If you’re the proud owner of a Hemi-powered Dodge Charger, Challenger, or Chrysler 300, you probably love getting that sweet baby up to highway speeds in a hurry. However, you’re also likely fond of having the ability to stop it whenever you wish and not entering into a real-life version of the movie Speed.
We’ve got some unfortunate news. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, you might have to take a couple of extra steps to avoid that being a possibility. Fiat Chrysler has issued a recall on 2014-2016 Chrysler 300s, Dodge Chargers, and Dodge Challengers equipped with the 5.7-liter V8 and Mopar Stage 1 Performance Package powertrain control module. The 2018 Challenger SRT Demon is also affected by the recall.
Apparently, the PCM is sick and could screw with the cruise control system. You’ll definitely want to get this one fixed as soon as possible. FCA claims the defect may not just prohibit cruise control from disengaging — there’s also a possibility it could cause the car to accelerate unpredictably. That’s about the last thing you want an 800-horsepower car to do without you giving it the go-ahead.
While Fiat Chrysler may share its bed with the Italians and has factories all over the planet, it maintains several of the most unapologetically American brands in existence. It’s difficult to imagine someone purchasing Ram or Jeep products without having a soft spot for the United States and it’s flat-out impossible to envision a Dodge owner who doesn’t have a glovebox full of American flags and a handgun.
Whether or not that represents reality (it doesn’t) is irrelevant, because purchasing these brands means buying into that image to some degree — unless you bought a Dodge Journey.
A large part of the American experience, at least historically, is excess. In the car world that means size, which is everything. Bigger cars, bigger engines, bigger numbers, bigger noises. While most domestic manufacturers followed this recipe fairly closely over the last 10 years, Dodge seems obsessed with it. The company keeping the muscle car legacy alive and continues attempting to raise the bar beyond what seems sane. It’s absolutely wonderful.
Dodge uploaded a teaser video last night that appeared to indicate Fiat Chrysler’s performance division is working on another ludicrously overpowered vehicle. In it, we see a modern Challenger blasting down the salt flats against an auditory backdrop of a raging V8 with loads of supercharger whine.
The Challenger loses focus as it approaches the camera, but we can just barely make out the car’s twin hood scoops before things faded to black. Then the text “LOCK: RED797_19” flashes for a moment, with the reassurance that whatever we’ve just witnessed is coming soon. Dodge makes a habit of issuing cryptic teasers for his highest horsepower models. The prelude to the Hellcat and Demon felt a little like playing Myst, and this latest teaser rekindled that sense of intrigue and frustration.
Fortunately, we already have details on — and photos of — this new Mopar beast.
The final 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon rolled off the production line at Fiat Chrysler’s Brampton Assembly Plant on Wednesday. While the Ontario facility continues building the Chrysler 300, as well as Dodge’s Charger and Challenger, the drag-focused Demon’s time on Earth has passed.
Currently a black-on-black beast, the car will be repainted “Viper Red” before joining the last Dodge Viper ever made at the Barrett-Jackson Northeast Auction. The duo will be part of a packaged lot, representing the final chance to own either vehicle with no miles on the odometer, with all proceeds from the sale benefitting the United Way.
Mopar fans are among the most steadfast automotive enthusiasts in history. Their ability to openly express their love for post-war luxury, classic muscle, and turbocharged compacts from the 1980s remains unrivaled. While an advocate for General Motors or Ford can certainly appreciate disparate models within their chosen nameplate, Mopar enthusiasts frequently push the envelope of sanity — at least, that’s the stigma.
If you’re unfamiliar with the stereotype, log into any car forum and write that you’re considering swapping an LS motor into a Plymouth, Dodge, or Chrysler. Congratulations, you just made a dozen new enemies. On the flip side of that coin, owning a vintage Mopar can win you a lot of respect within the community. While not equal in terms of prestige, owning a Dodge Aspen wagon will still net you loads of brownie points with anyone driving a Coronet Super Bee Six Pack or Omni GLH-S. Hell, at this stage in the game you might even get a thumbs up for buying a Plymouth Reliant.
