The “Demon” nameplate has a deep heritage with the Dodge brand. Many modern fans place the nameplate with the 840 horsepower 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon street-legal drag racer, however, it’s been used a few times in the past 50 years in the Dodge lineup.
Introduced in 1971, the Dodge Demon was a two-door performance coupe that offered sporty looks, well-rounded performance, at a budget price. The compact Demon lasted for only two model years in the United States, before being renamed the “Dart Sport” after criticisms from Christian groups about the car’s name and pitchfork welding devil logo. The Demon name wouldn’t be used again, until 2007 for a very unique concept car that almost looked like it was ready for production.
Towards the end of the 2000s, General Motors’ (GM) Pontiac brand was on a resurgence to introduce a wide range of performance vehicles. One of those vehicles was the compact two-seat Solstice roadster. The Solstice joined its corporate sibling, the Saturn Sky on taking on the popular compact Mazda Miata MX-5 roadster. All of the cars were two-seaters, with four-cylinder powerplants, offering rear-wheel-drive, and manual transmissions. The Dodge brand eager to test the waters of the growing segment decided to create its roadster, which would proudly wear the Demon nameplate.
Introduced at the 2007 Geneva International Auto Show in Switzerland, the Demon Roadster Concept created a lot of buzz among the media and Mopar fans alike. Styling of the Demon was aggressive with the more rounded Solstice.
The Bright Amber Pearl paint does an excellent job reflecting the light across the Demon’s bodylines. The bodyside of the Demon, featured a character line flowed up and over the front wheel, then dropped diagonally to an angular color-matched vent located on the rear fender to direct air to the rear brakes for cooling.
The rear fender surface curved up and over the rear wheel, which swept onto a broad diagonal plane extending to the taillamp and creating a muscular fender form that projected boldly beyond the main body, putting emphasis on the fact that the Demon is rear-wheel-drive.
The rear surface of the aggressive roadster body was divided into three planes with two chamfered outboard planes, dominated by long, tapering trapezoidal taillamps. The taillamps themselves sported translucent red inset lenses that surrounded LED rear back-up lamps. A lot of fans have stated that the rear of the Demon Concept has almost an Audi-like appearance.
Upfront, the Demon featured the then signature Dodge “crosshair” grille placed into a menacing trapezoidal opening that thrusts forward. A set of aggressive protector headlamps delineated by bright rings and were set into black chrome bezels. Encompassing the upper portions of the front fenders and sporting two recessed air outlets, the Dodge Demon’s hood is hinged at the front, adding a just-for-fun performance-car look and feel.
The Dodge design staff created a dramatic stance by pushing the wheels into the corners of the body. Not only did this enhance the aggressiveness of the styling of the compact roadster, but it also provided better handling. Demon featured 19-inch x 8-inch brushed aluminum wheels made of asymmetrical openings and wrapped with Goodyear P225/35R19 run-flat tires.
While the Solstice and Sky models weighed roughly 400 lbs. more than the lightweight Miata, the Demon split the difference weighing in at around 2,600 lbs. or about 200 lbs. more than the third-generation Miata. The Demon also featured 50/50 weight distribution thanks to the clever packaging of the car’s large trunk, tonneau roof, and 17-gallon fuel tank.
Inside, the Demon Concept looked to be as close to production as a concept car could be. Using inspiration from British sports cars of the past, the Demon Concept’s interior is designed to be purposeful without being flamboyant. A three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel, bolstered-cloth seats, and simply laid out cabin controls allowed the driver to focus on the twisty back-roads. A brushed aluminum bezel runs across the entire length of the dash and houses the AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo from the Dodge Avenger and Charger.
Under the front-hinged clamshell hood, sat a naturally-aspirated 2.4-liter “World Engine” inline-four-cylinder engine delivering 172 horsepower and 165 lb.-ft. of torque. The World Engine was mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, in which the driver could bang through the gears to a 0 to 60 mph time of 7.1 seconds.
At the time of the unveiling of the concept, Dodge was working on its all-new Caliber SRT-4, in which its 2.4-liter DOHC 16V turbocharged I4 with dual variable valve timing (DVVT) was capable of producing 285 horsepower and 265 lb.-ft. of torque and would have been a monster under the hood of the lightweight roadster.
When it came to the suspension the Demon used a lot of parts bin goodies from the Chrysler Crossfire, like the short/long-arm front suspension. The Demon used a multilink suspension in the rear. The issue of putting the Demon on its own architecture raised a lot of questions to cost, production availability, and distribution.
Unfortunately, the Demon Concept never made it into production. However, the sporty roadster still does play a part in the Chrysler Heritage Collection and is currently housed at the former Viper assembly plant now dubbed Conner Center. The Demon Concept still makes an appearance at special events and car shows from time to time. It goes to show, that not all concept cars make it to production, no matter how close they’re are to looking production-ready.
2007 Dodge Demon Concept Image Gallery: