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Plug and play: the Dodge Hellcrate is a 697bhp V8 in a box

Published: 01 November 2017

 6.2 V8 from Charger/Challenger Hellcat
 On sale without the rest of the car
 Honda also offering a Type R ‘crate’

Here’s a welcome addition to our list of most inappropriate lawnmower upgrades - the catchily titled Dodge Hellcrate; a 697bhp, plug-and-play V8 that is on sale now for the same price as a Ford Fiesta.

It’s essentially the 6.2-litre supercharged lump from the Charger and Challenger Hellcat models, but has been configured to slot under the bonnet of your project car and work right off the bat.

Hellcrate engine

The Hellcrate costs $19,530 (about £15,000) while you’ll pay an additional $2,195 for the engine kit, which adds the powertrain control and fuel pump modules, wiring harness, accelerator pedal and some sensors. Buy the crate and kit together and you get a three-year/unlimited mileage warranty.

Sounds fantastic but what on earth is it for?

Anything you own that could do with nearly 700bhp really – but Dodge says the Hellcrate is aimed at pre-1976 street and off-road vehicles and is optimised for use with a manual gearbox.

It’s available worldwide with big sales expected in the Middle East and also parts of Europe including Germany, although 90% will inevitably end up in American cars.

SEMA

The Hellcrate debuted at the 2017 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas, shoehorned under the bonnet of a 1970 Superbird Tribute build (pictured above).

Can I put it in my race car?

Technically yes but Dodge didn’t suggest that would be its main use – Honda, however, is catering for the motorsport market with its own crate engine.

The Japanese manufacturer is now selling the 2.0-litre turbo unit from the Civic Type R as a standalone product, at a more reasonable £5,000.

You do get less bang for your buck than the Hellcrate, with a still-decent 302bhp and 295lb ft, and Honda is a bit more picky about who it sells its engine to, preferring customers with proper racing intentions.

That’s a shame really because it would be a terrifying yet exhilarating powerplant for a Caterham (Craterham?) kit car built.

Still, you could always get the Hellcrate instead…

Gallery: the best of SEMA 2017

By Adam Binnie

Contributor and new cars editor on our sister website Parkers.co.uk

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