The Greatest Muscle Car Ever?

I’ve owned more than a dozen muscle cars over the past 40 years, but I recently took delivery of a 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170, and it’s probably the last muscle car I’ll ever buy. If you’re a muscle car fan you likely know the story behind the Dodge Demon 170. But as a level set I’ll hit the high points here.

Dodge made 3,300 Challenger SRT Demon 170s, 3000 for the U.S. and 300 for Canada. All of them are powered by a 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 making 900 horsepower on standard premium fuel and up to 1,025 horsepower on E85. E85 is shorthand for 85 percent ethanol fuel, which you can buy at local gas stations. Powering a car with ethanol is actually considered far more “green” than standard gasoline because it’s corn — not petroleum — based.

Dodge has certified the Demon 170 as capable of hitting 60 mph in 1.66 seconds and clearing the quarter miles in 8.91 seconds at 150 mph. All of those figures were achieved in a drivers-seat only Dodge Demon — which buyers could specify when ordering their cars — running on a prepared, super sticky surface at a drag strip. Under those conditions the Dodge Demon 170 will pull both front wheels off the ground as it launches from the starting line.

The Demon 170 is certainly the most powerful and quickest muscle car in the history of the genre, and it also represents a dying form of performance car — large-displacement V8s powering rear-wheel-drive American performance coupes. The Demon 170, along with every other version of the Dodge Challenger (and the Chevrolet Camaro) bowed out in 2023, leaving only the Ford Mustang to satisfy muscle car fans.

As the last version of an iconic muscle car nameplate, the situation only adds to the Demon 170’s unique status. And as someone whose first love of cars was ignited by driving a 1969 Plymouth GTX when I was 15, and still on my drivers permit, the Demon 170 was a no-brainer — I had to buy one.

I spec’d my car in Plum Crazy Purple with a red leather interior and red seat belts, and I went with the matte treatment on the hood, roof, and trunk. I also ordered the Carbon Fiber wheels, a limited production option that was only available for 826 of the 3,300 Demon 170s.

Basically, I wanted every feature Dodge offered on the car, and after playing with the configurator for weeks I confirmed the only way it could have cost more was if I’d chosen Sublime versus Plum Crazy paint. Both were extra cost colors, but Sublime was a couple hundred dollars more than Plum Crazy. I like Dodge’s Sublime green shade, but it doesn’t photograph as well as Plum Crazy, and while Purple with red leather isn’t the most conventional color combo, Sublime with red would have been too much, even with my appetite for brash colors in high-performance vehicles.

Loaded with every option, my Demon 170’s MSRP was $134,626, far below what many paid for their 170s in the cutthroat world of limited production cars. I was fortunate to lock in my price early, which kept me from paying an additional $10,000 that the dealers who ordered the cars for themselves to “flip” — instead of for real customers — had to pay and then pass on to buyers.

I’ve driven my Demon 170 about 700 miles while mostly babying it during the break-in process. I also changed the carbon fiber wheels and drag radials out for standard alloy wheels with performance tires. This protects the carbon fiber wheels from damage or theft, and the car from crashing if it happens to rain in Southern California. And trust me, it does. I also disabled the key-fob programming hub to reduce the chance of theft, an option Dodge offers through local dealers for free and a prudent one given the high theft rate for these vehicles.

Both the wheel swap and disabling the key-fob programming were done because I plan on driving this car on a regular basis. Of course I’ll take it to the track at some point in the not-too-distant future, but I’m in no hurry. I already pulled a 9-second quarter mile in my 2018 Demon, and I’m having plenty of fun driving this one on the street. The power and exhaust note are truly next level.

Between its horsepower, potential acceleration figures, and overall look and feel, I would argue the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 is the greatest muscle car ever made — but maybe I’m a tad bias. However, I say it as someone who has owned two original Dodge Challengers (a 1970 and 1973), a 1969 and 1970 Plymouth GTX, a 1974 Pontiac Firebird Super Duty Trans Am, a 2001 Bullitt Mustang, and the 2018 version of the Dodge Demon (which “only” made 840 horsepower). All of those cars had their charms, but none came close to the Demon 170’s driving experience.

It’s sad to see cars like this fade away, but like any absence, it makes the heart grow fonder.


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