2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat: It's a Wrap (Really)
Attending this year’s LX Fest at Auto Club Speedway, one could not help but be blown away by more than 2,000 of Chrysler’s 2005 and newer rear-wheel-drive performance legacy. Over its 15 years, the event has gone through several transitions in its focus, having started out primarily as a Chrysler 300-centered event.
But in 2008, with the introduction of the Dodge Challenger SRT8, all that changed with the focus changing first to Dodge and then to the Challenger. This year the field was dominated by all sorts of Challengers from dead stock to modified to barely street-legal. Of course, Dodge offers its own take in the barely street-legal category but none as outlandish as this 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat owned by deeply-committed Dodge enthusiast, Stephen Gordon of Bakersfield, California.
His enthusiasm is infectious, proven when we first introduced ourselves as being from Mopar Muscle. He couldn’t wait to show us all the upgrades he incorporated to his Hellcat. Like many younger enthusiasts who has come of age in the period since the original Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum were introduced in the Spring of 2004 for the 2005 model year. He grew up with a love of cars at an early age. This included a pedal car, Mattel Hot Wheels, and a series of remote control cars.
“My first car,” says Gordon, somewhat ironically given the origins of the LX platform, “was a used 1985 Mercedes-Benz 190 E purchased when I was around 17 years old. As anyone could imagine, it had well over 100,000 miles on it when I took ownership yet I took so much pride in that car. I kept it in pristine condition, washing and waxing it probably more than it needed to be, LOL. I’d say the only downside to the vehicle at the time was that it didn’t have enough power for me.”
Years later, in 2012, following college and working as an Outreach Worker in the Mental Health profession after a short stint in law enforcement, he purchased his first Mopar. “It was a Challenger 392 Hemi, with the six-speed manual transmission,” recalls Gordon. “I actually learned how to drive a car on a manual so there wasn’t much of a learning curve. I knew after owning my first Challenger that I would be a Mopar guy for the rest of my days. Like my 190 E, I also kept this particular car in pristine condition and enjoyed early-morning and late-night cruises in it. The car was Pitch Black with Silver rally stripes going down the center. I had some ideas on how I planned to go about personalizing my 392. I started with tinting the windows and considered adding a ProCharger supercharger and an aftermarket exhaust.”
Gordon has a story about the 392 that led, in a way, to his later acquisition of his current Hellcat. “I recall a time when I made a pit stop at the dry cleaners for a pickup. I remember getting ready to exit the parking lot and observed a vehicle heading down the direction I was anticipating traveling. I couldn’t tell the make of the vehicle at the time but, noticed it was moving pretty good. I hopped in my immediate lane with the other car approaching rapidly in the middle lane. I noticed that the car was about 200 yards away and gaining as I was banging gears, managing to shift to 4th. The honest truth is, I was challenging myself to see if I could be successful in keeping the other car at bay. Anyhow, the car matched my speed in no time.”
“With the driver looking dead at me with a smirking grin, the driver then drops a gear, accelerates hard and leaves me like I was standing still. It then dawned on me that the other guy was driving a Cadillac CTS V wagon. I soon after met the guy at a red light. He seemed like a cool guy as he took the time to tell me that his car came supercharged from the factory and that it was stock. Let’s just say he had at least 100 hp on my naturally-aspirated 392. After that experience, I said to myself, ‘Never again.’ It was a humbling yet fun experience.”
Gordon’s story on buying his Hellcat is like some others. “Soon after entertaining thoughts of modifications to my 392, I heard about the Challenger and Charger Hellcats in 2015. So, I ordered one in mid-2014 which fell through, then I found and purchased the brand new 2015 Challenger Hellcat of my dreams, with the most-desired six-speed in Phantom Black from Puente Hills Dodge in March of 2015. This was a time when the Hellcats were in high demand and commanded astronomical added dealer markups. After purchasing my car, I began enjoying it every moment I took it out for a drive but remembering to keep in mind the break-in requirements to be followed keeping in the first 500 break-in miles.”
