By Elizabeth Puckett
*Editor’s Note: What started off as a news story turned into a largely opinion-driven column. I am open to counter-opinions, and am in no way intending to personally attack concerned motorists. I’m also not suggesting that you should go out and by a Dodge Demon to sling it around on your way to work every day, but I stand behind the fact that a car alone is not a ‘weapon’, it’s the person behind the wheel that has the ability to ‘weaponize’ a vehicle.
In a not-so-shocking update about the Dodge Challenger Demon, people are coming forward to question the safety of an ‘out-of-the-box’ race car.
The Dodge Demon just started shipping this week, and news stories are ‘demonizing’ the car. A piece from Automotive News got kicked up and cited in a new article from SFGate, and they both come off pretty silly.
As you can imagine, the gist of the articles are that they are questioning the safety of the vehicle, citing little to no actual characteristics, studies, or facts to back up their arguments. The original article said this about the car, that it “is so inherently dangerous to the common safety of motorists that its registration as a road-worthy automobile should be banned,”…oh come on.
The fact is, no car is any more or any less dangerous than the person behind the wheel. A study published a few years ago by USA Today talked about the car models most likely to kill you, and mundane commuter cars filled out the first 5 spots before the Chevy Camaro came in at number 6. Interestingly enough, the Camaro was the only muscle or sports-type car on the list.
And let’s not even get going about how many Camrys start trouble on the road — there are so many incidents cited by fellow motorsits about Camrys, that they have become absolute cliches. These cars are made for people who don’t really care about driving, in general, and I offer a personal apology if that generalization isn’t true for you. But if money isn’t an issue, commuting isn’t the concern, and you don’t have a specific need for an econobox, but you buy one, you’re probably not a car person, so you’re likely not even reading this gearhead’s rant.
Point being, it’s silly to single out the Dodge Demon as some sort of irresponsible car based on its capabilities; the car will remain absolutely motionless unless someone starts the engine, puts it in gear, and pushes the gas. What happens from that point is dependent on the human being in control.
Just check out the video above with morning show talk show hosts bantering about it with fear-mongering type verbiage that will make a real gearhead even more excited about the car. Like typical non-car people, they compare the horsepower ratings of the Altima and Camry to the American muscle car, total apples to oranges irrelevancy. When Michael Strahan cops to being one of the 3,000 who will own a Demon, the other on-air personalities were taken aback.
Even if you’re not a Demon fan, this should bug you a little bit that there are automotive journalists out there who think something like the Dodge Demon should be kept off the road. Quadruple-digit horsepower ranges, and single digit 1/4 mile cars are becoming less of an anomaly, and more of the standard. Should you need a special permit to drive one of those? Where do you draw the line when it comes to performance and someone’s right to own a car? Why is it now so taboo to own a high-horsepower?
Personally, when anyone in the media gets worked up over something like this, I get nervous. The first time a dog runs out in front of a Demon and the driver swerves to avoid it and strikes a mailbox, expect to hear a neurotic amount of ‘I told you so’ rhetoric from these same people, and angry minivan owners are going to demand that lawmakers start regulating horsepower and putting caps on how much a car can have before it’s no longer allowed to be driven on public roads.
Sound off in the comments on what you think about this issue.