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Barnstormin’: Monkey See, Monkey Didn’t Do


Barnstormin’: Monkey See, Monkey Didn’t Do

One of the first Barnstormin’ columns I ever wrote was about the fact that domestic manufacturers are obsessed with selling performance cars using numbers and performance data literally no normal person understands. GM and Ford continue to do that but Dodge finally figured it out and decided that the majority of us knuckle dragging performance fans out there would freak the hell out if they built the most audaciously bad ass production muscle car of all time. Lo and behold, look what happened! The internet blew up last week with the final reveal of the Dodge Challenger Demon a car that can run 9.60s in the quarter mile at over 140mph basically as delivered to the showroom. It goes 0-60 in 2.3 seconds. It is ridiculous in every shape, form, and fashion and people are loving it. The more important thing here is that Ford and GM have been caught completely pantsless with this car. COMPLETELY.

Yes, they sell COPO Camaros and Cobra Jet Mustangs but those represent a total of less than 120 cars per year. GM knew that they were about to get sledgehammered and rolled out some Camaro “drag race development cars” ahead of SEMA. I give them credit for doing something but as soon as those cars were “debuted” they completey disappeared from any sort of news updates, rumors, or hot dish from the company. Why? Did they know that pound for pound they were going to get ground into dust by the Demon? Were they a quick diversionary tactic trying to lessen the blow of the Demon rumors? Tough to tell really. At this point the assumption is that they have buried those cars or gone back to the drawing board. From some information we have coming from inside the company (GM), there’s been somewhat of a shift on the ethos of what direction the muscle car platforms will take in terms of how they are promoted. We’re not talking Demon level stuff (yet) but somewhere a light bulb went on and drag racing has become a much larger and brighter blip on the radar screen.

Ford is in basically the same boat as Chevrolet. The Mustang GT350 with its high winding engine has been sold like the the last generation Boss was with road racing as the primary focus. Before someone jumps down my throat about me hating on road racing or cars that can actually turn, cool your jets for a minute. I think as time has shown, I have a massive appreciation and love for those cars. The GT350 is not a bad car, nor is the Camaro Z/28 or the ZL1 or whatever machine you want to pick but let’s be brutally honest here. There are a way higher percentage of GT350 owners hammering a drag strip this coming weekend than a road course and the same can be said for the other cars as well. Do we hear about the first guy to run 2:10 at Road Atlanta in a Z/28 Camaro or do we hear about the first guy to run 10s in one? Exactly.

Not to double back on that point of the original column those many years ago but when we hear that the ZL1 beat the GT350 lap time at the Nurburgring by running 7:29.6 does anyone really know what the hell that means? Yes, the test driver and a few hundred race drivers who have ever had the “Green Hell” all to themselves. Even those fun seekers who lap rental cars or their own junk have no conception of that because they are too busy trying not to be killed or kill others who are renting the same space that they are. No one has ever leaned on the fender of their car at a car show and told someone that their Challenger runs 7:56.4 around the Nurburgring. ZERO PEOPLE.

We rightfully cry and scream about how the bean counters wreck all the cool OEM stuff with their penny pinching ways but in this case it sure seems like a group of engineers that were completely obsessed with turning left to right drove the product in a direction that left a gaping hole which Dodge saw and has exploited with the Hellcat and now the Demon. Ford and GM have no answer to this situation at the moment. Word is that there’s a 7.0L engine headed for the Mustang which would be awesome and if they pull their heads out of a dark, warm place they’ll offer a version of that car on the street that (if nothing else) at least nods to the drag racing side of things.

GM has the engines to build a Camaro that’ll run single digits out of the box but I’m wondering if the half century plus rule of leaving the Corvette the king of all things performance will hamper those efforts. Remember, the 6th generation Camaro weighs 1,000lbs less than the Challenger so they can get away without the prodigious horsepower numbers needed to move two tons in that direction swiftly.

So…the table is set for Ford and GM to do something, anything to answer this car from Dodge. Using history as a guide, the 3,300 unit announced Demon production run is a clever smoke screen to help their dealers juice the price of these cars. Remember when Hellcats were going to be limited and then demand exploded and the company cranked them out like they were skittles? We’d be shocked if that did not happen again.

The bottom line is that we are living as the most spoiled generation of horsepower junkies to ever turn a tire or a wrench. Seriously. An LS6 Chevelle or Hemi Challenger may as well be a Smart car compared to the Demon. Actually a ZL1 Camaro of GT350 Mustang are too I guess.

Shots fired Ford and GM….are you going to fight back or not?


