Today, thanks to the speed-crazy madness of the folks at Dodge and SRT, we know the “Demon” as the high-powered, devilish sibling of the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. But roughly a decade before that car broke cover at the 2017 New York International Auto Show, the “Demon” moniker had an entirely different meaning within the annals of Chrysler: a two-seater roadster conceived as a less-powerful, less-expensive Dodge Viper.
Premiering at the 2007 Geneva Motor Show, the Dodge Demon concept was a two-seater drop-top powered by a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder “World Engine” capable of up to 172 horsepower and 165 lb-ft, just like in the [*gag*] Dodge Caliber. It was built on a modified version of the Chrysler Crossfire’s chassis, lengthened by four inches and widened by two, primarily using materials that would make it feasible for production – because believe it or not, Chrysler was open to actually producing the budget sportscar. Were it sent to production, it might have competed with the likes of the Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky and Mazda MX-5 Miata.
Clearly, Chrysler wasn’t able to build a promising enough business case for it, and the Dodge Demon was relegated to the heap of automotive history’s “if-onlys” – enticing, memorable concepts and design studies that just weren’t meant to be. Part of that might be because of the difficulty in finding a suitable platform; according to Car and Driver, Chrysler had never intended to base the production Dodge Demon on the Crossfire’s chassis, even before Daimler and Chrysler split. (The Crossfire was based on the first-generation Mercedes-Benz SLK.)
C/D reported in May, 2007 that Chrysler had been in talks with China’s Chery Automobile Company about securing a suitable RWD B-car platform, but negotiations may have been disrupted with Chrysler’s sale. And of course, lest we forget, a massive economic downturn was then just around the corner, meaning that even if Chrysler had find a suitable platform for the Dodge Demon, the project likely would have been binned before too long anyway.
In any event, Fiat Chrysler has found a new, perhaps more-suitable use for the “Demon” name: a quarter-mile-warrior version of the Dodge Challenger with nearly five times the horsepower, and far more presence and performance. Yet we can’t help but feel a tinge of sadness for the Dodge Demon that never was; had it reached production, we might be shopping used examples on Craigslist at this very moment.
And then, truth be told, investigating whether or not a Hemi swap would be possible.