The Challenger SRT Hellcat once belonged to a member of the criminal classes.
With even the FBI embracing electromobility, it should come as no surprise that numerous police departments across the country are slowly swapping gas-powered patrol cars for EVs. But the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has gone in a different direction altogether, with the addition of a 2020 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat to its fleet.
If your blood is boiling at the thought of taxpayer money funding this extravagant vehicle, fear not - this crime fighter was once the property of a local lawbreaker. Reports suggest the soon-to-be-discontinued muscle car previously belonged to a rather colorful fellow, who led police on a 160-mph chase through Houston. He was later arrested for felony evading and several other crimes.
According to the accompanying Facebook post, the Texas DPS notes that the "fast and devilish" Hellcat was awarded to the department by a judge, and now resides within the fleet. While no details are given, it would appear that this isn't your average Challenger Hellcat SRT. The police vehicle is said to produce 1,080 horsepower - nearly 300 hp more than a standard Hellcat Redeye.
It certainly looks the part and wears the classic black and white police livery nicely. The department's logo takes pride of place on the doors, while the "highway patrol" stickers tell road users what this particular patrol car is for. Emergency lights have been added to the grille, side skirts, hood scoop, and windscreen.
The mere presence of such a powerful and sinister-looking police vehicle will make speeders think twice. No matter what you're driving, the Challenger Hellcat should be able to keep up with ease. However, we must admit, it's a tad bit unnecessary for any law enforcement agency to drive anything this powerful and extravagant - outside of Dubai, of course.
Even though the department received the vehicle for free (new models retail for $70,835), it's not exactly cheap to run on a day-to-day basis. With an EPA-estimated 16 mpg (on the combined cycle) it's not well-suited to regular patrol activities. Then again, the vehicle will reportedly be used as a community outreach vehicle and to drum up excitement in the community.
We've seen this sort of initiative before, with Germany's TechArt modifying a police-liveried Porsche 911 to promote safe and responsible vehicle tuning. Regardless of the running costs, we're guessing the department's myriad officers will be fighting over the keys - hopefully, they'll have had sufficient driver training to handle this beast.
Interestingly, it's not the first police Challenger Hellcat in America. Previously, Marion County Sheriff's department took an incarcerated drug dealer's example and put it to work as an emergency vehicle. Rather amusingly, it wears a sticker that reads "seized from a drug dealer"
In the interests of safety, police officials use the black key (which affords just 500 hp) most of the time. Hopefully, Texas officials will do the same.