When launched, the Challenger SRT Demon 170 was the quickest production car on the quarter-mile, and Dodge even offered a parachute as an option for it.
The days of internal-combustion engines were numbered, and Dodge wasn't ready to ditch the famous Challenger SRT nameplate. Thus, it reworked the model and made it even more powerful and capable on the drag strip. Actually, it was so fast that the NHRA banned it from participating in official races because it lacked mandatory safety systems such as a roll cage and other devices.
At first sight, the Challenger SRT Demon 170 looked similar to the rest of the range. This seventh and final special edition for this nameplate featured standard front fenders but Widebody fender flares at the back. This was necessary to accommodate the 18-by-8-inch carbon-fiber front wheels and the 17-by-11-inch rear ones. These were wrapped in Mickey Thompson 245/55R18 ET Street front tires, and P315/50R17 ET Street R drag radials, respectively. The car's front fascia featured two round headlights on the outer sides of the grille, accompanied by fake headlamps on the inner side, which were just holes with an LED circle around them that fed the massive HEMI engine of the vehicle.
The car's interior was also special. It featured the "DEMON" specific badge next to the vents followed by the last four digit numbers from the VIN. But just because Dodge wanted to make this vehicle run in the eight-second time for the quarter-mile didn't mean that it stripped the interior. The car came fitted with AC and a Harman Kardon sound system.
But the technology underneath the car was more interesting. The 6.2-liter HEMI V8 engine was helped by a three-liter supercharger that boosted the power up to 1039 hp (1053 PS) when fed with 60% ethanol-gasoline fuel. On regular, 10% ethanol fuel, it produced 900 hp (912 PS).
Most carmakers don't even try to make a ten-second car, but Dodge decided to build one and overtake most supercars on the planet on the drag-strip.
While the European sportscar makers were trying to develop advanced suspension systems, enhance the dampers and tune the springs to ridiculously small details, Dodge introduced the SRT Demon for the Challenger and got banned from the drag-strips all over the country. NHRA forbids a car to enter a race if it can perform a sub-ten second run and is not fitted with appropriate safety devices. And the Demon was just a standard coupe.
The Demon sent a shock-wave through the market when it was tested on the track and, with its whining supercharger engine, stopped the clock at 9.65 seconds. Its wide gap on the hood and the two air-intakes that replaced the inbound headlights made the scream sound louder. Its lowered front end, fat rear tires, and slim front ones made it look like a hot-rod. And it was.
Inside, the Demon looked similar to its regular Challenger siblings but in standard mode featured one seat: for the driver. The side seat was offered as an option for one buck, and the same went for the rear bench. Dodge left the infotainment system installed to help the driver go through specific tuning sequences before starting a race and the AC to cool the air-intake manifold. While in standard mode, the Demon produced 707 hp, in full race mode with racing fuel, it unleashed 840 hp.
The Demon was the first production car that could perform a wheelie, lifting its front axle from the ground when launched. It also featured special technologies developed by the SRT department to help drivers achieve those sub-ten seconds times on the drag-strip.
The Challenger name returned on the pony-car battle in the U.S. in 2008 and it was constantly updated. The 2015 model came with a facelift and with a more powerful version: the SRT.
The Dodge Challenger was launched in a bad time when the world economy was on crisis and that didn't help the Chrysler finances at all. In 2011 most of Chrysler's shares were bought by Fiat and, in 2014, the FCA (Fiat Chrysler Alliance) was formed. Even if the Italians had some of the finest engine magicians in the world, they couldn't say no to what the American market wanted: a big, push-rod V8 engine under the hood of a car named Challenger.
The look of the car was mean even in its basic form with a small V6 under the hood. But the V8 SRT versions were even meaner. The Challenger was offered as the SRT 392 and the SRT Hellcat. The dual snorkels on the hood of 392 version resembled the 1971 Dodge Challenger and the wide and narrow grille featured the Challenger name on it, instead of Dodge. The Hellcat featured only one, bigger central air-intake. For the Hellcat, the inner driving light on the front left was replaced by an additional air intake to feed the 707 hp engine.
Inside, the dashboard for both versions resembled the design of the 1971 Challenger, with big and round analog dials, but with a TFT display fitted between them and an infotainment unit on the center stack.
One of the most important improvements for the car was the introduction of the 8-speed automatic transmission, which replaced the older 5-speed automatic. With some help from the European partners, the handling was improved so the car was no longer a drag-strip only car.
Dodge introduced the Challenger in February 2008, at a time when the world financial crisis started to bite the car industry.
The American carmaker introduced the third generation of the Challenger nameplate and managed to clean the shame brought by the second generation of the car, which was just a rebadged Mitsubishi Galant Lambda.
Ford proved that the retro-design trend works, and Dodge started to work on the car since 2005. It still used some of the underpinnings inherited from Mercedes-Benz, but it added more flavor and improved the platform. The car's design was a new version of the original 1970 Challenger, featuring a three-box bodywork and quad, round headlights. It even retained the coke-bottle styling with the taller rear quarter panels. Moreover, at the back, the car featured horizontal taillights. For the SRT8 version, the rear panel was covered with red trim, creating the image o a long, continuous light panel.
Inside, Dodge installed bucket seats with high-bolster areas for the front passengers. A tall center console was placed between them and sported a pair of cupholders, a storage compartment, and the gear lever. Inside the instrument cluster, the carmaker placed four white dials with red needles for the gauges, speedometer, and tachometer. At the back, the bench was good enough for two passengers. However, the tall transmission tunnel prevented the third one from sitting comfortably.
Under the hood, Chrysler already had a proper V8 engine: the 6.1-liter HEMI. Like the first-generation Challenger R/T, this one offered 425 horses (432 PS), which were sent to the rear wheels to obliterate the 245/20 ZR 20 tires.