It took 485 horsepower and tires that were way too skinny to make me realize something profound: I’m a bit of an asshole.
(Full disclosure: Dodge needed me to cruise Woodward in the Charger R/T Scat Pack so badly, they sent me one for a week with a full tank of gas.)
My original headline was “The Dodge Charger Scat Pack Turned Me Into An Asshole,” but then I realize that a car can’t really change someone’s character. There already has to be an asshole buried deep within.
It’s a hard pill to swallow. I used to think I was a pretty good dude, but apparently I’ve had a sociopathic, abrasive punk hidden deep in my soul—a side of me only recently brought to light by a bright red sedan whose only aim is to cover the road in burnt rubber.
The way I revved that car’s engine to the 4,000 rpm cutoff at every damn red light, outside of the Dairy Queen, in my yard waking up the neighbors, at drive-throughs while the poor Taco Bell worker tried taking my order, in the grocery store parking lot, in my friend’s driveway in the middle of the night, and next to every damned sports car that rolled up next to me (A Toyota Sienna is a sports car, right?)... it was as if I had entered a trance, or somehow gotten rabies.
But the blare from that 6.4-liter Hemi V8 doesn’t sound nearly as good unless it’s under load. To get the full symphony, you’ve got to launch the beast.
I’d watch out of the corner of my eye as the perpendicular streetlight blipped from green, to orange, to red. That gave me a second or two before I could let my alter-ego out.
My light turned green, but—because the car struggles with grip and I don’t want to get pulled over—I kept the pedal at only about 50 percent until the car reached 20 mph, at which point, I romped that skinny hinged plate so hard into that damned floorboard, I’m amazed it didn’t puncture through.
With each action, I was rewarded with the furious drumbeat of those eight reciprocating pistons. This was a new me, one that would terrorize southeast Michigan’s streets as long as I kept getting feedback from that motor—one that deserved to be set free and not be muzzled from its true potential.
But the sound of the engine didn’t compare to the feeling I got when those rear tires squealed. That was when my brain truly turned off, a little stream of drool escaped my mouth, and I became someone my mother would be ashamed of.
After first experiencing wheel spin in the Charger as I tried backing out of my driveway (the car simply is incapable of driving in reverse without squealing its tires), I needed more.
So I drove to the middle of nowhere near Fenton, Michigan, found a small bit of asphalt among an almost entirely gravel system of roads, and ripped the single smokiest burnout I’ve ever done. (More full disclosure: since my personal fleet consists of ancient Jeeps, it’s the only smoky burnout I’ve ever done, as none of my personal cars are powerful enough to break their tires loose.)
Between that burnout, the hard launches that seared dark black stripes into the road, and that time I found myself in a Sonic drive-through trying to orchestrate the slowest burnout in history, I had become a monster.
But now that the week is over, they have taken the V8 Bolted To FCA’s Oldest Platform away from me. Now I sit here at my keyboard, hands trembling like an old man’s, my eyes fully dilated. Not blinking. Not sleeping. Not eating.
This evil side of me is in remission, but it’s not going away without a fight.