Next week, Dodge will finally take the cover off the Challenger SRT Demon, a drag-ready monster based off the already ridiculous Hellcat. Interestingly, the Dodge Demon could have been a very different car. A rear-wheel drive roadster designed to compete with the Mazda Miata.
You may recall the 2007 Demon Concept, pictured above, a little two-seater that made its debut at the Geneva Motor show ten years ago. The 2007 Demon was an ambitious car–it had a bespoke rear-drive platform, 2600-lb curb weight, a 172-hp four-cylinder, and a six-speed manual gearbox. And with a $15,000 base price, Dodge wanted the Demon to be an affordable, approachable alternative to the Viper.
It wasn't just a pipe dream, either–Dodge really wanted to build this thing. Heck, the automaker even let us drive the concept back in May 2007. The Demon was far from done at that point, but it had a lot of potential to be a legitimate Miata competitor.
So what happened? Why did we never get this Demon? Unfortunately, the concept came during one of Chrysler's darkest eras, when capital management group Cerberus was at the helm.
The Demon made its debut early in 2007 just as Daimler was looking to get rid of Chrysler. That summer, Daimler sold a vast majority of its shares to Cerberus, which initially seemed like a good thing for the Demon. Mismanagement from Cerberus–which didn't understand how to run a car company–and the financial crisis of 2008 sapped precious resources from Chrysler, putting the Demon on the back burner.
In January 2008, Dodge announced that the Demon would share a front-wheel drive platform with an upcoming hatchback co-developed with Chinese brand Chery. Dodge still planned to sell the Demon for $15,000, but without rear-wheel drive, it'd hardly be a Miata competitor.
This hatchback never materialized, so neither did the Demon. It was a victim of the financial crisis. In April 2009, Chrysler declared bankruptcy so it could merge with Fiat, eventually leading to the Fiat Chrysler (FCA) we know today.
In 2010, we reported that the Demon could make its way to production sharing a rear-drive platform with an upcoming Alfa Romeo Spider. That didn't happen. Instead in 2012, Fiat Chrysler announced it would collaborate with Mazda to build an Alfa Spider on the same platform as the Miata. No mention was made of the Demon.
While the 124 Spider fills the same niche as the Demon roadster, we can only imagine what Dodge's true Miata alternative would have been like. Instead, we get the Demon name on an all-out muscle car, which seems like a fair trade.
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