What if you could take a powerful but thirsty muscle car and significantly lower its tailpipe emissions--while adding even more power?
That could very well be the best of both worlds.
It turns out there is such a solution for green-minded street racers, but it comes with one serious drawback.
The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is already one of the most powerful cars currently in production, but one shop managed to extract even better performance--by converting one to run on E85 ethanol.
SeriousHP Horsepower Performance claims to have extracted 753 horsepower from a Hellcat using the corn-based fuel, backing it up with a YouTube video of the car on a dynamometer.
In stock form, the Hellcat's 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V-8 produces 707 hp, but that's at the crank, without driveline losses factored in.Impressively, SeriousHP says the 753 hp figure is for power at the wheels--the E85-burning Hellcat actually produces 886 hp at the crank.
In addition, the E85 car produces 670 pound-feet of torque, up from the stock version's 650 lb-ft.
Besides the E85 conversion, the Challenger also received a new fuel pump, injectors, driveshaft, and ECU tune, which also helped improve performance.
That combination of copious horsepower and environmentally-friendly fuel sounds pretty good--but only if you can find a place to fill up with E85.
FlexFuel badge on E85-capable 2009 Chevrolet HHR
That's about 2,600 stations out of roughly 125,000.
Manufacturers do sell Flex-Fuel vehicles that can run on either E85 or gasoline, although most aren't as flashy as this converted Hellcat.
However, because of the lack of fueling stations--and general public disinterest in E85--the majority will likely never see a drop of ethanol in their tanks.
That doesn't matter to the carmakers, which receive extra Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) credits whether the Flex-Fuel vehicles they sell are actually run on E85 or not.