Unfortunately, Chrysler’s immediate future doesn’t look nearly as bright as its often dicey past. That’s especially true for Dodge. The Viper is dead, the Challenger can’t go on forever, and annual sales are less than half of what they were 10 years ago. But its fiercely loyal enthusiast community remains, and they’ll have an opportunity to purchase the final examples of what may end up being the brand’s two most illustrious models.
It’s always risky naming a car or ship after a denizen of the dark underworld. You could run afoul of Christian groups, as Chrysler did in the early 1970s with its original Dodge Demon (later renamed Dart Sport), or possibly meet a much grimmer fate, as explorer Sir John Franklin did with his two ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror.
On a happier note, the Dodge division saw mostly positive PR from its decision to turn its already potent 707-horsepower Challenger SRT Hellcat up to “11.” The 2018 Demon and its associated Demon Crate drag kit became instant collector items. And why not? The Demon was a full-size two-door sedan making 808 hp (on premium gas) that you could order with a single seat.
Despite repeated promises that the model would be a one-time-only thing, however, rumors exist about a 2019 run.
There’s only one reason for the Dodge Demon to exist, and that’s to go fast in a straight line, preferably at a dragstrip.
Which is why I haven’t fully understood the point of the car, at least up until now. And maybe I still don’t. I mean, how many dedicated drag racers are out there that want to spend a pretty penny ($85K, give or take) on something that’s factory-ready for the strip and easily streetable? Back in the muscle car days, sure, that was a thing, but today’s drag racers are probably either finding a cheap Fox-body Mustang and decking it out, or, if they have the means, going whole hog and buying something from an OEM that isn’t street legal.
That’s just a guess on my part – I’m not as in tune with those who drag race on weekends as I’d like to be. Maybe there’s been a clamor for a car just like the Demon for a long time. Either way, Dodge isn’t going to build many – just 3,000 for the U.S. and 300 for Canada.
I can understand why the Challenger, including the Hellcat version, exists – it looks cool on Woodward, the V8 models sound badass, and it’s the closest thing FCA has to a “pony car” (in my ideal world, Dodge would sell a true pony car alongside the Challenger, but I’m no Sergio). But unlike most sports cars, which can give you at least a taste of their track prowess on the right public road, the Demon’s skillset can’t be safely applied to the street.
Then someone tossed me the red key.
Even though we knew the limited supply of Dodge’s SRT Demon would drive up prices astronomically, Fiat Chrysler still made a valiant effort to reduce markups by prioritizing deliveries to dealerships offering the vehicle at (or below) MSRP. Unfortunately, the plan didn’t work as intended.
This was especially true after some dealerships found a workaround by having intermediaries on eBay auction off the right to buy one of their Demon allocations. Instead of selling the car above the $86,090 sticker, which forces Dodge to omit custom nameplates and other Demon perks, they’re allowing prospective buyers to bid on the “privilege” of purchasing a Demon at the manufacturer’s stipulated value — for thousand of dollars.
The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat gets a new variant for the 2018 model year, and it just happens to be the widebody model track day enthusiasts have been clamoring for since the car’s initial announcement.
Borrowing the fender flares and front lip from the Dodge Demon, the Hellcat keeps its 707-horsepower supercharged V8 while adding extra room for more rubber. Since the supercharged Challenger is notoriously poor at transferring its power to the pavement, the wider 305/35ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero performance tires allow for superior cornering and straight-line speed.
Dodge claims the widebody shaves 0.3 seconds off the “normal” Hellcat’s 1/4 mile time for a lean ETA of 10.9 seconds. It also says the 305mm rubber helps the beast claw its way from 0.93 lateral g to 0.97 — while not earth-shattering, it’s still a major improvement. FCA has also changed the steering to an electric unit with selectable presets, claiming improved road feel, precision, and usability at lower speeds.
As Hollywood writes it, when you make a deal with Satan, he bestows onto you whatever you covet most in exchange for your soul. However, there is usually some dark twist that ruins the overall experience long before you can settle into hell’s never-ending torment. If you ask him for money, it’ll be stolen from the mob and they’ll hunt you down. If you ask him for power, he’ll make you the next Adolf Hitler. The devil’s bargain is a well-established trope — you get what you asked for but cannot fully enjoy it thanks to some twisted fine print.
