There’s no getting around the fact that anything with a Hellcat badge on it is dumb. Of course, there are different kinds of dumb, and the Hellcats are the very best kind which is a combination of pointless in modern society and yet so totally filled with goofy joy that you have to love it. The problem with the Hellcat Challenger, in particular, is that if you wanted one with a manual transmission, you’re out of luck.
Only now, according to a report published on Wednesday by Car & Driver, that’s no longer the case. By that, I mean that Stellantis is bringing the six-speed manual transmission back to the Challenger for the 2023 model year after quietly killing it sometime in 2021. Dodge’s reason for killing the manual option was something nebulous to do with power calibrations, but whatever those issues were, they’re sorted now.
The Tremec six-speed is the standard transmission on R/T, R/T Scat Pack and SRT Hellcat models but isn’t available on any of the spicier infernal feline models like the Super Stock, the Jailbreak or the Red Eye. Those are all still only available with the eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic, which is fine because 717 horsepower is plenty to manage all on your own.
“As good as the automatic is, I really just wanted to maximize that visceral muscle car experience, and I think the manual gearbox is a big part of that,” said Bradley Iger, automotive journalist and manual Hellcat owner. “I was never really concerned about having the quickest thing out there; it was more about the fun factor of driving something that’s involving but also kind of unhinged. To me, that’s always been the charm of the Hellcat.”
So, if you’re the kind of wild-ass horsepower junkie who wants to buy a manual Challenger Hellcat, this is a great day. It’s unclear how much the manual 2023 Challenger will cost, but given that it’s the base transmission on the base Hellcat, we’d ballpark around $70,000. If you want one, you better act quickly, though, because the Hellcat party is winding down.
We reached out to Stellantis’ U.S. arm for comment but didn’t hear back in time for publication.