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2018 Dodge Demon: 840 horsepower, no waiting

During the heyday of big-inch V-8 musclecars, drag racing was the forum for validating carmaker power claims. But even though the Big Three helped quarter-mile teams with backdoor hardware support, none of them offered models specifically conceived and equipped for the strip.

Delete options, yes. Limited production special order options, sure. But dedicated drag racers? Not really. Not, that is, until now.

Unveiled on the eve of the New York auto show, the Dodge Demon (formally, the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon) is street legal, but designed and equipped to star at the strip.

Light and fast

Drag-oriented details: Mass is the enemy of low elapsed times, so there’s no rear seat, and the front passenger seat is a delete option. The audio system is minus 16 speakers, an amplifier, and allied wiring. No trunk deck cover trim, no carpeting, and no spare tire cover. No detail is too small: hollow front and rear antiroll bars of reduced diameter; reduced sound deadening material; lightweight aluminum brake calipers, smaller brake rotors, and lightweight wheels with open lug nuts. All told, it adds up to a 200-pound weight reduction. (You can have the rear and front passenger seats reinstalled for $1 each. And you can also have leather and premium audio.)

Traction is supplied by a set of sticky Nitto NT05R drag racing tires, 315/40, on 11 x 18-inch. The Nittos are all but slick, for optimum grip, and provide a 15 percent bigger contact patch than the tires on the Challenger Hellcat, according to Dodge. The fat tires and fender flares add 3.5 inches to the Demon’s width, making it the widest Challenger.

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Mega muscle

The number one key element for any drag racer, of course, is what’s under the hood. Or, in this case, under the biggest hood scoop (Air Grabber) Chrysler has ever affixed to a production car. The Fiat Chrysler Automobile SRT (Street and Racing Technology) troops have already turned a good many heads with the supercharged Hellcat V-8, 707 horsepower, 650 pound-feet of torque.

So as you might guess, there’s a Hellcat V-8 under the hood of this dedicated drag car. But it’s no ordinary Hellcat (if any Hellcat can be called ordinary). The Demonization includes a bigger supercharger, enhanced intercooler, increased air intake with a special cooling function, two fuel pumps (versus Hellcat’s one), bigger fuel injectors, higher boost pressure (14.5 psi), higher redline (6500 rpm), and higher fuel line pressure. There’s also a Direct Connection controller that allows the engine to use 100-octane fuel, another production car first.

The net is a Hellcat that churns up 840 horsepower and 770 lb-ft of torque.

Laying down the rubber

As important as it is, power is only half of the quarter-mile equation. The other half is getting it onto the pavement, wasting as little energy as possible in wheelspin. In addition to its Nitto drag rubber, the Demon is equipped with two devices to optimizes launches—a TransBrake for the upgraded 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission, and Torque Reserve, which increases engine torque for maximum getaway grunt.

The Demon’s launch tech also allows the driver to spin the rear tires while the car is stationary, a standard drag racing trick to get heat into the rubber for optimal grip. The net of all the techno tricks and massive power is acceleration unprecedented in any street legal production car ever offered by FCA or, for that matter, any other carmaker.

FCA claims 0-to-60 test track times of 2.3 seconds. More impressive, the Demon claims a quarter-mile time of 9.65 seconds at 140 mph, both certified by the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), both world records for a production car. Still another record associated with brute force acceleration: the highest straight-ahead g-force—1.8 g—exerted by any production car.

And an index of the mastodon grunt those Nittos are transmitting to the pavement: the SRT test crew recorded a production car record launch wheelie. The phenomenon—so much thrust at the rear that it lifts the front wheels off the pavement—is common in drag cars, such as pro stock, which is why they have wheelie bars extending aft. But it’s unheard of in production cars, and the Demon’s feat, raising the front wheels for 2.92 feet coming out of the hole, goes in as a Guninness World Record.

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Crate goods

Other extras include a removable rollover bar and the Demon Crate. Specified by Direct Connect Performance Parts, the Demon Crate is designed to fit in the trunk and contains an extensive inventory of components designed to enhance track performance: skinny front wheels and tires for use at the strip; a conical low-restriction air filter; a powertrain control module calibrated for 100 octane fuel; a tool bag; cordless impact wrench; hydraulic floor jack; a torque wrench; and a tire pressure gauge.

The tools bear the Demon logo, and the Crate is customized with the buyer’s name, and the car’s VIN. Supplied by Speedlogix, the rollover bar secures to four mounting points inside the cabin.

As a footnote, this is not the first Dodge Demon. The name appeared in 1971, as a version of the Dodge Dart. But compared to this new edition, that one seems far from demonic. The most potent of its three engine options was a 340-cubic-inch V-8 rated for 275 hp—modest even by the standards of the day.

The new Demon is due to go into production this fall at FCA’s assembly facility in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. And that production will be very limited—just 3000 cars for the U.S., and 300 for Canada.

FCA wasn’t ready to discuss pricing at New York, but execs hinted at a price "well below six figures", which could mean somewhere in the $80,000 to $90,000 range.


 

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