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Challenger retains title as fastest modern muscle car

by Patrick Rall on

According to Car & Driver, the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 will have a top speed that is electronically limited to 180 miles per hour. That information was said to have come from Ford Motor Company and provided that it is accurate, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat will continue on as the fastest of the modern American muscle cars.

Challenger Redeye

There is still very little official information on the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, but we know that the Motor Company has promised more than 700 horsepower, a 0-60 time in the mid-3-second range and a quarter mile time in the 10-second range. We don’t know how much more than 700 horsepower it will have, nor do we know how far into the 10s it will run, but it seems unlikely that the new GT500 will be able to beat the Redeye on the dyno or in the quarter mile. Based on this new information, the newest Shelby Mustang won’t beat either of the Hellcat Challenger packages on a long, straight pull either.

The 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat with the 717-horsepower Hemi has an official top speed of 199 miles per hour while the 797-horsepower Hellcat Redeye has an official top speed of 203 miles per hour. With the new GT500 expected to weigh less and be more aerodynamic than the Challenger, it was speculated that the Mustang would grab the title of the fastest modern muscle car, but based on this report from Car & Driver, it will actually be the slowest. Behind the Challenger Hellcat and Redeye, we have the Camaro ZL1 with a top speed of 198 miles per hour and the Camaro ZL1 1LE that is aero-limited to 190mph.

In other words, in a tear down a long airstrip, the 2020 Shelby GT500 Mustang isn’t likely to beat the Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye in any metric. The Mustang is likely to beat the standard Hellcat on the low end, but the Challenger will outrun it on the top end of a long pull. As is the case with most vehicles, the top speed limiter of the 2020 GT500 can likely be removed by means of an aftermarket tuning device, but we are talking 100% factory stock here.

Of course, we should point out that the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is being built to be an all-around high performance beast, not a drag strip dominator. This car will very likely be the most road course-capable American muscle car ever, taking target at the current Camaro ZL1 1LE. The Mustang will pack far more power than the Camaro, so there is no question that the Shelby will pull harder on the straights, but it will be a tough test for the Ford engineers to get it around the turns more quickly than the ZL1 1LE.

Along the same lines, few owners will ever reach the top speed of any of these cars, but there is no question that top speed is still a valuable marketing tool. There are people who buy a certain car because it is the strongest, the quickest or the fastest, even though they will never use any of those capabilities. In many cases, top speed is really just a marketing tool, but it is one that works on some buyers.

In any case, the bottom line is that based on this Car & Driver report, the Dodge Challenger will maintain the title of America’s fastest muscle car while the 2018 Demon will continue to hold the title as the quickest American muscle car ever.

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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