There are now almost 60,000 Dodge Hellcats of different stripes prowling the highways and dark places of America. There will be many more before Dodge implodes or otherwise stops making them. To many, 60,000 Hellcats is just great. And it is, except that there’s one very dark, very scary thing about 60,000 Hellcats in the wild, and we’re not kidding.
The scary part is the third owner. Think about it. The first owner is probably a male, fairly well off and educated. He paid a lot of money for his Hellcat. It represents a stupid, fast American muscle car that also drives, handles, and in every way is 100-times better than those original muscle cars from the 1960s.
You never have to adjust the carburetor. There are no changing plugs every 8,000 miles. The brakes don’t fade after a couple of hard stops. You don’t feel like the car will tip over going tight into a corner. They’re more than anything you could ask for in a two-ton-plus sedan. In some ways, they are a miracle.
The first owner more than deserves his Hellcat
The owner worked hard for the cha-cha to buy it, and he has pride and respect for the crazy, fast characteristics the Hellcat possesses. It means the chances are very good that in two or four years when he decides to trade it in or sell it, his Hellcat will look like new, even if it has 80,000 on the ticker.
Owner number two will have a lot of the qualities of the original owner, but he’s not as invested. First, it’s a used car with some miles on it. It’s not a fresh car-everyone that used to notice it doesn’t as much now. He didn’t have to pay a lot of money because just like all cars it depreciated somewhat. It’s still a Hellcat, it’s just not as new, unique, and fresh. It might even have a chipped windshield or a slight scuff on the bumper.
Since there isn’t as much to lose, and not as much invested, things get a bit sloppy. Maybe the owner doesn’t garage it. Or maybe one of his kids vomited in the back seat a couple of times. Who knows-the point is the car is now speeding up its slow decline.
Now it needs tires, brakes, and it’s got a mushy suspension…
After a couple of years, it needs brakes, new tires, and you burned a small hole in the front seat from your cigarette. It’s time to find another heap. So, on to Craigslist, it goes. Now we come to the scary part; the third owner.
The third owner is 19, wants a cheap, fast car. He just made some money after having the tip of his pinky finger zipped off in a forklift incident at work. Insurance gave him a few grand not to sue. Now he’s got some scratch and wants to blow it on a Hellcat. He looks on Craigslist and there it is-and he’s the third owner.
He’s never had something fast, or quick, or running as good as the Hellcat does. Sure, it’s got about 150,000 on the ticker, but it’s still got some kick to it. Oh, and he wants to impress his girlfriend Chloe.
The sooner the better…
Eventually, if he doesn’t kill somebody in a crosswalk or in a head-on accident, you hope he blows it up, or at least smacks it hard enough not to hurt himself too much but to render the Hellcat a “total.” And, the sooner the better.
That’s the big, scary problem with the Hellcat. Fiat-Chrysler should just require you to sell it back to them after you’re done with it. It should be required to vet all subsequent owners to make sure that the third owner is as smart and respectful as the first.
Or maybe after the first owner, there can be a rev-limiter, or governor to keep the speed and acceleration down. That way if the scary third owner wants to hang it out in a tight curve at 120 mph, he can’t because it won’t go to 120 mph.
We all love the Hellcats right now. But the idea of a third owner should grip you with the fear you get like the time you saw Psycho, and you were only eight years old. The fear is real and the third Hellcat owner could be a modern version of those 1960s American International fright movies. You know, where all of the teenagers are frugin’ on the beach at night and then this thing comes out of the water and eats them all.
The third owner. At that signpost up ahead, it’s the Twilight Zone.