really want. Johnny Cash was a foul-mouthed country boy who also sang gospel music and church hymns. The Hellcat is roaring machine full of attitude with an inviting, roomy interior and attractive styling.
June learns to how to love Johnny
June Carter spent a lot of time with Johnny before she agreed to marry him. Her resistance due to his life style waned, but only because she could see he needed a little understanding and care. Johnny, with all of his hard edges and wild exploits, was really just a man with a big heart searching for an avenue of expression beyond his music. Understanding Johnny Cash is loving Johnny Cash.
The Hellcat is a car you can never underestimate. But, it is also a car you can easily control if you spend a little time with it and know what to expect when confronted with its ferociousness. Its 707-hp and 650 lb-ft of torque is enough to subdue the traction control’s best efforts all the way through first gear and its comfortable ride and recliner-like seats will mask the intensity of triple-digit speeds. Once you learn to manage the power and embrace the Hellcat’s playfulness, a change will happen inside of you. Your cheeks will hurt from smiling and your gut from laughing. The surges of adrenaline are plentiful, but no longer attack your senses like the explosion of a firecracker. And, just when you think the car is too much to handle, you settle it down and cruise agreeably in the slow lane.
Dodge’s Challenger Hellcat is a car I had to learn to love. I didn’t understand it with the few brief encounters I had with it. I shrugged off the impressive performance numbers it laid down and just thought it to be a crude, one-trick-pony. I can admit when I was wrong and I was, indeed, wrong.
I am very much looking forward to my next rendezvous with the savage, but charming Hellcat.