The Decatur Daily Democrat

Last call: Dodge unveils last gasoline muscle car

- BY TOM KRISHER Associated Press

DETROIT — 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.

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