Car enthusiasts and the military community are coming together over one U.S. service member's wild car-buying experience. The saga revolves around an unnamed service member overseas, a shady dealership and a very special Dodge Challenger -- and don't worry, it has a happy ending.
The story begins on Dec. 26, 2023, when automotive YouTuber Butter Da Insider posted a video recounting the story of a U.S. service member who, according to the video, had recently purchased the exclusive Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 for $124,741. The buyer is currently deployed to Iraq, so his wife and father were planning on picking up the car from the Mac Haik dealership on his behalf in early January 2024. Instead, the service member discovered that the dealer sold the car out from under him in what now appears to be a frenzy of markups and quick sales without regard for who had originally ordered the limited-edition vehicles.
The story sparked outrage among fellow auto enthusiasts and military veterans on YouTube and garnered substantial media coverage in the car world; after all, nobody likes seeing an active-duty service member screwed over, let alone one deployed overseas.
"I want to see if Mr. Tim Kuniskis, the CEO of Dodge and the person who constantly reminds us of 'the Brotherhood', and Mr. Mac Haik, CEO of Haik Enterprises, will you guys act and make the situation right?" Butter Da Insider asked in his initial video. "Or will you sit around and let your employees backstab an active member of the military that's currently deployed in the Middle East?"
Keep in mind that the car in question is not your average Challenger, and the service member couldn't just pick another one off the lot or take his business to another dealership. The Demon 170 is the fastest production car in company history and a passionate sendoff to a model that is no longer in production. The car's supercharged V8 produces 1,025 horsepower and 945 pound-feet of torque, fires drivers from zero to 60 mph in 1.66 seconds, and crushes the quarter mile in 8.91 seconds at 151.17 mph. For the uninitiated, numbers like that are all but unheard-of in the world of production vehicles.
According to auto journalist Patrick Rall at StellPower, who claims to have spoken to the service member in question, there wasn't another car in the country that matched what the buyer had ordered, namely an F8 Green paint job and a list of special-order options. To complicate matters, production of the Challenger had already ceased, so Dodge couldn't just build another one.
Fortunately for the screwed-over service member, one of the people following this catastrophe was Kuniskis, the aforementioned CEO of Dodge whom Butter Da Insider challenged to make the situation right -- and he was clearly not pleased with the way things were shaking out.
As it turned out, Kuniskis had reserved 40 SRT Demon 170s for a contest to reward high-performing dealerships, and StellPower reports that Kuniskis recalled one of those vehicles, set it aside for the service member and offered customization -- including a new factory paint job -- through the company's $30,000 Jailbreak program at no cost. Oh, and the car is set to be sold at MSRP with no dealer markup. All in all, StellPower reports that the current deal is better for the service member than the original purchase by about $80,000.
It's nice to know that Dodge, already the most popular automotive brand among service members and veterans, stands behind the military community in a meaningful way, but it's not where the story ends: The service member is still deployed and has yet to take possession of the car. And when that happens, it won't be a routine transaction at a local dealership. Instead, Dodge plans to bring the service member to Jay Leno's legendary private garage where he can take the keys in style.
This isn't the first time a service member has felt wronged by a car dealership. Everyone who serves or has served in the military probably knows someone who got a raw deal from a salesman who took advantage of their inexperience and government-backed paycheck. But this story is a welcome reminder that there are still people in the business who genuinely care about service members and will go to great lengths to take care of them.
Kudos to Dodge CEO Timothy Kuniskis, congratulations to the service member on his epic new ride, and cheers to hilariously powerful American V8s. The Brotherhood of Muscle is alive and well.
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