It didn’t take long for Gordon to plot an upgrade strategy, keeping in mind that previous encounter with the CTS V station wagon. The route? A track-capable that still could be easily driven on the street.
For that, he turned to MFR Engineering in Montclair, California. Gordon continues. “I remember exploring some concepts on the web and stumbled upon a picture of a black Challenger Hellcat at a race track in Chuckwalla, California equipped with a full aero kit. The car looked like it meant business while maintaining a stealth appearance. So, I looked up the manufacturer of the aero kit and discovered CRZY engineering and a contact person, Mike Jercan, who I later learned to be the mastermind behind the design. This was well before Mike started his company, MFR Engineering.”
Gordon’s first contact let him know he had found his man. “My first encounter and impression of Mike was great. He was professional and motivated to answer all my questions regarding the material used and functionality of the aero kit. I learned from Mike that the material in the design of the kit is made from two types of metals (5052 and 6061 T6). In addition, the material is referenced as aircraft aluminum which is lightweight, lighter than carbon fiber as well as more durable. I was sold and couldn’t wait to have it installed. I found the durability, functionality and aggressive look to be very appealing and perfect for my build.”
Cars like Gordon’s are not built overnight. He started the personalization process soon after buying the car and it really hasn’t stopped, right up to when we viewed the car at LX Fest 15. His objective from the start was to have a track-ready Challenger but was still comfortable for driving on the street, generating the requisite number of thumbs-up, especially from other Mopar enthusiasts. enjoyable to cruise while getting a great deal of positive attention otherwise The overall time frame of the build is the same four years Gordon has owned the car.
Gordon’s Hellcat has a chassis-mounted under panel with a front splitter and rear diffuser. The design prevents turbulence under the car while keeping the car planted. It is track-ready due to its durability, that it can take a beating. Gordon’s Hellcat is just one of two equipped with the rear diffuser, as its being tweaked by MFR (the other car is a Demon).
As a part of the car’s aero package, MFR Engineering designed and installed Gordon’s wicker bill. “My setup also consists of a number of additional modifications,” says Gordon. “These include a one-piece aluminum driveshaft from the Driveshaft Shop, double disc performance clutch by Bad Boyzz Garage, a 180-degree thermostat, a 2.85 Metco upper pulley, and a Heavy Duty Gate’s green belt, all which were installed by Lonnie Bartley of MPR Motorsports, in Lake Elsinore, California. Other mods included pinned crank, Bwoody CAI, Speedlogix strut bar, UPR catch can, Injector Dynamics 1300 cc injectors, Bwoody heat exchanger, PNR Welding icebox, and a double pump fore fuel system, these upgrades were installed by Gueros Performance in El Monte, California.”
And Gordon adds, “I definitely don’t want to forget about my custom exhaust made by a company based in Azusa, California called DMCFAB. The exhaust is built with 304 stainless steel, secured together with CNC machined married bands. It was welded with a miller 200 syncrowave tig welder, polished with ScotchBrite red pads. The components including a test pipe that mount to the stock headers, an X-pipe, 2X IMO stainless steel resonators, 2X Gibson resonators and a custom quad four-inch stainless coated with high-temperature paint designed to fit inside of the aero kit nice and snug.”
Gordon’s car was remote-tuned by Curt Dusterhoff (ah, the joys of modern computer controls), who is based out of Kennesaw, Georgia. The numbers? 827 rear-wheel horsepower with 732 WTQ (wheel torque). Gordon runs his car on E85, which gives him higher octane than 91 pump gas, to generate these numbers. As an alcohol-based fuel, Gordon notes the cooling effect of E85 on the air/fuel mixture offers significant increases in performance. With a new MAP, on E85, Gordon says the car feels even more powerful. The next trip to the dyno will tell the full story.
