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Staycation 5: Cruising Woodward

by Patrick Rall on

On my fifth day with the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, it was sunny and warm in the Metro Detroit area, so I did what everyone with a muscle car should do on a sunny Friday in Metro Detroit: I went cruising on Woodward Avenue.

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Some people might think that “Cruisin’ Woodward” is something that only happens in mid-August, when hundreds of thousands of people flood the route of the country’s most famous car cruise. For locals, cruising Woodward is something that you do every weekend, weather permitting, so my dad and I jumped in the most powerful muscle car ever and headed to the most famous cruising grounds for muscle cars ever.

The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat has been prowling the streets of Detroit for more than a year, and at this point, it isn’t unusual to see one in traffic. I expected that the dark metallic grey Hellcat Challenger in which we were cruising would not draw much attention, as just about everyone in Detroit has seen a dozen Hellcats out in the wild.

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I was wrong. At every single stoplight on the slightly crowded cruise route, I had people taking cell phone pictures of the Hellcat Challenger and/or begging me to either rev the engine or smoke the tires. People in cars around us and the folks parked along the road snapped pictures as we roared our way back and forth on Woodward Ave.

Even drivers in high-end cars or other fast muscle cars stared at the Hellcat Challenger with wonder, and quite a few pulled up next to me to complement the car, including people in Ferraris, Audis, AMGs, a Maserati, and countless Mustangs, Camaros, and  Corvettes. Even though this car is relatively plentiful, with well over 4,000 sold this year (and a massive proportion seemingly in Metro Detroit), it still turns heads simply by revving its way through thick cruising traffic.

We weren’t even the only people cruising in a Hellcat Challenger, and we were privy to watching a gorgeous Sublime Green Hellcat hand beatings to several cars, including the Camaro ZL1, one of those aforementioned Ferraris, and an entire group of 2003-2004 Mustang Cobras. Even with a flashier Hellcat racing up and down the Avenue, our Challenger media car drew attention all up and down Woodward.

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When we came up on two or three slower cars that were “playing around” in traffic, the sight of the Hellcat Challenger put a quick stop to their fun. The new ad campaign for the Hellcat cars and the Viper refer to them as the modern day predators, and in the world of cruising and short sprints away from stoplights, the Challenger is the baddest cat on the plain – and everyone knows it.

In much the same way that small fish act differently when a shark comes into the area, lesser performance cars are quick to slow down and pull aside, presumably hoping to avoid the wrath of the mighty Hellcat Challenger. In an area where street racing is plentiful, I was both stunned and amused to see other muscle car owners and exotic owners alike going out of their way to avoid lining up next to our Hellcat test car or the SubLime Challenger that was handing out all of the beatings.

It is like the animal kingdom, where the vast majority of the smaller, less powerful cars understand that they aren’t even worthy of taking a run at the Hellcat – and in most cases, they are right.

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We spent the evening bopping in and out of parking lots, checking out the groups of parked cars and letting those folks who opted to park instead of cruise check out the Mopar monster. Even in lots where there were already Hellcat cars parked, people on foot flocked to the media car to get a close up look at the instant automotive legend. Not only do people look at the car with wonder, but there is also a steady level of respect paid by almost every automotive clique – from Ford and GM guys to European exotic and Japanese import guys.

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While cruising, my dad recounted stories from the 1960s and 1970s, when he and his buddies were cruising their local roads in all sorts of classic American muscle cars. Back then, the cars that most of the stock racers avoided were the 426 Hemi Cuda and 426 Hemi Challenger, which were the most powerful cars in that era, so it is fitting that almost 50 years later, my dad and I were cruising Woodward Avenue in the most powerful car on the street…and it was another mighty Mopar muscle car.

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The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat proved to be an awesome cruiser along Woodward Ave. When it got a little warm in the car while sitting in traffic, we were able to kick up the chilled seats and the dual zone climate control to keep the cockpit icy cool as we revved our way back and forth on Detroit’s most famous road.

We burned a whole lot of gas over the course of the evening, but it was, without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable days of my automotive life, cruising the famous Woodward Avenue with my dad in the most powerful Mopar muscle car of all time…all along making sure that everyone around us kept in mind that the Hellcat Challenger is the king of the cruising hill.

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I enjoyed myself so much on that Friday, that my wife and I spent Sunday cruising Woodward after my parents had headed home – and even with the slim Sunday crowd, the Hellcat Challenger received the same reception of deep admiration from pretty much everyone that we saw along the route.

Unlike any car I have driven, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is respected and somewhat feared by car guys and girls of all variety, allowing the Mopar team to claim their spot atop the muscle car heap – and the competition on the street knows that.

Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.


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