Back in the Day, in 2021
Generally speaking, muscle cars of the original era have passed the 50-year mile marker. However, it can feel like only yesterday considering the problems we face in 2021 are not much different from 1971. We are currently complaining about rising gas prices, batting inflation, seeing trouble in the middle east, and fighting in several wars overseas that lost their agenda years (decade) ago. But it’s not all bad; at least we can still buy outrageous muscle cars like the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody. A modern muscle car wearing the face of a hockey enforcer, a supercharged engine that whines like incoming artillery, with extra doors for a car seat and trunk space for a stroller.
The Hellcat Redeye, on paper, paints a picture of rage-filled angst with a quarter-mile being its only outlet. However, what this car excels at is being a reminder that anyone can buy a pair of rose-tinted sunglasses. The SRT Hellcat Redeye uses 797-horsepower to take you back while shoving you forward from zero to 60 in under four seconds. Over the course of five days and 700 miles, the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye became a personal nostalgic time machine to an era too young to ever witness.
Behind the wheel of this supercharged Mopar, I basked in the romance of the early 1970s. Full-filling a fantasy of an era when muscle cars, particularly Chrysler products, wore licensed cartoons as symbols of power, and social status was measured in cubic inches. Testing this car was the closest my old soul ever got to sun tanning in the golden-hour light of the muscle car era, and it was far out!
The Heart of the Matter is Supercharged
At this point, Mopar has been cranking out Hellcat-powered variants on par with the Fast n Furious franchise – just when you think they’ve jumped the shark (in a Dodge Charger no less), they manage to announce a newer, faster version. Checking the Redeye box on an order sheet means adding another 90-horsepower to the SRT Hellcat’s 707 for a total of 797-HP being produced from its 6.2-liter Supercharged Hemi V8. The task of sending all that power to the rear wheels is an eight-speed automatic transmission and your right foot.
Surf the internet long enough, and you’ll find lovers and haters alike for SRT Hellcat products. Some say they are too heavy, lack handling, and there are plenty of crashed examples they can use to back it up. The other side will praise Mopar by chanting the Hellcat engine’s HP figures repeatedly, like praying a rosary.
Whatever side you land on, there is one thing I can confirm. The 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye handles exceptionally well – if you have a basic understanding of car control. If you try to drive it as you would on a video game or get distracted by meaningless things like peer pressure or pride, this vehicle, like any other performance car, will give you a painful lesson in the law of physics.
Stepping On the Hellcat’s 797-HP Tail
On an undisclosed empty road, I indulged in the temptations of lust and greed associated in the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye. Before this, people close to me had warned me to be careful with this car. Their reason for concern was understandable, considering the number of YouTube videos and stories of Hellcat drivers running out of talent before third gear and wrapping their Hemi around anything and everything. After the sixth friend, family, and professional colleague tells you to watch out, it starts to get in your head.
This road was four lanes of virgin highway with a destination to be announced. An arrow straight road that allowed you to see the vanishing point where tarmac turned to sky. Feeling like a test pilot, I gave the seat belt two firm tugs to confirm it was tight before going to the U-Connect screen and switching the SRT Redeye to Track Mode. This meant the traction control would be switched off, the suspension set to its firmest setting, and had complete control over the full 797-hp.
Staring down the horizon, listening for the faint, steady roar of an approaching vehicle, I heard nothing but the wind while trying to ignore the concerned voices in my head. Cautious doubt hung in the interior like humidity as I checked my hands for sweat before grabbing the Hellcat’s suede-leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Meanwhile, the Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye waited for me, idling steady with burbling confidence that made you feel strong. Foot on the brake, I gave the throttle a firm squeeze to feel the car buck in protest like a bull in the box, ready to toss a cowboy off its back in under eight seconds. Ready, set, go – and threw my boot onto the gas pedal like I was trying to kick-start a vintage Harley-Davison.
I didn’t bother with launch control the same way I don’t use bumper-guards when I go bowling. The 2021 Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye reacted like a nuclear explosion – you hear it before feeling the shockwave that throws you back in your seat as that car pounces forward in full attack mode. Don’t bother looking at your mirrors – anything to see has vanished in a white fog of tire smoke. Focus on the task at hand.