Fiat Chrysler’s SRT Demon Customer Acknowledgment contract functions similarly. Perhaps it’s a necessary evil because it specifically prohibits the brainless activities which would absolutely result in your 800+ horsepower drag car killing you or a loved one. That said, you could ignore all of the rules FCA carefully chose to include within the contract. But, when you do, the manufacturer has itemized and initialed proof where it explicitly forbid you from doing so.
Dodge announced pricing for the 2018 Challenger SRT Demon today — not that it matters, as dealers will do everything in their powers to not adhere to its MSRP. However, the starting point for their gouging occurs at $84,995, which includes the gas guzzler tax but not a $1,095 destination fee.
The good news is there are loads of optional extras that only cost a dollar, even though those are gimmick prices already rolled into the vehicle’s initial value. That won’t make it any less fun when you tell your neighbor about it, right before you wrap your freshly minted Demon in a car cover and store it for eternity.
Let’s get into what an extra dollar can get you on this 840-horsepower garage queen!
After the reveal of Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Dodge Demon at the New York Auto Show, I thought all the hooplah would be over. We all did. Little did I know Automotive News’ editorial board would pen a screed calling for the Demon’s banishment from American roads, which then caused others to cry foul at the bylineless editorial, and subsequently triggered Larry Vellequette — the author of the original piece — to double down on his thoughts, name attached.
In the last piece, Mr. Vellequette claims, “It is still a stupid idea for Fiat Chrysler to outfit the Dodge Demon as a high-performance drag racer and then sell it to the motoring public in a form that makes it inherently more dangerous off the track.”
He’s not wrong. Drag radials come fitted to the Demon from the factory, and he claims they’re “prone to lose traction in even a light morning mist under that much torque — regardless of electronic intervention.” I won’t argue with that.
But I will argue with the logic upon which Mr. Vellequette bases his call for exorcising this Demon from America’s roads, and who he thinks should do something about it.
Earlier this week, I told you about the fellow who was convinced the Dodge Demon was unsafe at any speed. I did not agree, of course; the Demon has been carefully designed to present considerably less risk to its occupants than, say, a swing-axle Beetle in high-wind conditions.
Which leads to a question: if the Demon is not the deadliest car of recent times, what is?
Update: We’ve redacted a sentence from this editorial. You can find an explanation here.
Jay-Z and Beyonce got nothing on the marketing people from Dodge. The last low-volume vehicle to get this kind of publicity and raise this kind of ruckus was probably the LaFerrari, which was definitely not based on a $29.99/day rental car. (Trust me, I’ve driven the LaFerrari.) It will also toss, by my back-of-envelope estimation, somewhere between $100m and $200m into the company coffers, even if you don’t take into account all the lower-spec Challengers — even Hellcats — the Demon will sell just by drawing traffic into dealers.
The media response to the Demon has been half predictable and half rather refreshing.
The predictable part is the Motor Trend-style cheerleading, which in this case has spread far beyond MT because — let’s face it — anybody can get excited over a nine-second street car. (By contrast, it takes a seasoned hack, erm, a real pro to get excited about the Bolt.) The refreshing half of the commentary has come from the half of the media that likes to style itself as an un-elected and un-appointed fiscal watchdog of the industry. These are the people who whine a certain car “won’t sell” or “doesn’t make money” as if they are major shareholders of GM instead of underwater-basketweaving-degree-holders sitting in rent-controlled apartments on a mountain of student debt.
Normally, these people would be up in arms that an automaker has taken time off from the critical business of building suppository-shaped RX300 clones to briefly indulge in a bout of misguided enthusiasm about automobiles. In this case, however, the Demon is so obviously going to be wildly profitable that they’ve been forced to shut up and/or join the chorus of approbation. Except, that is, for one crusty old relic of the legacy media who’s found a new tune to play.
When we announced that the Dodge Demon would have a MSRP below six-figures, the comments section was immediately populated with discussions on how that might not be the case once the strip-focused Challenger arrives in showrooms. The limited supply of early Hellcats came at a significant premium and, for a time, even gently used models were going for the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of a new one.
Gouging on the Demon seems even more assured since FCA has stated that it will be limited production to a mere 3,300 units in North America. Obviously, there is no way in hell to avoid dealer markup on a vehicle like this one but Dodge seems to think it has found a way to attenuate the matter.