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2018 Dodge Challenger Demon: the most specialized Hellcat

840 hp and 770 lb-ft on race fuel • 808 hp and 717 lb-ft on 91-octane “street” fuel

by Patrick Rall
Updated May 23, 2017

The Demon has been officially unleashed, along with all of the information we were discussing since even before the newest SRT Challenger was given a name back in February.

dodge challenger demon hellcat
Guiness certified a world record for longest wheelie from a standing start by a production car, at 2.92 feet.

First of all, let’s get into the key details on the new Demon which have been discussed the most over the past few months – horsepower, torque, acceleration times and quarter mile times.

When Dodge set out to create the new Demon, they had two key guidelines. The car had to run a 9-second quarter mile and it had to pull the front wheels off of the ground on launch. They achieved both of those goals.

dodge demon

Quickest Car in the World. The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the first production road car to lift the front wheels on a hard launch. The Demon power comes from the revamped 6.2L supercharged Hemi, which delivers 808 horsepower and 717lb-ft of torque on premium gasoline (91+ octane) or 840 horsepower at 6,300rpm and 770lb-ft of torque at 4,500rpm when running 100-octane (or better) unleaded racing fuel.

When the Hellcat Challenger was introduced, it was the sixth most powerful production road car in the world, trailing only the LaFerrari, the McLaren P1, the Porsche 918, the Lamborghini Veneno, and the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. With 840 horsepower, the 2018 Challenger SRT Demon jumps ahead of the F12 and the Veneno - resting at fourth on the list of the most powerful full-production road cars in the world.

dodge demon hellcat 808 horse

The 840 horsepower and 770lb-ft of torque makes the newest Challenger the quickest production road car in the world in a variety of metrics. Launching from a stop to 60 miles per hour takes just 2.3 seconds; since some automakers list their 0-60 times “with rollout,” Dodge did that too – clicking off a 2.1-second run. Launching from a stop and running up to 100mph only takes 5.1 seconds; and the Demon covers the quarter mile in just 9.65 seconds.

An NHRA-certified quarter-mile time of 9.65 at 140 miles per hour makes the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon the quickest production road car in the world, period, in the quarter. This knocks off the Bugatti Veyron’s 6-year old record of 9.70; there is literally no other street car in the world which will turn a quicker quarter mile time in stock form.

hellcat engine

Those record numbers were achieved with the skinny wheels up front and the high octane race fuel computer from the Demon crate. With the stock computer system running on premium gasoline (91+) and the huge 315 Nittos up front, the new supercharged Challenger will still lift the front wheels off of the ground on launch and it will still run a 9-second quarter mile - 9.90 to be exact. (As long as we are talking numbers, we should point out that during testing of the Demon’s Eco mode, which starts the car in 2nd gear and limits power to just 500hp, it still ran an 11.59 quarter-mile.) For the record, the new Demon meets emission requirements in all 50 states, even when running in 100-octane mode.

How much does it cost?

Including the gas guzzler tax, destination, Demon Crate, and the front passenger and rear seats, the list price (MSRP) starts at $86,093 in the United States. If all you care about is running 9.60s with a street legal, factory built muscle car, you can get into the Demon with everything that you need for the low price of $86,091.

The actual MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) is $83,295. The gas guzzler tax adds $1,700, the destination fee adds $1,095, and the Demon Crate, the front passenger seat, and the rear seat assembly each add a dollar, for a total of $3. Normally, the Demon Crate contents would run to $6,140.

dodge demon

The factory trunk carpeting can also be added in for a dollar. Other options cost more:

With every single option, the tag is $97,273 — as Tim Kuniskis promised when the car debuted back in April, the Demon is well below $100,000, even when fully loaded.

How the magic happens

So how did the 2018 Dodge Challenger Demon get to be the quickest and one of the most powerful production cars in the world? Here is a quick rundown.

The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is powered by the basic 6.2L Hemi V8 from earlier Hellcat cars, but there have been a handful of changes to get more than the Hellcat’s 707hp/650lb-ft. Most notably, the Hellcat's 2.4L IHI supercharger has been replaced with a 2.7L IHI unit; and rather than a peak of 11 pounds of boost, the Demon runs on roughly 14.5psi when running on the 100+ octane race gas (closer to 15 with great gas and ideal conditions).

To handle the extra boost, the valve train and rotating assembly of the Demon (crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons) have been strengthened. The Demon's engine is fitted with the new Torque Reserve system and the intercooling chilling system, but other than the bigger blower, the 100-octane tune and reinforcing the various components, the Demon engine isn’t all that different from the Hellcat cars.

demon
Diecast emblem on the cover the 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI® Demon V-8 engine.

All of that power is sent through the same basic 8-speed automatic transmission as the Hellcat cars, except the Demon has a higher stall torque convertor and the integrated TransBrake, which works with the Torque Reserve system to launch with much more power than the Hellcat cars.

When a Hellcat Challenger launches, it is making almost no boost pressure, resulting in around 100 lb-ft of torque at the point of launch. On the other hand, the Demon is running around 8.3 pounds of boost and 534 lb-ft of torque at the point of launch - which should explain how it is able to rip the front wheels off of the ground. In fact, the Demon launches so hard that it creates around 1.8g of acceleration force on launch. [Car & Driver wrote that the Torque Reserve was responsible for 221 extra lb-ft of torque, using 3.9 psi of boost, for a total 405 lb-ft of launch torque.]

drag racing dodge

A Dodge representative confirmed that while the torque convertor is designed to “Stall” around 2,350 rpm; launching with the stock drag radials will have racers leaving the line around just 2,000 rpm, so there is room to improve for those folks who swap to a full slick tire.

