One Last Hurrah?

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There is no shortage of things to bitch about these days, but a 9 second factory-built race car that’s street legal and fully EPA-DOT compliant isn’t one of them.

Especially since it must enrage the EPA apparatchiks to carpet-chewing fury that Dodge was somehow able to pull it off. To build it and make it available to well, just about anyone who has the coin ($86,090) and gets there first (only 3,000 will be sold in the United States).

It is almost as pleasant to contemplate as Trump’s victory, in the immediate aftermath of the election (he’s been something of a disappointment since the election). The keening wails of despair.   

Imagine it.

Almost 900 hp and the ability to wheelie . . . . It is almost as luscious as hearing that seatbelt laws and DWI checkpoints have been repealed, that we can ride motorcycles without helmets again and that lawn darts and real fireworks that fly and explode can be bought at any hardware store.

You can drive the Demon on Uncle’s roads. Legally. And they can’t do a thing about it. At least, for now.

And you could drive it to work, too.

That is also unprecedented – and (cue Fernando Lamaz voice from Saturday Night Live) absolutely marvelous.

The Youth have no idea.

When I was a youth, back in the ‘80s, we ogled at tales of the first-generation factory-built bracket racers. Which were quasi-legal to drive on Uncle’s roads but utterly undriveable at anything but all-out, tach needle bumping up against the rev limiter, all four barrels of the huge Holley on top dumping oceans of gas down the throat of the thing.

Otherwise, it would buck and stall out; or it would overheat within minutes of encountering traffic. You had to keep it moving – and even then, it was a barbaric and Iffy experience.

This Demon is both quicker and more civilized. You can order it with a Harmon Kardon ultra-premium audio system and a sunroof. It does not stall or buck.

It comes with an automatic transmission.  

You can also order it with an ECU programmed to make the thing belch as much fire as possible – the full 840 hp (the standard ECU installed when it leaves the factory allows 808) plus a pair of skinny drag tires for the front end.

It’ll set you back exactly $1.

Another gaudy, magnificent affront to Uncle!

But I worry. The superlative, almost kamikaze over-the-topness of this thing suggests exactly that. Is the Demon, like the Zeroes that dive-bombed the decks of American carriers approaching the Home Islands, the Chrysler side-of-things final salvo?

I am giving away no secrets when I tell you that Chrysler’s future is  . . . murky. Fiat, which owns the works, hasn’t committed resources or even a kind word to the future of what used to be America’s third-biggest automaker after Ford and GM. There is the strong whiff of suggestion that Fiat may retire from these shores – as it has done previously – and if that happens, what becomes of the Chrysler (and Dodge) side of the operation?

New product – as new cars are spoken of by industry apparatchiks – are needed. Badly. The Demon is fabulous, but it is also old. The Challenger it is based on (which is based on the Charger) is largely unchanged since it first appeared way back in 2008. It has been updated and tweaked but the basic car is the same today as it was almost ten years ago.

Meanwhile, Ford has thoroughly revised the Mustang twice during that same time period (GM just finished giving Camaro a complete makeover).

Can you hear the clock ticking?

Chrysler has exactly two models available for sale at the moment. A minivan (for chrissakes) and the also-aged 300 sedan (which is a fancy Charger sedan).

So, what goes on here may well be the same thing that goes on when you know you are about to be fired and today – or tomorrow – is probably your last day.

Why not go out with a bang?

It doesn’t make the Demon any less glorious. But it does make me feel a little sad to think that this might truly be the last hurrah – and not just for the Demon or Dodge and its parent, Chrysler.

There is outrage inside the Beltway – and also at car publications, such as Automotive News – that such a car is legal for sale to the . . . gasp  . . . public.

That is to say, to us. People like you and me.

It is one thing for Dear Leaders to tour around in 4 MPG (yes, really) armored limos with just as many horses under their hoods (they need ’em, to haul around all that armor) and never mind the carbon footprint but quite something else for the sans culottes to get their grubby hands on such.

So, come out of the sun – engine screaming. Vertical death dive to the flight deck below.

Banzai!

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13 COMMENTS

  1. About every 20 years Chrysler faces the Fiscal Grim Reaper. It broke my heart to see Plymouth fold, with its cars in our family all the way from the nine-passenger Fury station wagon with the 440 to my brother’s modified 440 Barracuda, to my humble Volare. I’d really hate to see Chrysler go the way of all the earth, but I remember George Romney’s words from decades ago: he said something like a manufacturer would have to sell at least a million cars a year to make a go of it; what it is now I have no idea.