Gordon still isn’t done. Other upgrades include tinted windows by AeroWerkz Motorsport in the City of Industry, California. He’s also installed KW adjustable springs that works well with the OEM adaptive system. His wheels are custom HRE 3-piece classic 300s with red alon bolts, matte face and gloss lips, 20×10 up front, 20 x11 rear. Tires are Nittos, NT555rs in all four corners, 275/40/20 up front, 305/35/20 rear, all installed by ModBargains in La Habra, California (Gordon really spreads the wealth around the Southland it seems.)
And now for what caught our eye at LX Fest. Walking up we thought the car was painted a non-stock color. As Gordon explains, that was not the case, hence the title of this story, ‘It’s a Wrap.’ “Following the initial modifications, I decided to go with a stealthier appearance (as if this car could ever be considered ‘stealth’—editor’s note) while incorporating an identifiable accent. So, I thought to myself, ‘I want an awesome matte black finish with an awesome red stripe.’ I then decided to take my car to Impressive Wrap in El Monte, California. I can’t tell you how many people have approached me asking if my car is painted matte black? I always respond telling them, ‘It’s a wrap.’ My goal was to combine retro and modern together. So, I had my car wrapped in a satin black finish with a distinct red stripe that many car enthusiasts on social media recognize and associate with my IG username ‘thee_flashcat.’ Michael Lee, who is the owner of Impressive Wrap was very instrumental in my design and even suggested that making my red stripe a satin red chrome would be a perfect contrast to the satin black finish. I feel it turned out awesome thanks to Michael.”
On the inside, Gordon couldn’t leave well enough alone. “The motivation behind my interior stems from my vision of a race-inspired cockpit. It took a while before deciding the exact approach. I wanted quality bucket seats that could accommodate my stature at 6-foot and 215 pounds. I decided to go with the RECARO Profi XL bucket race seats. The rails, seats, and harnesses were installed by MFR Engineering. I have to admit, it’ll take me a little time getting used to entering and exiting the vehicle. However, they are extremely comfortable on long cruises. I also wanted to go with the best/safest in the business when it came to my harnesses. So, I chose the four-point Schroth Profi 2 ASM which I believe is the only four-point harness system with an anti-submarine feature. My four-point cage is also a vital part of my build because it works in unison with my seats and harness and the rear-seat delete which is also constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum.”
Gordon states that two of his shops worked together on the interior. “I was fortunate that MFR Engineering partnered up with Ed, who is the owner of Mobile Weld Specialist based out of Pasadena California. With Ed and Mike’s collaborative effort, my four-point cage was designed to spec, making my car ready to hit the track. Not to mention being able to do it in style thanks to Jose Acosta with ACD Customs based out of San Bernardino, California. I think Jose and his team did an amazing job designing my four-point cage in a red camo. My carbon fiber shift knob from Speed Dawgs and my carbon fiber steering wheel from Beith Performance Parts were installed by MFR Engineering. The short throw Barton Shifter was installed by Speedworx Automotive in Covina, California.”
It’s been quite a journey and Gordon gives thanks to God my Maker for making my dream build, a reality.
Type stock 6.2L v8
Bore X Stroke – stock
Rotating assembly – stock
Cylinder heads – stock
Compression – stock
Camshaft – stock
Valve train – stock
Induction – stock 2.4L IHI supercharger with 2.85 upper pulley
Oiling system – stock
Fuel system – Fore Innovations double pump system
Exhaust – Custom by DMCFAB
Ignition – stock
Cooling – PNR ice box, 180 thermostat, Bwoody heat exchanger
Fuel – E85
Output – 827 rwhp 732 wtq
Engine built by MPR Motorsports/Guerros Performance
Transmission – 6-speed TR-6060
Converter – stock
Shifter – Short throw Barton shifter
Steering – stock
Front brakes – stock Brembos
Rollbar/Chassis – Chassis/4-point cage by Mobile Weld Specialist
Wheels & Tires
Wheels – HRE classic 300s
Tires – Nitto NT 555rs
Seats – Recaro Profi XL
Instruments – stock
Wiring stock- stock
Source: Read Full Article