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I've seen the first blue bird of spring.

It has eyes that burn white, nostrils the size of basketballs, and a song like King Kong snorting jalapeno peppers. Upon closer inspection it's a Blue Pearl-coated, 6.4-liter, 2015 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack with a shaker hood scoop. But its April sighting is just as refreshing.

Congratulations, Detroiters, our tribe has survived another Arctic winter, the thaw has come, and muscle cars are awakening from their loooong hibernation. Right on cue, Dodge is bringing another variation of its wicked Challenger lineup. Dodge, of course, is the King of Muscle cars these days, sporting more sinew than any other pony car in history.

The flock is led by the insane, 707-horspower SRT Hellcat, a car that sprints the quarter mile as fast as a Lamborghini Diablo. I cruised the Woodward Dream Cruise in a brooding, gray model last year, the monster under its hood betrayed only by the tiny, side-mounted Hellcat logo and three hood scoops rather than the twin openings found on its V-8 R/T brothers.

The Scat Pack Shaker is for muscle car enthusiasts who find the Hellcat too subtle.

The shaker rises out of the hood like a cobra summoned from a snake charmer's basket. Carbon black racing stripes stretch nose to tail. A black splitter curls along the Challenger's chin like Beelzebub's beard. Turn the key and wake the dead.

I rumbled down my neighborhood street in the Shaker on a sunny April Saturday and kids came out of their homes like Dickens orphans who had just seen an ice cream truck. This car should be an amusement park ride at Cedar Point. I buckled in four boys and they were shrieking with joy before I was even out of the cul-de-sac. By the time we hit Telegraph Road they were chanting a chorus of "BURNOUT! BURNOUT!" I laid a 50-foot rubber patch out of a stoplight and it was bedlam. Eight cylinders and four kids roaring at the top of their lungs.

Ah, spring.

But it's not just the kids that come running at the sight of this blue bird. This beauty is a cop magnet. In a good way. Not one but two police buddies took turns behind the wheel. Want to see a Challenger driven hard? Give it to men in uniform who have taken hours of pursuit training in Dodge muscle cars. These boys can drive. Foot-through-the-floor, lightning-shift, tire-smoking confidence behind the wheel.

I'm sorry, officer, but I'll have to ask you to get out of the car.

I cruised the Woodward strip on a glorious Saturday Night. Everyone was there. Camaro ZL1s, Corvette C7s, Pontiac GTOs, Mustang GTs. The Blue Pearl Shaker still stood out. The boys at Detroit Area Modern Mopar club flagged me down as I drove by their Dairy Mat hangout.

They know what this bad boy represents.

The Scat Pack Shaker is muscle car legend after all. When the original Challenger debuted in 1968 to dropped jaws, Dodge promoted the Scat Cat Club featuring a newsletter (for Gen Yers that's like a blog but on paper) – so owners could share their Dodge muscle tips. The Scat Pack even had its own logo — a hot-rodding bee on wheels — which members proudly displayed in their rear windows. When Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis unveiled the remade Challenger in 2014, he not only introduced the world to the ferocious Hellcat — he re-introduced the Scat Pack legend, complete with updated logo.

"If you missed the first muscle car era, don't miss the second," Kuniskis likes to say to anyone within earshot. He should know. The barrel-chested motormouth spits out Challenger facts faster than a nail gun and has just restored his own 383-cubic inch 1971 Challenger complete with shaker. If he weren't running Dodge 24/7 he'd be cruising Woodward Saturday nights talking Scat trash.

"I'm amending my previous statement," he says reflecting over his '15 stable. "This IS the Golden Era of the muscle car."

Forty-five years ago, a 7.2-liter hemi would trip the 0-60 wire at 6.2 seconds. Today the base V-6 Challenger with half the displacement will match that. Throw the Scat Pack's 6.4-liter hemi under the hood and the 2015 car will get there in 4-point-4. Golden Era indeed.

What's more, the Scat Pack Shaker offers an interior as plush as its exterior is aggressive. So while the huge, 9.5-inch tires melt the asphalt on the outside, you can relax in leather seat comfort (complete with orange Scat Pack embroidery, natch) inside. Surrounded by brushed aluminum accents and chrome-bezeled instrument panels that cradle the segment's best, UConnect infotainment system featuring apps like iHeartRadio, Pandora, Travel link, and WiFi hotspot.

Oh yes, and a performance app that records your 0-60, 0-100, and ¼ mile times. I can see you might need a few cop friends.

But perhaps the most telling figure is the Scat Pack price. After all, few wallets can afford the $60,990 Hellcat. Where some performance cars measure horsepower per liter, the shaker sets the standard for horsepower-per-dollar. Few cars provide this much bang for the buck.

The Scat Pack starts at just $38,890, making it the top 400-horses-for-under-$40K on the market. The 426-horsepower, 5.0-liter Camaro starts at $39,295. The 435-horse Mustang at $37,750.

Dodge will yammer on about how affordable the Challenger is at the fuel pump too. Twenty-three mpg highway according to EPA. Balderdash. You won't come close. It's like marrying Kate Upton with a vow of celibacy. You drive the Shaker with a lead foot. I got 13.6 mpg during my week with this sexpot.

No one will mistake it for a sports car either. Sure it has the latest in 21st century, electronic stability wizardry, but the 4,100-pound behemoth's chassis is dated. It's a pig when the road turns curvy. Want to attack a twisty Up North country road? Drop your $40K on a sporty new 'Stang. Want to snort Priuses through the shaker's twin nostrils on Woodward? This is your pet. "The most outrageous car in our lineup," says Kuniskis.

"I can't remember when I had this much fun in a car," said my buddy Tom after 15 fast and furious minutes behind the wheel.

The blue bird is singing. Spring is finally here. You're welcome.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

Vehicle type: Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, five-passenger two-door coupe

Price: $38,890 base ($45,780 as tested)

Power plant: 6.4-liter, HEMI V-8

Power: 485 horsepower, 475 pound-feet of torque

Transmission: Six-speed manual (optional eight-speed automatic)

Performance: 0-60 mph, 4.2 seconds (4.4 sec. for manual, Car & Driver)

Weight: 4,082 pounds

Fuel economy: EPA 14 mpg city/23 mpg highway/17 mpg combined

Report card

Highs: Volcanic acceleration; Heavenly blue wardrobe

Lows: Gas guzzler tax; A handfull in the twisties

Overall:

Grading scale

Excellent

Good

Fair

Poor

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