    Everything else seems to be consolidating. How many small engine and utility machine makers have been swallowed up by bigger fish? Or farms? Thus I wonder if there’s enough room in the market for a stand-alone Chrysler to make it.

    • My prediction is that Dodge ends up in the hands of some large Chinese conglomerate- similar to the Geely acquisition of Lotus & Volvo.

  2. I doubt the Demon is the last hurrah. The automotive world is changing drastically.

    The hype around car ownership ending and people relying on self-driving cars for transport is probably true. When you share a car with lots of other people, and it runs a heavy duty cycle, your net transportation cost is a lot lower since you’re not paying for idle time. I think it’s inevitable that most transportation will shift to on-demand self driving cars eventually. Initially, it might replace the second car but eventually most cars.

    This is what happened with horses when the automobile came out. At first people resisted the mechanical witchcraft, but eventually cars took over. There are still die-hard and hobbyists who ride for sport and pleasure, though. I think this is what will happen with cars eventually. We’ll have people like Eric who own and drive their own cars for the love of it, while most people don’t. There will be boutique manufacturers of low volume cars (think Lotus, they’re great at low-volume productions). The big car companies will likely support fleets of shared cars. The one hope I have is that the public roads are still open to us self-drivers for when we want to drive.

    • They will not let us have our cars, I guarantee you that. Sure, you will be able to ride it on a race track or take it to some event where people 80 plus will view them, but the private car may be headed to the buggy whip status.

      On the other hand, maybe not. If people think that this transition to corporate owned cars is going to be seamless, they will be sadly mistaken. Unlike your private automotibile, automated cars will be unable to exceed the speed limit. While things like Uber and Lyft are convenient now, they will grow into a monstrosity when the car companies and corporate oligarch take over. Corporate contracts will be signed and only certain people who have give up some commercial rights will be able to ride. Instead of being able to get in your car, you will be forced to adhere to someone’s schedule.

      Even dumbed down millenials will remember when they and their parents could get into a car and go anywhere albeit stuck in traffic).

      Somewhere some utopian asshole claimed that the number of cars would go from 250 million to 44 million. How will 44 million slow, self driving electric cars be able to serve the needs of everyone who wants to travel at one time.

      IF there is a natural disaster, will we have to wait for Uber to pick people up? How about high demand times like sporting events? Concerts? How about if you want to leave a little early from work or work late? There is no guarantee that the programmed cars will be there.

      If you want to go to the beach or to the mountains, the driving car may not be there. The costs may be a lot higher, too. It’s not a 15 minute commute we are talking about.

      • Shared cars have the peak usage problem. Peak usage determines the number that are needed.

        With all automated cars obeying all the traffic control devices and laws to the letter it will be grid lock. All it takes in my area to cause massive traffic backups is just enough rain or snow where people have to drive the posted speed limit.

      • I can only hope that farmers/ranchers will have a bye. It’s not economically viable to haul cattle from one pasture to another with a big rig unless you already have it and paid for it hauling for hire.

        Same goes for seed and feed. But, a sign of the times, DOT has started targeting everyone with large pickups and trailers. I know farmers who’ve learned of many “laws” they didn’t even know about and the resulting fines which can be severe .

  3. Never knew there was another meaning for carpet chewing.

    Anyway, It seems to me the only thing keeping the Charger platform alive is… Uncle. Colorado highway patrol uses a mix of Chargers and various Ford F150s and SVUs for keeping us in line. I recall Utah’s costumed heros do the same. That’s not to say that I don’t see plenty of them around town with civilian (civilized?) plates though. I figured that’s why they all have 4 doors instead of two big ones.

      • The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. It appears that truth is stranger than fiction.

        To the tune of the Man In Black’s One Piece at a Time, I’m learning German “one word at a time”. If I could just remember it all at this late date.

    • Tahoes are being replaced by Chargers on regular DPS and lots of poleez cars in Tx. I’m sure they’re a bargain on the face of it and maybe even the long haul although I don’t expect to see any get as old as the Tahoes. Then again, the regular DPS with the exception of DOT seems to replace their cars every 3 years or so.

  4. I bought a Nissan 300ZX twin turbo in ’91 that I could barely afford. I remember reading one review that said it’s a spectacular car but Nissan’s not charging enough money for it. This was my first memory of the press being a bunch of elitists.

    • Hi Michael,

      Yup. I often feel like the Last of the Mohicans; I often look forward to meeting Yates and the rest of them at the council fire, int he great beyond…

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