How an April Fools' prank became an internet sensation and how the SRT Ghoul precursed a real 1,000-hp production Dodge.
You may have come across a wild muscle car called the Dodge SRT Ghoul in your time on the internet. In some instances, it seems like a myth or a legend, while some Dodge dealerships have dedicated a fair amount of space on their sites committing to what you can expect of the new model when it arrives. But in truth, there's very little information out there about the mysterious Dodge Ghoul.
That's for a very good reason: because the Ghoul was an entirely made-up car that started its life as an April Fools' prank, went viral, and had Dodge dealers and fans believing it was real. Its story was fun and showed Dodge just how much fans craved the insane, and it may have helped drive demand for the craziest Dodge muscle car of them all, the Challenger Demon 170.
In 2019, one of the CarBuzz writers suggested a prank article for April Fools' Day. This is not an uncommon practice in the automotive industry, and everyone from automakers and news outlets to YouTubers and aftermarket suppliers announces pranks annually on the day. Little did we know that the original story would go viral, with more than 700,000 people reading it and Dodge dealers being inundated with requests for a reservation of the new model. Dodge HQ in Detroit even heard about it and had a good laugh, but contrary to some reports, it was never even vaguely confirmed by the mothership.
The original report was vague, suggesting the Ghoul was to replace the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon and that it was arriving for the 2020 model year with 1,000 horsepower, although the source of that power was unconfirmed.
Maybe the biggest driving factor behind the viral rumors was founded by the logo for the Ghoul. But even this was made up, although it did have genuine foundations. When Dodge released the original Demon, it had also shown various sketches for the Demon's logo. We simply took one of the alternate ideas and made it look semi-official.
While the original prank focused on the concept of a new Challenger variant, we rebooted the gag for 2020, suggesting that Dodge had changed its focus to the Charger after the two-door Demon's success. To that end, the Dodge Charger SRT Ghoul was born with the promise that the 1,000-horsepower Hellephant crate motor from Mopar would power it. The Hellephant engine, in case you're unfamiliar, is a 7.0-liter supercharged HEMI V8 with 1,000 hp and 950 lb-ft of torque.
The Charger SRT Ghoul was to be the ultimate muscle sedan, and it would need a gearbox that could handle all that torque. We expanded on this prank in 2021 with confirmation that the real thing would arrive in 2022 sporting a heavy-duty Allison transmission - the kind you'd typically find in heavy-duty trucks that have 1,000 lb-ft of torque.
Some saw through the smoke and mirrors, though, and rightly so. The Hellephant engine, for example, is not CARB-approved, which is why it could only be bought as a crate motor in the first place for use in vintage builds. And the Allison transmission might have been able to handle the torque, but it's not a performance gearbox, nor were these gearboxes used in Dodge products.
Fictional creations can't have a price, but the one detail that remained consistent throughout our pranks was that Dodge wanted around $200,000 for the privilege of owning the Hellephant-powered Dodge Charger SRT Ghoul.
It was alleged that Dodge would produce 100 cars, which would help recuperate the development costs of the Hellephant engine. The crate motor was limited to the same 100 units, each priced at $29,995, about 15% of the cost of the supposed Charger SRT Ghoul.
The Dodge Charger SRT Ghoul was nothing more than a ruse, one fueled by rumors and even YouTubers who believed said tales. There were even YouTubers who planned on building the real thing by transplanting their own Hellephant motors from things like a 300C into a Hellcat body. But whether the rumored 1,000-hp car was real or not, it serendipitously showed that there was demand for such a concept.
Earlier this year, Dodge revealed the Demon 170 - a final send-off for the Dodge HEMI V8 from the company that had made a business out of democratizing power. It didn't feature a Hellephant motor, but it did run on E85 ethanol, one of the many things that enable its gargantuan power outputs.
The Demon 170 is an answer to a question nobody asked, and no one could've expected such a mind-blowing farewell. But it shows how an April Fools' prank can gain traction, provide a strong business case for something outlandish, and result in the real thing coming into the world better than we could ever have envisioned it.
On those original prank posts on the site, we had people threaten to cancel us; we were vilified by those who caught on early, while others merely bemoaned the fact that Dodge would never actually deliver such a car. And yet Dodge has. Was our prank really that much of a stretch at all? Not really. Did we have any actual influence on the production of the Demon 170? Probably not, but we'd like to believe we did.
Either way, we hope you'll see the humor in our original prank and give Dodge the praise it deserves for the car it eventually created.
Nope, sadly not. It was a prank that went viral on April 1, 2019 and grew with each passing year.
As a fictional car, there is no release date. However, later this year, Dodge will commence deliveries of the 1,025-hp Demon 170.
No, Dodge will not, but it will produce the Demon 170. 3,300 units will be built, with 3,000 of those headed to the US market.
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