Seemingly Underpowered Dodge Demon Gaps Pontiac Firebird in Classic Drag Race

The Dodge Challenger Demon, introduced in 2017 and discontinued after just a few months, is already a legendary muscle car. But Dodge has used the Demon name before. It happened in the 1970s and it was essentially a trim level for the Dart. The old Demon is far from famous, but it's slowly becoming a full-fledged collectible.
1972 Dodge Demon vs 1968 Pontiac Firebird 1 photo
Photo: Cars And Zebras/YouTube
These cars weren't exactly valuable back in the day, so many of them eventually lived a rusty life and were retired in car graveyards. But some Demons were a bit more lucky, were looked after, and lived to see the 21st century in excellent condition. This mint-condition, two-tone example, which was recently raced in a Pure Stock Muscle Car Drag Race event, is one of them.

Meeting a mint-condition 1972 Demon in the metal is news in itself, but the really big news here is that the seemingly underpowered coupe won not one, not two, but three drag races against a more potent 1968 Pontiac Firebird 400. Yes, that's a rather unlikely drag race between a Pontiac built during the golden era of muscle cars and a Mopar launched right after emission regulations started choking V8 engines in the early 1970s.

Let me explain. In 1972, Dodge was no longer offering the big 7.0-liter Hemi and 7.2-liter Six-Pack engines. The biggest mill was the 5.6-liter, the same one that hides under the hood of this Demon. Rated at 240 horsepower and 290 pound-feet, it was a far cry from the 400+ engines offered until 1971.

The 1968 Pontiac Firebird 400, on the other hand, featured a 6.6-liter V8 unaltered by emission restrictions and generated 335 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of twist. The videos shows net ratings for the Demon and gross rating for the Firebird, which means that the gap is actually a bit smaller, but the Pontiac still packs notably more punch.

But the extra oomph doesn't help the Firebird much on the drag strip. Despite being more powerful, the Pontiac loses three races to the Demon. But the secret to the Dodge's unlikely win doesn't lie in the power ratings or the fact that it boasts a lower curb weight. It's the gear ratio.

The Firebird comes with a 3.08 gear ratio, while the Demon boasts a 3.91 ratio. To keep things simple, a 3.08 gear ratio is better suited for highway cruising, whereas a 3.91 ratio translates into a sportier setup. The latter works better on the quarter-mile, so the Demon is better suited for short races. The Firebird would definitely win a half-mile duel.

Anyway, it's a cool race between two muscle cars that look pristine and sound amazing with the pedal to the metal. This race will give you a taste of the good ol' days.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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