At 40 mph, the rear wheels are still fighting for traction. Fight the natural instinct to lift off the throttle as you feel the car wanting to get loose. A gear change later, and you find yourself at the critical point where people often lose control. Keep your cool. When faced with a wild animal you don’t make sudden movements, especially at the wheel. Ease off the throttle gently, feather it, and adjust the steering just enough to keep it from getting entirely sideways. Take comfort in the flashing light on the dash, its the Stability Control icon letting you know that you are not alone.
Dodge’s stability control system works wonders in helping you keep a firm grip on the Hellcat’s leash. However, everything has a limit, and if you go beyond the limit, it can only do so much before you over-correct or panic brake past the point of no return.
Past 60 mph, the car found traction allowing me to juice the throttle back to full power. The Charger SRT Redeye responded and rocketed forward in a battle cry. Each gear change felt brutal, like breaking through a sound barrier as the eyes rattle inside the skull—the supercharger whining like a town crier, telling the world around it to moooooooooovvveeeeeeeee. Past the 150 mph mark, the Redeye catches a second wind prompting you to decide whether you want to keep going or not.
After a successful run, it’s impossible not to feel like a driving god. Because you managed to control a nearly 800-hp, rear-wheel-drive muscle car. It’s like finding out you can pick up Thor’s hammer. But beware, don’t get overly confident, because like owning a tiger as a pet – it doesn’t matter how much you love it, a tiger will never stop being wild.
Hunting with Napalm
If you’re the type of person, who says “why do you need that much power just to get around” then I doubt you’re even reading this article. Logic doesn’t always come into play with cars like the 2021 Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye. Besides, we know it is unnecessary, the same way it is unnecessary to stack four burger patties, half a pack of bacon, and triple layers of cheese, onto a pun. Yet, some of us like having the option to indulge. Thankfully, daily driving a 2021 Dodge Hellcat won’t give you heartburn, only adrenaline dumps.
You get to enjoy the not-so-guilty pleasure of knowing you can overtake anything on the road. That is the biggest struggle with driving the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye. You want to run. Like Kowalski in Vanishing Point (1971), you want to use its speed to get yourself up, to get yourself gone. You find yourself disliking the traffic around you (more than usual) for taking up space on YOUR highway, preventing you from running down, to or away from whatever is on your mind.
One surprising thing is how the female gender reacted to this car. I assumed most would find it obnoxious, yet in one instance, while driving with a friend, two young ladies blew kisses at us at a stoplight. Of course, their affection was directed at the car, not us. So I guess you can say chicks dig the Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye, or at the very least, it’s Frostbite Blue paintwork.
Premium Fuel Only
I noticed on the 2021 Charger Redeye the lack of notification as to what sort of fuel this car requires. It does not specify anywhere, including the owner’s manual, that it requires premium fuel. After speaking with several Dodge reps, I confirm that the supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi in SRT Hellcat and Redeye-equipped vehicles require premium fuel 91 octane or higher. If you’re a car buyer who cringes at the thought of premium fuel, I recommend the 5.7-liter Hemi, which can handle 89 octane unleaded fuel.
The Price of Power
Speed costs money. In this case, the starting price of the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody is $69,995 (plus a $2,100 Gas Guzzler tax). The Redeye package adds $8,600 to the bottom line. The SRT Hellcat Redeye shown in this article had plenty of options like the black satin hood, orange brake calipers, carbon/suede interior accents, and 20-inch Warp Speed Graphite wheels, bringing the total to $92,150. That is expensive, and no matter how much Alcantara leather you drape inside this car, the Hellcat’s interior feels dated. It looks too identical to interiors of Charger, Challenger SRT variants I’ve been test driving since 2016.
Final Thoughts on the 2021 Dodge SRT Hellcat Redeye Package
The interior needs an update, starting with a premium fuel-only decal. It is an expensive car but does provide nonstop thrills and smiles in exchange. The SRT Hellcat Redeye is, without a doubt, a future classic. It’s entertaining with an inherited dark, twisted sense of humor straight out of a Tarantino film.
I appreciated the fact that Dodge did not plaster the word “Red Eye” throughout the vehicle. Instead, the main clue of the extra muscle it flexes is located in the side fender Hellcat badge, where you’ll find a set of red, devilish eyes letting you know this .44 is a magnum. Lastly, for a four-door sedan with a highly tempting V8, I was able to average 17 MPG during my test week, which was better than expected.
In the end, I dreaded giving back the red key. I wanted to keep the Hellcat Redeye forever – maybe one day.
Artwork By Autotoonz
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