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19 thoughts on “Barnstormin’: Monkey See, Monkey Didn’t Do

  1. Steve

    These cars are amazing, it’shard to believe an OEM could or would go this far, and if I had the kind of coin available, I’d love to own one. However, they are an extremely narrow niche, “halo” car. I think they would be even better if marketed along with an AFFORDABLE bare bones performance variant. L78 Nova? 5.0 LX Mustang? ’64 GTO? Oh, and I bet Hagerty isn’t going to have much help for the gold chainer that smacks a guard rail in his new Demon at the ‘strip.

    Reply
  2. Wolf

    Great comments Brian. It continues to drive me crazy that SVT has forever focused on road racing and seems completely clueless that most of their vehicles go drag racing. I for one welcome our new Mopar overlord.

    Reply
  3. jerry z

    The problem with today’s car are they have so much safety crap built into them. Building a lightweight stripper car is not posdible today. Give credit where credit is due to Dodge for building a bonafide drag car. Even makes the ’68 Super Stock Dodges look tame in comparison.

    Reply
  4. Keith

    Demon production numbers only approximately 350? Price out of reach. These cars aren\’t for the hardcore car lovers. They are built for the collectors. Shame on Dodge for corporate greed. Why not flood the market with them and give the after market incentive to kick in. No point in putting r and d dollars into 350 cars. If this was 1968 and just checked all the hi-po boxes how would that compare to today\’s dollars?

    Reply
    1. TheCrustyAutoworker

      Demon production for MY 2018 is 3300, 3000 for USA and 300 for Canada. Where did anyone say 350?
      And as the article above states, FCA may not be able to stop at 3300 if they see big demand.

      Reply
  5. 79TA

    The Demon is a very niche vehicle. Ford and Chevy can sit back and let Dodge test the waters for actual profitability before they release anything new. None of the Demon press material so far talks about price. In the mean time, it’s not like there aren’t people already running Demon-equivalent or better versions of their GT500’s and ZL1’s that they’ve modified to their own preferences.

    To stress my point again, the Demon is for a very bizarre niche that focuses not only on short straight line racing, but drag racing a car as delivered from the showroom. If anything, the Demon demonstrates the extreme lengths one needs to take just to not get smoked by a Tesla on the street . . . and given that the 2.3 second 0-60 number seems to come from a drag strip, those (Tesla beats Demon on the street) videos are probably on their way soon enough.

    Reply
  6. Spanners

    Awesome Dodge ! Thanks for Listening !
    Great to see an automotive manufacturer bake up a production option for the drivers that really do deserve some market attention !

    The genuine loyal petrol head who lives breaths eats sleeps and bleeds cars. The genuine loyal petrol head today’s marketing departments ignore.

    Marketing would rather create other prospective market segments by insulting the intelligence of Joe and Jane Random with wank words like ‘connectivity’ and ‘edge leading urban contoured design philosophy’ magic words that are like pixie dust to old Joe Random from Clueless in Averageville, a car buying zombie in a purchasing daze believing his families life can be fixed with a car that shits sunshine.

    RETURN THE FACTORY STREET SPECIALS

    TAKE:
    – a base model bare bones platform plucked from the production line

    LEAVE OUT:
    – the production option list
    – all the sound deadening
    – all the carpet underlay
    – all the vibration foam
    – all the anti-chip protection
    – the sound and navigation equipment
    – all the unneeded wiring looms
    – all the driver aids the law will allow
    – any special paint options

    INSTALL:
    – most powerful/most supported production line engine
    – strongest transmission and drive line
    – largest platform family braking system
    – basic suspension
    – easily removed exhaust system
    – simple data logger displaying basic performance results
    – replace cup holder with timecard holder
    RESULT:
    Affordable weekend warrior

    Reply
  7. Ron Burke

    This car is marketing nonsense. For something like 1/3rd or less the price of these cars you can easily build a low 9 sec or less NHRA legal drag car that is pretty much fill with fuel and go racing.

    These cars are built for well off wannabe racers with little of no mechanical ability. For actual racers buying one of these would be would be a gigantic waste of money and would be a great illustration of the saying,”never have so many spent so much to go so slow”.

    Reply
    1. Joey

      Lets say these cars cost $100,000. You actually believe for $33,000 you can build a 9 second car that you can also drive on the highway on long trips, don\’t have to check valves, drive back to the pits with the AC on, have a perfect rust free body, and a warrantee?

