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Friday, August 22, 2008

Hennessey Turbo Challenger runs 11's

HOUSTON — Hennessey Performance Engineering (HPE) is in the midst of developing the first tuner-modified version of Dodge's new Challenger SRT8. At least this is the first modified new Challenger Inside Line has seen that actually appears to be up and running on the road. And it's definitely the only new Challenger we've seen sporting a Garrett ball-bearing turbocharger. Hennessey is calling it the HPE600 Turbo. That's "600" as in a claimed 620 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of peak torque.

Starting with a Challenger SRT8, Hennessey polishes the 6.1-liter Hemi V8's cylinder heads and drops the compression ratio down from 10.3:1 to 9.6:1. Custom headers feed the big turbo that then pushes its charge through an air-to-air intercooler and back into the engine. Oversize fuel injectors keep the combustion chambers full of high-octane go-juice while a 3-inch-diameter stainless-steel dual-exhaust system handles waste gases. Combine that power with a set of Nitto rear drag radials and, Hennessey says, the car will steam down the quarter-mile in 11.9 seconds at 121 mph after a conservative launch.

If nothing else, however, the Hennessey Challenger is also a looker. Hennessey-branded 20-inch deep-dish five-spoke wheels add some classic muscle flavor while the "hockey stick" graphics push that over the top. Hennessey also lowers the car a bit and upgrades with the brakes with StopTech components.

Currently HPE is working out various bugs in the five-speed automatic transmission to get the combination just right. Once they've done that, however, they've promised the car will immediately land in Inside Line's greedy mitts, so look for a full test in the near future.

What this means to you: Even with gas at four bucks a gallon, there's still room in the world for hot rods.