The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon debuted this year at the New York International Auto Show, and it pretty much impressed everyone. Of course, it has its challengers, mostly after-factory vehicles, but we’re not here to duke it out. It’s time to take a look at the ol’ Demon and its journey from 1971 to now. You may be surprised to learn it wasn’t always a Challenger, and had a lot of controversy for several reasons.
1971 Dodge Dart Demon
In 1971 the Dodge Dart got a new addition to the lineup, and the new model was based off the Plymouth Duster platform, a Chrysler vehicle. However, Dodge called their model the Dodge Demon, and it was available in two trims – a 1971 Dodge Demon two-door coupe and a 1971 Dodge Demon 340 two-door coupe. Basically, one was more powerful than the other. Both featured a grille different than their parent vehicle, the Dart, as well as differing rear taillight assembly.
Buyers had the choice of fourteen body paint colors, and four High Impact Paint colors for a little extra style. The base model could be powered by either a 198 cubic inch slant six or a 318 cubic inch V-8. engine. A vinyl roof was optional, and vinyl front bench seat came standard with three available interior colors – blue, tan, or black. All of this, and the part that really brings a tear to our eyes? The base model was priced at a mere $2,343.
1971 Demon Controversy
Initially, the Demon was to be called the “Beaver”. This was short-lived after Chrysler’s marketing department learned it’s slang for a certain part of female anatomy. So, to avoid confrontation, it was renamed the Demon, but that turned out to be problematic as well. Some religious groups didn’t take kindly to the name, “Demon”, nor were they fans of the devilish cartoon character sporting a pitchfork as the Dodge Demon logo.
This was probably more so because when offering to show off the car, the term used was a “demon-stration”. Not the smartest move, but Dodge wasn’t going to crumble under the pressure and continued on with the Dodge Demon name.
1971 Dodge Dart Demon 340
If consumers wanted to take the Demon a little further, Mopar was around at the time and was willing to soup it up with a couple of performance parts. For a little less than $400, the Dodge Demon 340 came with a 275-hp 340 cubic inch V8 engine and heavy duty 3-speed manual transmission with floor shifter standard; a Rallye Suspension Package with heavy duty front torsion bars, front stabilizer bar, rear springs, and shock absorbers; 10 x 2.25 front drum brakes and 10 x 1.75 drums on the rear; E70 tread bias belted tires outfitted to 14-inch wheels, and an instrumentation cluster by Rallye that came with a 150 mph speedometer. Wow, that’s a lot.
Buyers could opt-in for a heavy duty 4-speed manual transmission or a high upshift 3-speed TorqueFlight automatic transmission. Yeah, TorqueFlite ain’t no spring-chicken, it’s been around. In 1971, Dodge Produced 69,861 Demon and 10,098 Dodge Demon 340’s.
1971 Demon 340 Controversy
The Demon 340 came with its own set of problems. New federal regulations on gas usage sprung up, and the Demon 340 had to drop its horsepower and torque to meet new demands, bringing the horsepower down to 240-hp. When they brought it back in 1972 however, it would seem that problems were still a foot.
1972 Dodge Dart Demon
The Dodge Dart Demon and Dodge Dart Demon 340 both returned in 1972. The base model had minor changes to the grille and generic side marker lights shared by all Dodge A-bodies. The Demon 340 was of course less powerful than before. In addition, more religious groups continued to attack Dodge, objecting to the name and smiling demon logo. This time around, with the surprisingly lack of popularity for the Demon, Dodge conceded. Only 39,062 Demon’s and 8,700 Dodge Demon 340’s were sold in 1972. Thus, Dodge changed the name of the Dodge Dart Demon to the Dodge Dart Sport for 1973.
2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon
Now the Dodge Demon is back as the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon and it is ruling the streets. It has the highest horsepower of any production car, highest g-force of any production car, first production car to pop a wheelie, and is the world’s fastest production car, able to accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 2.3 seconds, and able to cover a quarter mile in 11.7 seconds. Powered by a a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI Demon V8 engine, it produces 840 horsepower and 770 lb-ft of torque.
Constructed with a wide air-grabber hood scoop that induces over 1,000 cubic-feet of air per minute, the engine is wider than the SRT Hellcat engine and modified by 97 new parts, including a larger 2.7-liter supercharger, a new crankshaft, new connecting rods, new pistons, a new steel camshaft, and a new valvetrain. There’s also some Dodge heritage style there, wide-body fender flares, a wider stance, and street-legal drag-race tires. Oh, and it’s designed to run on 100+ unleaded high-octane fuel. The world is a little more progressive these days, so we’re hoping the name doesn’t offend anyone.
Now, the 2018 SRT Demon won’t be available for a bit, and old 1971 and 1972 Demons may be hard to come by. Sooner or later though, the SRT Demon will reclaim the streets from the SRT Hellcat.