      Reply
      1. nitrostreet

        Yes you can build a car for $33,000, my last street strip car that I built completely by myself including the motor for less than that was running in the 8’s, and there’s a picture of it in a very old Hot Rod magazine from the mid 90’s driving on the Powertour, I’m sure there are many cars running Drag week that would also fit that bill.

        http://www.nitrostreet.com/drag.html

        Reply
  8. Patrick

    Care more about lap times than eT slips. That being said this car is as special edition as the ones you described. CAFE regulations for fuel economy means you will not see large numbers of these types of vehicles. People always whine for the stripped down specials, problem is they never guy them.

    Reply
    1. Keith

      That’s true about cafe ratings. To bad it isn’t calculated on actual miles driven?? Living in the rust belt if you want a 10 sec car your pretty limited mustang/camero types mainly because that’s what the after market supports. I’m lucky to have built a 68 Plymouth into great 9.5 sec car but is pretty far from being streetable. Mostly it bothers me the young guys on a budget have limited options. No hate but does the world really need a procharged fox body or another red camero?

      Reply
  9. RK

    So Ford and GM are caught with no pants because of this car. How many cars each company sells over the year and whats the annual profit bottom line is what they are really interested in. Any of the big three can sell you as much performance as you can realistically use.

    For me, I hope this car might cause a few more Hellcats to come onto the used market. I would not be embarrassed to be seen in a Tesla, but I would much rather be seen in a Challenger RT, Hellcat, Demon etc.

    Reply
  10. wayne

    I don’t think Ford or GM give a rats ass. They know what the market is and what they can sell to make a profit. They aren’t going to spend a lot of money on a niche vehicle that will not add to the bottom line.

    Reply
    1. Stickman

      I agree. Look at the raptor. They have a “specialty” and it’s working. They know their market, the market they want and the profit they are seeking.

      Reply
  11. Bob J

    In regards to the Demon, relative to the Hellcat and the other marques. To my mind, it is an engineering tour-de-force by FCA and the smallish and passionate staff which was determined to make a statement. It’s also helpful to note that for decades, the Chrysler faithful had to “wander in the wilderness” while watching other makes field high performance cars. Yes, performance has many definitions, including road racing, autocross and other outlets, but my personal avocation is Drag Racing. Just because the Demon excels at the Drag Strip, doesn’t preclude it being a competent street performer. No vehicle can be all things to all people, and the Demon was optimized for its particular orientation.

    I doubt that anyone and FCA or the other car manufacturers expect the Demon to be sold in great numbers and to directly influence the profitability of FCA, since it can’t be sold in sufficient quantity (CAFE and the like). It DOES however make a statement that the engineering talent does exist in this country to make this happen.

    The other makes, including Tesla may or may not respond (I suspect that they will field something to address the concept). Personally, I’m not much enamored of Tesla, a money losing entity which is kept alive by the constant infusion of “investment” monies by IMHO is extraordinarily unwise investment (Witness the model 3 debacle). Unless something radical changes for Tesla, its ability to remain a “going concern” is in doubt.

    Regardless, I love competition. It evokes memories of the 60’s when manufacturers and specifically engineering staffs worked ’round the clock to beat the competition. It was a wonderful time and the performance vehicles of today have their roots in the past achievements. We stand on the shoulders of giants, and I applaud the FCA for building this vehicle.

    I noted with some amusement that a commenter recently stated that “He had something for the Demon, stating that his car, a late model GTO had 1,000 HP. If memory serves (sometimes it does), the HP level for the Demon varies from 850 to 1,134, depending on configuration and fuel (100 Race unleaded is required to achieve max HP). My thoughts are (to all competitors, and specifically, the GTO owner) You’d better come correct with your ‘A’ game to this one ’cause the Demon is a serious effort.

    I wish I could have one, but it seems improbable.

    See you at the track :^)

    Bob J

    Reply
    1. nitrostreet

      Bob, 840 HP is the maximum HP figure for the Demon on race gas, the 1,034 HP figure that blew up the internet a day or so before the actual reveal of the Demon turned out to be false.

      Reply
      1. Bob J

        Thanks for the correction :^) My memory was apparently in error. I wonder how the Demon would fare on Ethanol….just wondering. Regardless, Even though I’d love to have one (and had I no family obligations), It’s unlikely that I’ll ever get behind the wheel of on (darn it) . If I ever got the opportunity, I’d use it to the maximum possible. To have a showroom stocker, with minor tweaks, run 9.65 @ 140, with A/C and a warranty, is something to be lusted for by a G-force junkie like myself.

        Bob J

        Reply

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