dodge demon decals
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Rebirth of a Legend: The Story of The Recreation of The Demon Logo – Part 3

The Final Demon

In part 2, we left off with the reviews within the Product Design Office (“PDO” as we call it internally). The design of the car at this point has gone from a clay model that was mocked up in full color in the studio to an actual physical build that rolled into our pre-staging area of “The Dome.” For those who do image searches of our early reviews of vehicles, you might notice a white room with a grey colored floor in the background behind our cars and trucks, that’s The Dome.

With the definitive, final design in hand, cut from matte black vinyl for mock up, I headed down to the pre-stage area where a wide-bodied Dodge Challenger SRT® Demon waited, veiled in a black silk covering. Some of the final sketch work in the process that lead to this point was on a smaller display board alongside of the car. This would be the final meeting where the design lives or dies.

The stage was set. It was a small gathering of us from PDO: Mark Trostle, Head of Dodge//SRT Design North America; Jeff Gale, who was acting Chief of Design in the Dodge Studio; and myself, there to present to the management group. The Dodge//SRT Brand head, Tim Kuniskis, was, at the time, Head of Passenger Car Brands and this beast was his passion project. Mark would do most of the talking at this point, keeping things short and to the point. Jeff lent a hand to pull the silk off the car to unveil our final version of the SRT Demon exterior design.

Little time was wasted before the silk was removed and there was the new SRT Demon badge on the fender. I felt like the air got sucked out of the room, like every reveal of designs I present. I held my breath and waited for the reaction. I recall a light chuckle from Tim. Not knowing him all that well, this could mean one of two things: He likes it and there aren’t words to describe the feeling or he doesn’t like it and finds it laughable. Standing there with crossed arms, reading his reaction certainly didn’t help, as the next words from his mouth were “What do you guys think?”

My guts were twisting as I hung on those words. This was six weeks worth of drawings and revisions. Over a hundred designs had been reviewed and dismissed. How could I make any new discoveries in design that we hadn’t already pursued? Thank goodness Mark spoke first, as I couldn’t muster words: “We love it!” Jeff quickly backed up Mark’s words with a “Yeah” and a nod. I could now see Tim was grinning.

There was a silence. I was still holding my breath.

Tim’s arm unfolded from being crossed, one hand rose to his chin in a thinking pose and he exclaimed, “Why does the Demon have two noses?” What Tim was referencing was the cheek bone on the far side of the design. Personally, I never saw it as part of the nose, but when you are close to a design, you sometimes don’t see things the way a fresh set of eyes do. Wasting no time, Jeff Gale used his fingernail to score the vinyl on the fender and tore off the cheek on the SRT Demon badge to Tim’s approval.

I finally exhaled.

A couple of quick tweaks to the design (outside of the quick plastic surgery that Jeff performed on the spot) were finalized…and the new SRT Demon icon was born!

Or was it?

It wasn’t just a fender badge that needed to be addressed, every other group had been waiting on the design to be finalized. This marathon of work was far from the finish line.

Exterior Design leads every other group from Interior, User Experience, Under Hood and Marketing. Much of the badge design is determined by how it’s applied to the vehicle itself. It wasn’t that long ago that badges and medallions on cars were fixed by mechanical attachments like screws and fasteners. Contemporary badging is attached with a very strong adhesive product. This makes it convenient for changing badging from one model to another. That attachment needs to be durable, so when you drive through a car wash or use a pressure washer, the badges don’t fly off. This was challenging on the SRT Demon design as there is very little surface area to adhere to and, in many ways, dictated some of the design aspects. Secondly, the materials and construction of the design also dictate how a design looks. These aspects need to work in harmony with the intended vision.

Quickly, I needed to get this approved design into many camps within PDO and outside vendors to reproduce. From forged aluminum fender badges, to embroidered and debossed leather seats, to silkscreened crate boxes, to laser-etched chrome torque wrenches and even digital paintings on the startup splash screen, every application needs to be specified to the intended application. I personally wanted to handle all the aspects of the SRT Demon design, in order to keep everything aligned with the correct look. I’ve lost count off the top of my head, but I believe there were 48 separate designs of the SRT Demon mark associated with the Challenger itself.

The real test of the design came in January 2017. The Dodge//SRT brand releases a mysterious video online of a cinematic story akin to a short Transformers film featuring a mechanical cat stored in a cage. The “Hellcat” is released from a cage where it bites into a race fuel tank and freezes over with a black ooze that explosively reveals a creature inside and ends on the SRT Demon icon logo, literally the first tip of the hat to what is coming. Immediately, there was a buzz in the air and across the internet on the SRT Demon. Outside of the speculation of what the SRT Demon would be, I really didn’t see any of the backlash I’d read about on the nameplate of the SRT Demon that Dodge faced in the early 1970s. Not only did I see positive reactions to the design, but within days, there were knock-off T-shirts popping up, fake fender badges on eBay and even other makes of cars wearing the SRT Demon head, from Mini Coopers to a recently spotted Chevy Camaro! To me, there is no bigger point of pride than when people not only leave the badges on their vehicles, but celebrate them on cars that it was never intended for!

Although the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is a limited one-year release car, its legacy is going to live on through breaking rules in the auto industry and breaking records on the track. I’m very humbled to be part of the team to rebirth this legend!

By Keven Carter

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