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High-Tech Horsepower: Track-Ready Muscle Cars Hit the Stage

Along with the Ford GT and the F-150 Raptor, Ford introduced the Shelby GT350 arriving later this year based on the all-new 2015 Mustang. Legendary racer and tuner Carroll Shelby started modifying Mustangs in 1965 by increasing power, removing weight, and tuning the suspensions for racing. This latest interpretation continues in that spirit using an exclusive all-new 5.2-liter dual-overhead-cam V8 with a first-ever flat-plane crankshaft in a Ford production engine.

With blazing colors and big V8 engines, nothing gets enthusiasts excited about a brand like muscle cars. Here are some of the latest track-tuned terrors you can see at the Chicago Auto Show.

For 2015, Dodge released the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat with an all-new 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 engine, the most powerful V8 Chrysler has ever produced with a staggering 707 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque. It is available with either a six-speed manual or all-new eight-speed automatic transmission. It comes with two key fobs, a red and a black one; the black one limits the engine’s output. “We’ve had a couple Hellcats come through already,” said Cary Bosak, president of Bosak Dodge in Merrillville. “They were presold. We had a list of 30 or 40 people interested in it. Everybody knows about it and when they see it they want to talk about it. When we bring one into the showroom you can really hear it roar.”

The 2015 Challenger SRT has a 485-horsepower 392 Hemi V8. All Challengers have been updated for 2015 with a new interior that has a new instrument panel and gauge cluster and new seats. New front and rear fascia that recall the grille and taillights of the 1971 model. The SRTs have new forged aluminum wheels, and the largest standard front brake package ever offered on a Chrysler vehicle.

After that, Dodge announced the Hellcat option for the refreshed 2015 Dodge Charger sport sedan, with the eight-speed automatic. The uprated 392 Hemi is also available for the Charger SRT.

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Ford announced a plan to bring twelve new performance vehicles to the lineup by 2020, and dealers are excited. “The brand is just going to explode,” said Pete Blagojevic, general manager of Art Hill Ford in Merrillville. “Realistically, since Alan Mulally took over we’ve already gotten a new Fusion, Focus, and Escape. We have new Edge coming. The design is on top of the world. The quality is top notch. Ford is in a fantastic position to gain market share.”

Along with the Ford GT and the F-150 Raptor, Ford introduced the Shelby GT350 arriving later this year based on the all-new 2015 Mustang. Legendary racer and tuner Carroll Shelby started modifying Mustangs in 1965 by increasing power, removing weight, and tuning the suspensions for racing. This latest interpretation continues in that spirit using an exclusive all-new 5.2-liter dual-overhead-cam V8 with a first-ever flat-plane crankshaft in a Ford production engine. This is an arrangement typically only found in exotic sports and racing cars. Its high-revving and free-breathing characteristics make this the most powerful naturally-aspirated production Ford engine ever with over 500 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque. Suspension modifications include revised spring rates and bushings, a lower stance, and wider front track. It’s also the first Ford to use MagneRide dampers, which can change suspension performance in 10 milliseconds based on constant reading of vehicle data.

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The Shelby GT350R introduced in Detroit last month takes it to the next level as the most track-capable Mustang ever. Another first for a major automaker is carbon fiber wheels for the GT350R, which reduce unsprung weight and are stiffer than aluminum, for improved steering feel and handling. As a true track car, there are extensive aerodynamic enhancements and weight is further reduced by removing the air conditioning, stereo, rear seats, and other items. However, the optional Electronics Package is available with air conditioning, an eight-inch touch screen with navigation, seven-speaker audio system and more.

Decatur, Indiana-based Lingenfelter Performance Engineering returns to the show this year. The company has been specializing in tuning General Motors vehicles for over 42 years. Two Lingenfelter-tuned Corvettes will be on display in the Greater Chicago Area Chevrolet Dealers exhibit during The Chicago Auto Show. There will be a 2014 gold C7 Lingenfelter supercharged Corvette that puts out 650 horsepower and the 2015 Laguna blue Lingenfelter supercharged Z06 that has been enhanced to 750 horsepower. A Lingenfelter-supercharged Reaper Silverado pickup will also be shown.

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