Dodge Challenger Hellcat vs. Chevy Camaro ZL1 at Willow Springs

Each passing holiday season marks the steady march toward the end of America’s modern muscle car era. Electric cars may already be the here and now for urban commuters, but there are still plenty of motorists who love big petrol engines, who ask for fun toys to serve as daily drivers – none of which helped cope with today’s climate. then the Dodge Challenger and the Chevrolet Camaro. But Dodge now seems incomprehensibly intent to lead the charge on e-muscle and Chevrolet is sure to follow soon, making both the high-spec Challenger Hellcat and Camaro ZL1 dying breeds. That’s exactly why Freedom Street Garage pulled out one of each for two raffle-style sweepstakes that close in early 2023, but first invited me to take both to the Willow Springs Raceway circuit to show potential winners what the two beefy muscle cars are all about. can do.


Two Muscle Car sweepstakes

Freedom Street joins Omaze, Dream Giveaway, and various car clubs across the country in offering cars in sweepstakes style raffles. The same team, based in San Diego, also similarly operates RestoMods and Forged 4×4, ranging from built off-roaders to vintage classics and modern musclers. The chance to win a slightly modified Challenger Hellcat or Camaro ZL1 might seem less exciting than a fully prepped four-wheeler or classic, as Dodge and Chevy now sell these cars at dealerships – but if we remember today’s ridiculous disconnects between the suggested retail price and the actual purchase price, not to mention shortages and delivery delays, make the lottery model all the more appealing to many (besides the chance to win without spending nearly as much, with a bit of luck). And, of course, Freedom Street throws money on top of the price to help cover potential tax liabilities (or future changes, depending on how you look at it).FOLLOW HERE: HotCars officially on Twitter

The epic Dodge Challenger Hellcat

via Michael Van Runkle/HotCars

As much as Dodge wants to lead Detroit into an e-muscle era, fans of the current Challenger and Charger will probably want to hold on to the current cars for as long as possible. Really, the recipe hasn’t changed since the last financial crisis: retro style with big, brutal engines, especially those equipped with higher-spec Hellcat Hemis. The Demon may have only lasted one model year, but a “base” Challenger SRT Hellcat still puts out an absolutely absurd 717 horsepower and 656 lb-ft of torque, while the Redeye boosts that figure to 797 horses or 807 when equipped with the optional Jailbreak- package.RELATED: Here’s Why the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Is the Last Great Muscle Car

A Hellcat Hemi with some light mods

Dodge Challenger Hellcat Willow Springs Engine Bay close up
via Michael Van Runkle/HotCars

Rather than opt for a higher spec factory Challenger, FSG decided to make some slight tweaks to the package, in popular form. A carbon fiber Corsa intake and air filter setup now feeds the supercharger, paired with a Corsa cat-back exhaust to boost power to about 740 or 750 ponies. And even if the Hellcat in stock form impressed me during a brutal week at Radford Racing School, this Challenger also gets a set of Eibach lowering springs and new Vossen Evo 5R Monoblock wheels to control body roll and keep the improve driving behavior on the track. However, the mods can void Dodge’s factory warranty, so FSG also covered that base with an aftermarket warranty in addition to the $10,000 cash prize the sweepstakes winner receives on top of the car itself.RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: This Is What the 2024 Dodge eMuscle Could Look Like

Stick to the Stock Camaro

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Willow Springs Engine Compartment Close Up
via Michael Van Runkle/HotCars

The Camaro ZL1, meanwhile, remains in full stock in hopes of retaining Chevy’s factory warranty. And FSG apparently believes few tweaks will actually make enough of a difference to warrant potential changes, given the 6.2-litre LT4’s already potent 650bhp and torque to match. That’s largely because the Camaro weighs about 500 pounds less than the Hellcat, while also benefiting from better aerodynamics and a 10-speed automatic transmission compared to the Hellcat’s eight-speed ZF automatic.RELATED: Here’s Why The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Is So Special

On the road

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Willow jumps on the track
via Michael Van Runkle/HotCars

On the track for several laps in a row, I first jumped into the Hellcat hoping to familiarize myself with the big track at Willow Springs. At Radford, I learned how much the weight of the Challenger immediately exposes any driver error, from the expected extra effort required to stop and enter the corner, as well as the importance of selecting the right line and timing to to take off the gas again. Sure, the big whine of the supercharger will distract anyone, but to my ears it was accentuated even further by the Corsa exhaust. And even weighing in at about 4,400 pounds, the Hellcat held up surprisingly well during slow-speed turns and high-speed sweepers—probably due in part to the Eibach springs and Goodyear Eagle F1 tires (which I never pushed hard enough to actually test, considering that FSG has to give away these cars in the near future!). Then I got into the Camaro.RELATED: A Detailed Look Back at the 1969 Chevy Camaro ZL1

A comparison of apples to oranges

Dodge Challenger Hellcat Versus Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Willow Springs for three quarters
via Michael Van Runkle/HotCars

Having never driven a Camaro of any era before, I climbed behind the wheel without any context for what to expect. Sure, I knew the Chevy weighed less and pumped out a little less power, but how similar would two of the best-selling modern muscle actually handle laps at Willow Springs. Well, to the surprise of probably no one, the Camaro immediately revealed a much more track-focused attitude, with tighter steering in a tighter package, the benefit of improved gear ratios and smoother shifts from the 10-speed, and even what felt like quicker acceleration up to the top speeds. show wind resistance. The Camaro also uses magnetic suspension and Brembo brakes, so even comparing the two cars – despite the modifications to the Hellcat – quickly became an apples to oranges job.RELATED: Here’s Why the Future for Muscle Cars Could Be All-Electric

Always fun on the job

Dodge Challenger Hellcat Willow Springs Driving Shot
via Michael Van Runkle/HotCars

These two rides also marked my first time on the big track at Willow Springs, so I probably needed some time to acclimate to a wild course with a lot more elevation changes than I expected from online videos, plus a series of blind turns and long sweepers at more than three-digit speeds. And yet, unlike the smaller Streets of Willow nearby, Big Willow definitely provided the perfect opportunity to test drive the Hellcat and Camaro ZL1 at the end of the muscle car era. obvious choice between the two. And yet I can’t hate the big Hellcat powerhouse, especially as the days of the supercharged V8 come to an end. The Camaro giveaway ends first, on January 8 of next year, so anyone who needs to feel the thrill of potentially winning either car should quickly buy raffle tickets or earn entries by purchasing swag or a membership on FSG’s website . The Hellcat is on deck, ready and waiting for anyone who just needs the more powerful Challenger instead of a Camaro – or who lost the Camaro sweepstakes in the meantime. Sources: freedomstreetgarage.com, willowspringsraceway.com, youtube.com, restomods.com and forged4x4.com.

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