Dodge Made a Miata-Sized Demon

The name “Demon” has been applied to several cars (besides just the immensely powerful Challenger trim.) Three vehicles have carried the name.

The first was a trim of the Dodge Dart. It had a little demon character holding a pitchfork on the fender. They had to remove it later following protests from Christian organizations.

The third was the aforementioned Challenger trim.

The second was this:

This is another one of Dodge’s fully functional concept cars. It was pretty much a successor to the Razor concept, built in response to the Pontiac Solstice & Saturn Sky.

You may be thinking that competing with the Solstice would be a stupid move, but in fact the Solstice sold incredibly well. In the ten days after the Solstice’s unveiling, GM took seven thousand orders for the car. They had to increase production to meet demand, and ended up selling close to sixty-six thousand of them over a five year production run. That’s a ton for a two-seater sports car, and it got Dodge thinking.

Body by Viper, Engine by Neon

The Demon concept’s exterior was decidedly un-feminine. Trying to shake off the soft connotations of cars with names like Solstice, Sky, and Miata, Dodge made the exterior chiseled and muscular. Many scoops could be seen, and the car’s front fascia certainly looked like it had a bone to pick.

The base motor was to be the 2.4 liter “world engine”–the same one in the Neon. It made 172 horsepower, very similar to the Solstice’s base engine, which was also a 2.4 liter inline-four with dual overhead cams (that made 177 horsepower).

The Solstice and the Demon concept are actually extremely similar. The performance is nearly the same, all of the car’s dimensions are within a few inches (only half an inch separates the car’s wheelbases), and the Demon’s curb weight would’ve likely been about the same as the Pontiac’s.

The only advantages I could’ve seen this car having would be the price, the styling, and the driving dynamics.

There’s a few problems with that.

First of all, the Pontiac Solstice was already dirt cheap ($19,915 base). How Dodge could’ve undercut an already very inexpensive car, I do not know. Second, I don’t really think this car looks… right. The entire vehicle proportionally looks nice, as does the profile and the rear-end, however the front fascia just looks like a Ram 1500.

Compare this car to the Solstice or the Sky, both of which were good-looking cars (especially the Solstice coupe), and I don’t see this thing winning any beauty pageants. The only advantage the Demon would’ve had was that it was called “the Demon”, and it would be a good car to be seen in if you weren’t comfortable with your level of masculinity.

What’s the phobia for being afraid of getting called a hairdresser? People who would’ve bought this car suffered from that.

Driving the Demon

Unlike many of Chrysler’s other concepts from this era, the Demon concept was driven by the press. The driving experience is where the Demon would have to beat the Solstice, but it’s only tangible advantage was an extra speed in its gearbox (six total).

The reactions were mixed. Some said the steering was a bit numb, and the ride could use some improvement. Everybody seemed to agree the car sounded great, the shifter was solid, and, of course, they liked the color.

Here’s a video of it being driven by cars.com in 2007:

Car and Driver liked the car the most, seeming to almost beg Chrysler to produce it in a May 2007 article.

So the reception for the Demon was better than lukewarm, and the reception to the Crossfire (which the concept was based on) was generally bad. Why not make it to replace that car?

Daimler Doomed the Demon

Around 2007 (when the concept was released), Mercedes realized that owning Chrysler actually sucked. Reminds me of the time in my freshman year of college when me and my friend decided we wanted to get drunk, but only had Wild Turkey 101 and no-sugar-added cranberry juice. We initially convinced one another it tasted fine, but after a few more sips my friend looked at me and said, “This… kinda sucks.”

Great connection, I know.

Daimler dumped Chrysler and the Detroit automaker was bought by Cerberus Capital Management, who apparently (ironically) mismanaged the company’s capital. This mismanagement became especially apparent when Chrysler went bankrupt in 2009. When Fiat bought them forming FCA, they decided they still wanted a new sports car, but not based on the Crossfire.

You may think they thought; “We can’t make a Dodge that’s actually a Mercedes but technically a Fiat!”

But they still do that today with the Grand Cherokee. A Jeep built on the old Benz ML platform that’s technically a Fiat.

Irony

You may think FCA would make a new platform for its sports car then. What else are they going to do? Just re-body a Miata? The car they were trying to compete with in the first place?

fiata

Yes.

8 Comments

  1. It looks a bit like an obese S2000 though. Funny how what seemed muscular back then comes across as almost restrained in our wacky time.

    1. Agreed. The Dodge has a blunter nose (like a “Ram 1500”, as Holderith puts it) and looks taller through the body, which, along with the fat fender flares, contribute to a chunky look. I rather like it, other than the boring rear fascia and uninspired tail lamps.

  2. Wow… not just one, but two Hooniverse articles on a weekend! Hope this becomes a new thing.

    I sincerely hope the part about Christian organizations forcing the removal of the demon/pitchfork logos was sarcasm.

  3. This is one of my favorite concepts they did in those years. Of the cars listed it’s the one I would have owned. It’s not because I don’t want to look like a hairdresser. It’s because it looks like a proper Mopar convertible. The motor/transmission combo fits it closer than a Prowlers did. Maybe it’s the old Triumph owner. Where you want a more male looking convertible. Of course I owned a Spitfire which isn’t exactly a male looking Triumph.

  4. Cerberus buying Chrysler was supposed to be a pump-and-dump: Buy it for a song from Daimler, cut all spending, claim the company is now wildly profitable and sell before anyone finds out the truth. Just like the Phoenix Four and MG Rover, just much faster.
    Then the 2008 economic meltdown happened, and that killed any chances of profits. “Thanks, George W!”, said Bob Nardelli (known for overpaying himself at Home Depot) and Dan Quayle (among others).

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