Back in the 1960s, your muscle car wasn’t hot if you were running an automatic. You needed a four-on-the-floor to blaze between the lights, or else drivetrain loss would just result in you eating dust. While we’ve come a long way from Powerglides, there’s still an undeniable appeal in shifting your own gears, and Dodge knows that. Just as the muscle car as we know it is about to die, its maker has confired that the manual Challenger Hellcat is finally, once again, available to order.
First, some backstory: Dodge quietly dropped the manual gearbox from the Challenger Hellcat option sheet for 2022, making a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic the only way to turn the supercharged V8’s power into propulsion. In December, Dodge announced that the manual was coming back as a last hurrah for the soon-to-be-discontinued supercharged muscle car, and that orders would open during the 2023 model year. Well, we’ve waited and waited, but the light finally appears to be at the end of the tunnel.
Koons Tysons Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram in Virginia claims that order books for the manual Hellcat are now open, both for the standard-body and widebody car. However, Dodge’s configurator hasn’t been updated yet, so we followed up with the manufacturer and received the following response:
The Dodge Challenger Hellcat with manual transmission is now available, in low production volumes. Customers can use the Dodge Horsepower Locator tool at DodgeGarage.com to find a dealer with a remaining Challenger Hellcat allocation, and then connect with the dealer to place an order for a Challenger Hellcat with a manual transmission.
Sweet! Of course, the Tremec TR-6060 six-speed manual gearbox can only be combined with the 717-horsepower standard Hellcat engine, but that’s the way it’s always been thanks to the transmission’s rated torque capacity. However, as a consolation prize, every 2023 Challenger Hellcat is a Jailbreak model, meaning that the gates are up on color combinations. Want an F8 Green car with bronze wheels, cloth seats, and copper-woven carbon fiber trim? Go nuts. Although the Last Call models bring a little something extra to the party, these last manual Hellcats will be so special if they’re ordered in unique specs.
Eight model years into its production run, it’s safe to say that the Dodge Challenger Hellcat is a cultural icon. I mean, how couldn’t it be? We’re talking about a 700-horsepower car with a warranty that anyone with half-decent credit could walk into a Dodge dealership and finance. When it launched for 2015, there was no McLaren 720S, no 760-horsepower Mustang GT500, nothing with a plaid emblem. This was a muscle car with more horsepower than an Enzo that normal people could buy. Unsurprisingly, it quickly wormed its way onto laptop wallpapers and into songs like any supercar would. From 21 Savage to Chief Keef to Lil Uzi Vert, the Hellcat namechecks kept coming, cementing the supercharged Dodge’s supernatural legacy.
These days, there are more powerful Challengers out there, from the insane Demon 170 to the 797-horsepower Hellcat Redeye, but the involvement of a manual is so special in this day and age. From finessing the bite point of the 258 mm twin-disc clutch to slamming third hard enough to lay down elevens, the Tremec TR-6060 promises to always keep you engaged. Sure, it’s a bit more work in traffic than the automatic, but we’re on the eve of electrification, so new manual performance cars like this are quite literally a dying breed. Plus, the manual Challenger Hellcat offers a unique superlative: Due to the foot-operated parking brake, it’s the most powerful new car you can buy with four pedals.
(Photo credits: Dodge)
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