Orders suspended for Challenger Hellcat

Burning rubber in a 707-hp muscle car
Burning rubber in a 707-hp muscle car

Sales of the 707-horsepower Dodge Challenger Hellcat have taken off a little too fast, apparently. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which makes the retro-styled uber-musclecar, has temporarily stopped taking orders while it sorts out a backlog.

So far, Fiat Chrysler has over 9,000 orders for the performance car, company spokesman Dan Reid said. About 2,200 Challenger Hellcats are already on the road.

Dodge dealers also stopped taking orders for the Charger Hellcat, a four-door sedan with the same engine.

Fiat Chrysler had recently issued a very unusual statement warning consumers that some Dodge dealers were taking orders for Hellcats they might not be able to deliver. Each dealer is only allowed to sell a certain number of Hellcats. But some dealers were taking orders -- and even cash deposits -- for more than that.

The temporary stop on ordering will give Fiat Chrysler time to sort out the tangle of customer orders and dealer allotments. The automaker has not decided how to handle cases in which dealers have taken orders in excess of their allotment.

It is also unclear when ordering of the cars will resume, Reid said.

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The Challenger Hellcat is the most powerful regular production musclecar ever made. It's powered by a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine but, despite all that power, it gets a relatively respectable 22 miles per gallon in highway driving. Customers get two key fobs to start the car. One -- a black fob -- limits power output to a mere 500 horsepower. The other, a red fob, allows the driver to use all 707 horsepower.

Challenger sales are up 60% the first two months of this year, while sales of the closely related Charger four-door sedan were up 23%.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Chrysler had suspended production of the cars. In fact, Chrysler has stopped taking orders but is still producing the cars.

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