FCA is bringing the Demon back to life, this time affixing the devilish name to the Dodge Challenger body. Although we’ve already seen the actual production car, the Dodge folks made us keep our mouths shut over a boiling vat of racing fuel. Dodge has released a series of short videos to tease their latest ghoulish creation, hinting that the 2018 Challenger SRT Demon will be the most unique muscle car ever produced. Trust us — each one of those videos contains several hints about what the next Demon is all about.
Ghosts of Mopars Past
To understand why Dodge chose the name “Demon,” we have to go back to a time when Mopar muscle dominated the streets. In the early 1970s, the Chrysler Corporation offered some of the most coveted performance cars in the world, including the legendary Plymouth Barracuda, as well as the Dodge Charger and Challenger. As desirable as these cars were to many young drivers at the time, price tags ranging from $2,700 up to $5,000 kept them out of reach. The irony that these same cars now fetch anywhere from $50,000 to $500,000 at auction isn’t lost on us. If you’re lucky, one will show up on Autotrader Classics for a reasonable price and with the claim it needs “a little work.” Don’t hold your breath — there’s currently a 1970 Hemi Challenger for sale with an asking price of $239,000.
However, back in 1971, Dodge was looking for a way to serve up power and performance at a budget price. They found their answer in the 1971 Dodge Demon.
The Demon was a copy of the Plymouth Duster, a 2-door pillared coupe with fastback styling that made it slightly sporty. These were entry-level cars, having a standard 225 “Slant-Six” engine and 3-speed manual transmission. Although not very fast, buyers could order the same car with a 318 cubic-inch V8. Base prices for the Demon started right around $2,300. However, the version that best served its demonic namesake was the Demon 340, a wickedly fast coupe powered by a 340 cu-in V8 pumping out 275 horsepower and 340 lb-ft of torque. The package also contained a 3-speed floor-shift transmission, a dual exhaust, rally gauges with a 150-mph speedo, and a beefed-up suspension. Buyers could further customize the Demon with an upgraded bucket-seat interior, rally wheels, a matte-black hood with massive dual-scoop air intakes, a 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission and a padded 3-spoke steering wheel. We can tell you that the new Challenger Demon will come with a ton more cool features, but we’re not sure Dodge can match the budget-friendly price even if you convert it to 2017 dollars. If you think about names like Challenger, Demon and Hemi, this latest car will be the ultimate expression of Mopar power in look, function, heritage and speed.
Production in 1971 topped 10,000 units but by 1972 had fallen to 8,700 cars. Partially due to the oil embargo and partially to the cute little devil-and-pitchfork sticker that put off some Americans, Dodge changed the Demon name to Dart Sport for 1973, although many of the popular features carried over.
The Devil Is in the Details
We know the new Demon will be based on the Dodge Challenger Hellcat, quite possibly with even more muscle than the 707 horsepower now available. That means power will come from a supercharged 6.8-liter HEMI V8, but that’s about all we can confirm. The rest of what we know comes from those four teaser videos and a kind of secret society meeting in the belly of the Mopar world — also known as Auburn Hills, Michigan. Those videos can be viewed on YouTube.
The first video, entitled “Cage,” shows a snarling CGI beast that breaks from its cage to devour the streets. The message to viewers is clear: The Demon is going to be unlike anything Dodge has released to date. The next video, “Reduction,” hints at substantial weight reduction, as much as 200 pounds, but also a much wider body with drag-racing-style wide rear tires. A cutaway also shows a wider hood scoop, bigger brakes, upgraded suspension components, structural body reinforcements and what appears to be a gutted interior with only a driver’s seat. Do we have the makings of drag racer here?
The third video, entitled “Wide Body,” confirms our early suspicions, displaying 18 x 11-inch wheels wrapped in 315/40R18 Nitto NT05R tires designed exclusively for the Demon. Wide wheel flares add 3.5 inches to the Demon’s width. In the fourth and final video, “Crate,” we are treated to the Demon’s real allure: a purpose-built, street-legal drag racer that allows for customer customization either at the time of order or once they own the car. We’re guessing these upgrades will allow the Demon to go from street performer to drag-strip racer or to settle for something in between the two extremes. In Crate, we also see a custom-painted case containing Direct Connection Demon Performance Parts, Demon-branded track tools, matching Demon spare wheels and a Demon Track Pack system.
So it appears what Dodge is cooking up will be a bona fide drag-race-ready Challenger, a car so powerful and so rare we have to wonder how many will ever see the drag strip and how many will go straight to storage. After all, if the original Challenger can appreciate by 1000 percent or more, just imagine what this little devil will bring 50 years down the road.
Dodge will soon be showing the new Demon to the public at the absolute last place we think of when the topic of drag racing comes up: New York City.