With an unprecedented 707 hp, 2015 Dodge Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcats break the rules for domestic performance cars.

Now, some Dodge dealers are at least bending some rules, too.

U.S. Dodge dealers have been told they may get only one Hellcat a month for the foreseeable future.

Yet one salesman at a small-town dealership in Ohio has taken deposits and placed orders from consumers nationwide for more than 200 Hellcats since last fall, Automotive News has learned.

Meanwhile, consumers on the enthusiast website Hellcat.org report being asked by some dealers for nonrefundable deposits of as much as $5,000 just to get in line to buy a Hellcat.

Some dealers are selling Hellcats by taking sealed bids from consumers. Other dealers are testing the auction-price limits for the hot-selling cars on sites such as eBay.

Several dealers nationwide are asking for up to $25,000 of pure-profit "market adjustments" to the Hellcats' sticker price. The price increases, which are legal, are common on the websites of dealers who show unsold Hellcats in their inventory or those who sold them on eBay above the sticker price.

In a company blog Feb. 27, Gualberto Ranieri, the chief spokesman for Fiat Chrysler, took the unusual step of chastising "a handful" of dealers for what he called "unscrupulous" practices surrounding the sale of Hellcats.

Ranieri warned that some of the more egregious dealer actions could threaten franchise agreements or even may be illegal.


Long line
Ranieri didn't identify whom he was referring to, yet Bob Frederick could be on the list.

Frederick is the "performance car manager and Dodge Challenger specialist" at Columbiana Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram in Columbiana, Ohio, a town of about 6,000 people between Youngstown, Ohio, and Pittsburgh.

He is a lifelong Dodge enthusiast and a former dealer himself. His family's dealership was one of 789 Chrysler Group stores rejected during the 2009 bankruptcy.

Frederick won't say exactly how many deposits for sold orders he's taken for Hellcats. Sources put the number at over 200. A sold order is one in which a customer has signed a purchase agreement but hasn't taken delivery of a vehicle.

The 2015 Charger SRT Hellcat starts at $65,290 while the Challenger SRT Hellcat starts at $61,090. Both prices include delivery and gas-guzzler fees.

"I've only delivered a few. I haven't gotten clearly what I thought we would. I got totally caught by surprise" by the demand and lack of inventory, Frederick said. "I'm confident that Chrysler's going to get this figured out. The good thing is the conversation wouldn't even be going on if people didn't want the car."

Frederick says the deposits he's taken are fully refundable and that when the dealership gets a Hellcat, it will deliver it immediately and sell it no higher than the sticker price.

Frederick said he's been open with his customers -- many of whom previously bought a Challenger or high-performance SRT model from him, he said -- about where they are on the list and that it may be a while before they get their cars.

"I do have a legion of customers out there. People tend to gravitate toward you if you're honest," Frederick said. "I'm not going to change my values. Whether I'm getting 50 [Hellcats] a month or one a month, I'm just not going to screw up my reputation over that."

Frederick said he believes that Dodge will "get this figured out."


Supply and demand
Dodge dealers so far have delivered more than 2,200 Hellcats, and consumers want many more.

With almost no marketing, Dodge brand head Tim Kuniskis said Fiat Chrysler has received more than 9,000 orders for Hellcats -- double what the automaker had planned for after considering annual sales of such competitive cars as the Corvette Z06 and the Mustang GT.

"There's nothing going on that couldn't be fixed with more Hellcats, and we're working on that," Kuniskis told Automotive News.

Supplier constraints have meant that most of the roughly 2,300 U.S. Dodge dealers will get no more than one Hellcat per month -- and often not even that -- at least for the time being.

"The consumers are getting frustrated," says Don Lee, president of Lee Auto Malls, which operates two Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram stores in Maine. So far, his stores have immediately sold the two Hellcats they have received, both at sticker price.

"We've taken four or five deposits. We'd take a lot more, but we can't give the customer any solid information. After the fourth or fifth deposit, we've got to look the customer in the face and say, 'It could be a year or more,'" Lee said.

Kuniskis credits most dealers with managing the outsized consumer demand for Hellcat-powered Challengers and Chargers with an inventory allocation system that seems byzantine to outsiders. The complicated allocation system takes into account items such as total Dodge sales and whether previous Hellcats sat unsold on the dealership lot for more than four days.

Kuniskis said, "We know customers don't understand allocation systems. For months, they've been telling us to be transparent. But they don't necessarily care about transparency, they care about when they're going to get their car."

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