Classic Cars

Dodge Super Charger has a 1,000-hp case of Hellephantitis

This SEMA concept is powered by a 426-cubic-inch, supercharged V8 that's brawnier than the one in the Dodge Demon.

Dodge

In 2017, Dodge nearly burned down the New York Auto Show with the debut of its Challenger SRT Demon, the 840-horsepower, nine-second quarter-mile muscle car. (Not literally, of course, but its reveal did involve a lot of smoke and loud noises).

On Tuesday at Las Vegas' SEMA aftermarket expo, Dodge released a new engine that makes the Demon's powerplant look downright quaint. Evocatively dubbed "Hellephant," the new Mopar Hemi crate engine displaces 426 cubic inches and features a 3.0-liter twin-screw supercharger (0.3-liter larger than that of the Hellcat's unit in the Demon) delivering 15 pounds of boost. The aluminum-block Hemi III puts out a nice, round 1,000 horsepower and 950 pound-feet of torque.

Muscle car buffs will recall that 426 — aka 7.0 liters — is something of a magic number for Chrysler. The company offered a legendary engine with the same displacement in the Sixties. Its enormous size earned it the nickname "Elephant," hence this engine's "Hellcat + Elephant" = "Hellephant" moniker.

Hand-assembled in Livonia, Michigan, the new engine will be available for purchase in early 2019 for $19,000, and will be offered with a $2,195 kit that includes wiring harness, preprogrammed powertrain control module, and even a by-wire gas pedal. 

Company officials expect Hellephant to be a popular drop-in among drag racers as well as custom truck builders, and even those looking for an ultrapowerful retro street machine.

As such, it wouldn't do just to have the Hellephant just sitting on a stand -- even a trick running one like the one below. So in observance of the legendary second-generation B-Body Dodge turning 50 this year, FCA built a highly customized 1968 Charger that's powered by the 426.

Dubbed "Super Charger," this blacked-out street machine sits 2.5 inches lower than stock and features flared fenders that combine to give the car 4 inches of added width. A 3.5-inch body drop in front and a 2.5-inch drop in the front adds presence, but the coupe's most interesting design feature is arguably that Dodge stretched its wheelbase 2 inches, visually shortening the front overhang.

The Brass Monkey Bronze-painted wheels are stock 20x11-inch Challenger SRT Hellcat Devil alloys, and the rears are custom 21x12-inch units. The split-spoke wheels do a good job of showing off the modern braking hardware, too -- six-piston Brembo calipers.

Additional visual changes include a new fiberglass hood with a Demon's scoop molded in, one-piece side glass (the vent windows are gone), shaved drip moldings and a different side mirror.

However, the most noticeable and impressive visual changes are centered around the Super Charger's lights, both front and rear. Up front, instead of featuring retractable headlamps like the original, FCA has opted for a riff on a phantom-style one-piece grille that allows for new Challenger headlamps to shine through from behind. As one FCA executive said at a media backgrounder ahead of SEMA, "[It's] probably totally illegal, but hey, when you're doing design, you've got to break a few eggs, and maybe a few laws, too."

The 1968 Dodge Super Charger sits on a two-inch longer wheelbase and features two-inch wider flares.

Dodge

The Super Charger's rear lights are no less interesting. The original 1968 model featured a quartet of small, round red tail lamps, and indeed, that's exactly what this show car's rear fixtures look like, but that's not what they are at all.

Those round things aren't lights.

Dodge

In fact, those circular elements back there are functional exhaust outlets — the gloss-black five-inch tips are borrowed from the company's Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUV, of all places. Instead, the LED tail lights are actually contained in the recessed surface around the aforementioned pipes. It's a particularly clever slight of hand worthy of an old-school custom hot rod.

Beyond making the rounds on the show circuit, FCA hasn't committed to regularly exercising the Super Charger Concept, but we hope that this internet-purchase-turned-SEMA-star car gets to light up its tires in anger at least once.