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Long Term Hellcat: Cold Air and Colder Air

by Patrick Rall on

I planned to write this installation of my long term review of my 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat once it had been tucked away for the winter, but as of January 8th, winter has not arrived in Metro Detroit.

I am not complaining, as the lack of winter weather has led to a lack of road salt, so while the temperatures have gotten low, we have had plenty of clear, dry days in the 40s and 50s without any sign of the awful mixture of salt and slush on the sides of the road. Without the concern of salt or icy roads, I have continued to enjoy my Hellcat over the course of the past few months, sitting out a few mild snowfalls around Christmas only to enjoy temperatures nearing 60 during the first week of 2019.

The Snow Cat

Do you know what it is likely driving a Hellcat on cold, crisp December mornings? Provided that you aren’t too worried about low-end traction, it is absolutely incredible. In the cold winter air, the Hellcat Hemi makes gobs of power and while the cold pavement makes traction a bit troublesome down low, there are few things as wonderful as the mid-range pull of a Hellcat Challenger on a 40-degree day. With that in mind, I come to the sad fact that many Hellcat owners tucked their cars away weeks ago simply because we were entering the winter months.

While I certainly understand the desire to keep these high-priced Mopar monsters out of the harmful salt-based slush that plagues many American towns where winter really shows its face, the fact of the matter is that the modern Dodge Challenger is a remarkable winter vehicle.

Sure, 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque can prove to be less-than-ideal when there is snow packed on the roads, but in cold climates with clear roads, my Hellcat is a glorious winter vehicle. With remote start, heated seats and a heated steering wheel, my car is nice and warm every time I hit the road, even when it is parked outside. Provided that I drive with a bit of common sense, the Hellcat Challenger has no problems navigating the cold streets and I’ve ever been caught in the snow a few times and my Pirelli tires did just fine on the slippery streets. Mind you, I drive far more cautiously when the roads are cold and the snow in which I drove my Hellcat were little more than light dustings, but the car performed flawlessly.

Also, when you find yourself cruising down an open road without no one around on a 40-degree day, it is a hell of a lot of fun to gear down, hammer down and let the Hellcat smoke the tires at speeds exceeding most local speed limits. That is certainly not something that everyone will want to do, but few things put a nervous smile on the face of a passenger like 55 mile-per-hour rolling burnouts and the combination of cold pavement and big-power air conditions make that very possible.

So, for those wondering, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat has no issues handling cold winter temperatures and while it has only braved light amounts of snow, the Hellcat has no qualms about confidently playing in the snow. For those wondering, the pictures here do show snowfall from this winter, but as you can see, the snow didn’t lay on the paved surfaces and the next day, it was gone. It did make for some great Hellcat in snow pictures, though.

Cold Air Intake Arrives

In addition to enjoying the cold air of Metro Detroit winter, my Hellcat Challenger is breathing cooler air every day thanks to a new cold air intake which was a birthday gift from my wife. By looking at comments that I made online, she found out what kind of cold air intake I was considering and for my birthday, she gave me a Legmaker carbon fiber cold air intake setup.

I had been dragging my feet on a cold air intake for months because, frankly, I am cheap and intakes are fairly expensive, but I had my eye on a Legmaker for a handful of reasons. First and foremost, I know countless Hellcat owners who have the same intake with nothing but glowing results. Second, I didn’t see the point in upgrading from a plastic tube to another plastic tube and Legmaker offers gorgeous, hand-made carbon fiber intakes that look far better in the engine bay than any of the other options. Third, I have heard quite a few Hellcats with the Legmaker intake and in addition to allowing the supercharged Hemi to breathe better, it also helps the supercharger announced its presence. While the basic whine of the blower in stock form is nice, the Legmaker intake takes the engine sounds to a whole new level – one which I can’t imagine being without.

Finally, I have met the owner of the company in person, as he is a legitimate member of the modern Mopar community. His name is Chris Harrigan and since starting his intake company, he has been one of the leaders in providing high quality intakes to the Mopar community. If you follow our coverage of the Modern Street Hemi Shootout series, that name should be familiar, as Harrigan has a wicked-quick Charger, so in addition to being known in  the community for his aftermarket support – he is known for having one of the fastest modern Chargers around. I could have gotten the same basic results from a handful of other companies, but I wanted a Legmaker intake because it supports a member of the Mopar community and I wanted to keep my money within the community, with a company that supports the community like few others.

 

My wife knew all of this and purchased me the Legmaker that I wanted, and I couldn’t be happier with it after several months of use. I have not had the car dyno tested to see how much power it picked up, but independent third-party testing has shown increases of more than 20 horsepower and in the long run, I wasn’t so worried about making a bunch more power. I was more interested in letting my Hellcat Hemi scream and the Legmaker intake does just that.

I have loved my Hellcat Challenger since the day that we drove it home last August, but adding the cold air intake has made me fall in love with the car all over again. The whine from the supercharger with the Legmaker intake is incredible, producing a tone under hard load that gets everyone to look. As one person put it online, the Legmaker “sounds like it adds a hundred horsepower” and that is really the best way of putting it. When you aren’t into the throttle, the supercharger whine is fairly minimal, so by shifting into a higher gear and letting the engine speed drop, you can sneak past police without drawing any more attention than usual, but when you stomp the throttle from a stop or climb hard through the mid-range, the Challenger screams like few cars I’ve experienced. People in other cars, people on the street and probably people in air planes snap their necks to look and see what is making that sweet sound and I would imagine that few are surprised to see that it is a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.

Also, I have learned that Legmaker’s metal rain shield also works in the snow, so I haven’t had any problems daily driving the Challenger in the winter weather with the carbon fiber cold air intake.

Sadly, I know that sooner or later, Old Man Winter will descend upon Detroit and unleash his icy fury, at which point MDOT will line the streets with piles of salt and my beloved Hellcat Challenger will be hauled off to storage, but until that day comes, I am enjoying every mile of cold-weather cruising in my supercharged Mopar muscle car.

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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