The numbers from the factory give the car a 0-60 acceleration rate in less than six seconds, 0-100-0 times in about 16 seconds (that's start to stop), and a rapid slowdown of 60-0 in 110 feet; they didn't state what the negative g-forces were under deceleration. This is a car that will get scary fast and will stop in a hurry, plus it won't rattle nearly as much as your original Hemi car did under these conditions.

So what about our Tennessee bootlegging tale? Well, to be honest, I didn't have any real bootleggers listed in my cell phone, but I figured I'd gotten into enough hot water over the last 30 years that I could double as one. David needed to get the car back to Michigan in one piece, so I suggested we take it from the race track in the evening and go up into the mountains to the North Carolina border. The border used to stop a constable, but them dreaded federal revenuers in the days before radio kept going. I let him drive first since he had already let me beat on this thing a little bit earlier that day. Besides, I didn't want to be behind the wheel if things got out of hand.

I know the roads, but ol' David was way outside his Motor City element. This terrain can tame the quick and make the dead-the road mutates from four-lane to three-lane to two-lane and back, twists and turns with big rock faces and deep drop-offs in some places, and even has its share of over-the-road truckers, police speed traps, and lethargic farm equipment. Plus, the falling light would be enough to give the run a little flavor, though I reckon most bootleggers would have only been getting out of bed at this early hour.

To make sure our trip was authentic (you know, in case we did get stopped and had our pictures taken for a newspaper story), we picked up a couple of cases of Mason jars to throw in the trunk for good measure. We strapped ourselves in the Charger from our starting point at the local barbecue joint and headed east into the dusk.

The Charger SRT-8 rides on huge 20-inch rims with Brembo power disc brakes on all four corners. The front versions are actually assisted by the cooling ducts alongside each front road light. With a noticeable lack of brightwork, save for those monster rims and the SRT logos, plus a centered hoodscoop, it looks nasty even standing still. This one was done in Inferno Red Crystal Pearl Coat. If you haven't looked closely at the latest Charger yet, SRT-8 or otherwise, one thing that will strike you is this is a big car-the wheelbase is 120 inches, and the overall length is 200 inches bumper-to-bumper. It's a far cry from a C-Body Polara or Monoco, wasted space is not a problem.

The seats are available in either a conservative light or dark grey, with red trim and suede inserts for "rearend traction" at speed. The back seat is also large enough that you can set two more good ol' boys in the car without anyone getting too squeezed. The dash layout is well thought-out, and that 180-mph speedo is pretty cool . . . and functional. We won't admit to you that the SRT-8 can peg that puppy, but three out of four ain't bad.

Up into the mountains, the Charger was sticking very well to the three-lane road; David has some heavy B-Bodies with big-blocks at home, and he had no problem pushing the car hard through a series of ascending S-turns with a deft foot on the throttle. The exhaust note itself is again one of the most telling signs of the SRT package; from the outside it did not seem as loud, but from inside, coupled to the sense of acceleration, there was no need to ruin the thrill with the radio. Meanwhile, the big Goodyear Supercar F1 tires (245s in front/255s in the back) verified that the SRT credo remains functional performance.

By now, darkness had filled in the valleys and only the setting sun remained behind us. We got up to the state line Grille outside of Elk Park, North Carolina, at a pretty fast clip, then turned around and headed back. This time I took the wheel and thought it cool to look out over the menacing bulge on the hood surface. At reasonable speeds on dry pavement, the SRT-8 does handle like it's on rails. The windshield, rear glass, and mirrors make visibility easy, and the car responds almost instantly to terrain changes, thanks in part to ESP, the Electronic Stability Program associated with the chassis. Despite being a half-inch lower than the regular Charger, shocking stability and a lack of noticeable body roll are a big plus, and functionally the car is quite a bit sportier than its outward physical size would denote. Pretty impressive considering it had topped the dragway scales at Bristol earlier that day at 4,200-plus pounds without any occupants.