By Tom Krisher | The Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) — The last gas-powered muscle car from Dodge isn’t leaving the road without some squeals, thunder and crazy-fast speed.
The 2023 Challenger SRT Demon 170 will deliver 1,025 horsepower from its 6.2-liter supercharged V-8, and the automaker says it will be the quickest production car made.
Stellantis, formed in 2021 by combining Fiat Chrysler and France’s PSA Peugeot, says it can go from zero to 60 miles per hour (97 kilometers per hour) in a scary 1.66 seconds, making it faster than even electric supercars from Tesla and Lucid.
It’s what the performance brand from Stellantis is calling the last of the rumbling cars that for decades were a fixture of American culture on Saturday night cruises all over the country.
Stellantis will stop making gas versions of the Dodge Challenger and Charger and the Chrylser 300 big sedan by the end of this year, squeezed out by stricter government fuel-economy regulations and an accelerating shift to electric vehicles to fight climate change.
The Canadian factory that makes all three cars will be retooled to make electric versions of larger cars starting next year. Stellantis hasn’t said whether all three models will survive, but it did show off a Charger Daytona SRT electric concept muscle car back in August.
Tim Kuniskis, CEO of the Dodge brand and the unofficial spokesman for America’s gas-powered rubber-burners, said that, while he’ll miss the traditional muscle, he’s excited about making electric performance vehicles.
“It’s the end of an era, for sure,” he said Monday. “Electric products, they’re very fast. Muscle cars, one of the primary ingredients is to be a fast accelerating car. So I’ve automatically got the power. Now I’ve just got to figure out ways to bring all the other elements in of the excitement of the driving experience.”
Since last summer, Dodge has been rolling out powerful special-edition “Last Call” versions of its gas powered muscle cars, culminating with an event Monday night to show the Challenger Demon 170 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway drag strip.
The new Challenger Demon, a descendant of a car that first went on sale in 1969, also produces 945 pound-feet of torque, or rotational force — so much power that the company had to strengthen the rear drive shaft and differential with aerospace-grade metals.
According to Stellantis, the car will be the first production vehicle to run a quarter-mile (0.40 kilometers) in under nine seconds — 8.91 to be exact. To do that, it hits a speed of just over 151 mph (243 kilometers per hour). Horsepower and speed depends on how much ethanol is in the fuel.
It gets only 13 miles per gallon in the city and 21 on the highway, but it’s doubtful anyone buying one will care even as the world deals with climate change.
Kuniskis says it’s a relatively small number of cars, and he says the ethanol they burn is cleaner than gasoline. Dodge, he said, will have built 2 million muscle cars by the time production of gas versions ends Dec. 31. Dodge’s followers, he said, deserve a celebration.
“After all these years, we owed it as much to them as to ourselves to celebrate this end, and give them something that produces a lot of pride in the brand that they love,” he said.
The Demon 170 is street legal, even though it comes with wide racing tires . To make it a daily driver, the company is offering a package of smaller, more street friendly wheels and tires.
At a devilish $96,666, the car comes standard with only a driver’s seat and a basic radio. But it has air conditioning. Front passenger and back seats are optional for $1 each. You can also get leather, a sunroof and a better sound system.
Stellantis will make only up to 3,300 of them, and Kuniskis isn’t sure if they’ll hit that number due to potential parts shortages and a limited production time.
If previous limited-edition models are any indication, the Demon 170 should become an instant classic collector’s car, Kuniskis said.
“If you look at some of the cars that we’ve had in our past, it’s pretty easy to tell which ones people want to collect,” he said. “A lot of times it’s the lower (sales) volume, extreme examples, whether its extreme looks or extreme performance. Well, this one happens to have both.”