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Dodge’s new drag car is street legal, but is it safe?

At the beginning of November 2017, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles began shipping their first batch of 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demons to dealers. This super car has a 6.2-liter Hemi V-8 engine which is capable of delivering 840 horsepower. For comparison, a Toyota Corolla has 132hp. Dodge is advertising the muscle car as the industry’s first street-legal drag car. For motorheads, this news almost surely comes with a dose of excitement and adrenaline. For others, there is serious concern about safety.

The automotive industry publication Automotive News opened a scathing editorial by saying that the Dodge Demon “is so inherently dangerous to the common safety of motorists that its registration as a road-worthy automobile should be banned.”

Perhaps this kind of coverage is exactly what Dodge was looking for; hype is hard to come by these days. But there is no doubt that they also wanted to design the car to be a dragster, as if evident by the transmission brake and a standard set of drag tires which have the minimum amount of tread to be approved for street use by the DOT. The car only comes with a driver’s seat (meaning no passenger or backseats) and can run on 100 octane racing gas.

To put some of these features in performance perspective, the Demon can travel a quarter mile in 9.65 seconds at 140 mph. Remember all the talk in The Fast and the Furious about a 10-second car? Well, those cars had to be heavily modified to achieve that goal; the Dodge Demon roles straight out of the box ready to smoke Vin Diesel.

With these kinds of features and that sort of straight from the factory performance, surely some type of conversation about safety is warranted.

The AN editorial went on to say that the Demon is “the result of a sequence of misguided corporate choices that places bragging rights ahead of public safety,” and that it completely disregards the automotive industry’s goal of improving safety. They also accuse Dodge of “knowingly placing motorists in danger.”

Aren’t there other cars on the market that are faster?

Yes, there are plenty of other cars on the street that boast similar stats (or much greater) as the Demon. Cars from makers like Bugatti and McLaren have impressive stats, but they are also millions of dollars, ensuring that many of them never see mass production or common-man buyers.

However, the Dodge Demon will have an MSRP of around $85,000, with some dealers already advertising to sell them as low as $50k. This means that the extremely fast car’s steering wheel will be in a lot more hands.

Likewise, the Demon is dangerous because of its “drag-style” speed, which means that it is fast in a short distance from completely stopped. In fact, the Demon can do 0 to 60 mph in 2.3 seconds, making it one of the world’s fastest cars over short distances.

One thing that critics don’t seem to be mentioning much of that the car also comes with superior braking and handling capabilities which far surpass most cars on the road today. Dodge claims that the Demon can come to a stop from 60 mph in less than 100 feet, something even super cars like a Bugatti can’t pull off.

According to USA Today, the Demon will only be offered for the 2018 model year and just 3,000 will see the U.S. market. Really, the plan is to get people into Dodge’s dealerships. But other remakes of Dodge muscle cars have sold surprising well recently, so a higher production order could be in the cards for the Dodge Demon.

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