by Patrick Rall
While the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is the most affordable 700+ horsepower car in the world, the $65,000 price tag makes it unaffordable to many people. Because of that price tag, many of the people buying the Hellcat Challenger and Charger are older folks and many younger buyers are “rich kids” — the people in their 20s driving a high priced vehicle while working a job that couldn’t possibly pay for it, while living in their parents’ huge house.
These younger Hellcat owners are often accused of not appreciating what they have because they didn’t have to work for it, but Kerk Murray isn’t your average Hellcat Challenger owner. At just 28 years old, someone who sees Murray driving his 707 hp Challenger might expect that his parents bought it for him, or perhaps he used money from a trust fund set up by some other wealthy family member – but those people would be wrong.
Kerk Murray bought his Hellcat Challenger with money that he earned by working his way through the management ranks at the Waffle House – illustrating that the American Dream is still very much alive and well, even if you aren’t raised in a wealthy household.
So, how does a 28 year old Waffle House employee afford the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat? He was taught by his parents to work hard for what he wants out of life and when Kerk Murray wanted a Hellcat Challenger, he financed it like any other buyer would for any other car.
Kerk Murray is lives in Southern Georgia with his wife Crystal. His mother was a homemaker and his father was an airline mechanic. Kerk’s parents made sure that he had what he needed growing up, but they were far from rich, teaching him the importance of working for what you want in life.
With the help of his parents and his jobs as a baseball/softball umpire and in lawn care, he was able to purchase his first vehicle at the age of 15 – a 1998 Chevy Cavalier. (It would have been around five years old at the time.)
Kerk drove that Cavalier through high school and college, graduating with a history degree and $50,000 in debt. He saw an advertisement for the Waffle House management program, and took over his first store in 2011, before being promoted to district manager in 2014.
While working through the Waffle House management program, Kerk Murray bought his first new car, a Dodge Avenger SE. He had wanted to get a Challenger, but his mother talked him into buying the Avenger, which was a far more reasonable car for someone right out of college. He never fell in love with that sedan and traded it in four months later for his first Dodge Challenger. He chose the Challenger over the other available muscle cars because he loved the retro styling and because they were rare in his area.
The first Dodge Challenger purchased by Kerk Murray was a 2011 V6 car, when he was 24 years old. He had planned to buy a Challenger R/T, but his mom told him that the insurance would be very expensive and he opted for the V6. He found out the next day that the R/T would have cost him just $14 a month more.
After a year of driving the base model Mopar muscle car, Kerk traded it for a 2010 Challenger SRT in bright yellow. Kerk loved the SRT power and he enjoyed that blazing yellow SRT Challenger for three years – with his familiar WAFFLES license plate - when he first saw the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. As soon as he saw the Hellcat Challenger online, he knew that he had to have one.
He hunted for a Hellcat for months, unsuccessfully, and even considered purchasing a Ford Mustang GT500 instead, when his local dealership advertised a Hellcat Challenger online. The morning that Murray found this blacked out car, he went to the dealership and bought the 707 hp muscle car, trading in his bright yellow 2010 Challenger SRT.
He had never driven a manual transmission and his new Hellcat Challenger had the 6-speed manual transmission. He had to have a dealership employee drive the car home for him, watching instructional videos on YouTube, Murray taught himself to drive a manual transmission on his Hellcat Challenger. He thinks that the first trip out of the neighborhood started with him stalling the car dozens of times, but he was patient and he learned – and it was surely worth the trouble.
From there, the rest is history. Kerk Murray has spent the past few months customizing his Hellcat Challenger in a modest manner, adding red badging around the outside of the car along with a black-on-black Hellcat body stripe. He removed the factory mufflers, allowing the Hellcat Hemi to make its presence known for miles around.
Murray now uses his Hellcat Challenger as his daily driver, getting him to and from his Waffle House management position each day.
Kerk Murray has literally worked his way from a Chevy Cavalier to a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, working at the Waffle House. He is proof that you can work in the food service industry and live a great life with a true dream car. While Murray has a college degree, he is quick to point out that he knows managers within his company who started off as grill cooks, working themselves up to the same position.
So what is next for Kerk Murray? Well, as he points out, when you own the most powerful muscle car of all time, it is hard to want more. He has fallen in love with the Mopar world and he plans to stay there, possibly considering a Dodge Viper for himself or the Hellcat Jeep for his wife in the future, but for now, he is driving his Hellcat Challenger to work at the Waffle House each day. He is chronicling his Hellcat experience on Instagram at @drive_srt, so for more pictures of Kerk and his 707 hp Hellcat, look him up on Instagram.
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