The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is the first stock car to be officially banned from NHRA competition in stock form; Demon owners need to add a roll cage to make it legal for competition, because it’s already a 9-second quarter mile car, which requires a roll cage. If you were going to build a standard Hellcat Challenger to run low 9s, you would need to add the components needed for the added power, the stronger driveshaft, the stronger axles, the 18 inch wheels with drag radial tires, and the roll cage. The Demon already has all that — except the cage.

hood scoop

When did Allpar know? Our first news article on the “Dodge Challenger ADR,” a widebody Challenger set up for drag racing with a more-powerful Hellcat engine, came in early to mid 2015. Our first article on the subject was posted on August 27, 2015; source Danno even quoted 315-width tires.

Costs and Production Numbers. Pricing will be announced closer to the dealership debut this summer, but we do know some of the option pricing.

While the Demon doesn’t come with a front passenger seat, a rear seat, or trunk trim from the factory, buyers can add each of those items as an option for a dollar. The front passenger seat costs $1, the back seat costs $1, and the trunk trim costs $1. That Demon Crate with the skinny front wheels, the tools, the high performance PCM, the new switch panel and a few other odds and ends also costs $1, so if you check all of the boxes for those items, it adds $4 to the final price.

Each Demon comes with a leather bound book which the owner receives when the order is placed with FCA by the dealership. This book explains all of the unique features, how things like the TransBrake, intercooler chiller, and the after-run cooling system works, with hints of how to set up the drive mode system for the best possible quarter mile times. This book also includes a race log and a coupon which allows the Demon owner to order their Demon Crate from FCA.

The Crate is sent directly to the owner’s home (or wherever they want it sent), so the dealership isn’t involved in that aspect and it is during this phase where Dodge is doing something interesting to try to prevent greedy dealerships from ordering a car and adding a huge markup without a buyer waiting.

crate

When the Demon buyer orders his or her new Mopar muscle car, that person’s name is applied to the Demon Crate, which has a matching VIN to the car. This cannot be ordered blank, so dealerships will be forced to provide a name and if they just put the dealership name or a generic name, it will make the car less attractive to some buyers. Dealers almost have to order the car with an actual buyer lined up, which should help curb the massive markups.

Dodge will build 3,300 of the 2018 Dodge Challenger Demons — 3,000 for the US and 300 for Canada. Prior to the first batch of orders, every dealership in the US and Canada will be told exactly how many Demons they will be getting. This way, dealerships won’t be able to tell prospective buyers that they “might get a car”, since the dealership will know exactly how many they will get before the first car reaches an owner.

extra wheels

Odds and Ends. Over the past few months, there have been lots of rumors about the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon which have led to lots of questions not addressed by the basic press materials. Fortunately, I had a chance to sit down with Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis and ask him about some of the hottest topics outside of power numbers and track times.

All-wheel drive was never a consideration for the Demon. The car essentially comes with four rear tires, but having those big, sticky tires up front makes the car far safer for road use than the race skinnies. In fact, even with the smaller (than the Hellcat) front brakes, the Demon will get stopped from 60 miles per hour in just 98 feet. That is supercar-like stopping performance.

track

This new Dodge Challenger SRT model was named the Demon from the early stages of development, and the rumored “American Drag Racer (ADR)” won’t be used, contrary to some of the forum rumors. The company wanted a name which would build a reputation similar to the Hellcat, and the Demon name is certainly one which people can remember.

Modified Hellcat cars have been forced to add a reinforcing pin to the crankshaft pulley assembly, but the company believes that there isn’t a problem when the factory top pulley with the clutch system is left intact. However, the lower pulley on the Demon is affixed with more than twice the torque of the unit on the Hellcat engine.

car

The 2-piece driveshaft of the 2018 Challenger Demon was a surprise to some, but the engineers went this route to help remove vibration and excess noise from the cabin. The 2-piece driveshaft effectively dampens vibrations coming through the rear wheels, so rather than go to a 1-piece driveshaft, the company opted for a significantly stronger 2-piece.

The Demon comes with the standard FCA warranty of three-year/36,000-mile bumper to bumper coverage and five-year/60,000-mile limited powertrain coverage. This warranty covers problems which occur on the dragstrip, even when running on 100-octane fuel, but it only covers the car in stock form. Any aftermarket engine tuning, adding nitrous, swapping to a smaller pulley or other power-adding goodies will impact the warranty, but in bone-stock form, damage which occur at your local test-n-tune should be covered. In other words, the Demon is literally a 9.65 quarter mile car with a drivetrain warranty.

Every 2018 Demon buyer will get a one-day session at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving.

dashboard

So, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is finally here, and it is as every bit as impressive as we had expected – arriving as the most powerful American production car ever and the quickest production road car in the world in 0-60, 0-100 and a standard quarter mile.

In short, the 2018 Dodge Demon is, without question, the greatest muscle car of all time when it comes to doing what muscle cars have always done best.

seats
Standard drag-race inspired interior configuration of the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon has driver seat only;
first-ever factory-production Challenger with a front passenger seat delete.

Older notes

Dodge Demon Hellcat SRT

The new Challenger Demon wide-body is laser clearanced, and the entire chassis is e-coated for durability before final assembly. It is the first ever road-going car equipped with a trans brake, which is built into the 8-speed automatic transmission, allowing it to get away from the line harder and more consistently than when launching strictly with the brakes.

 

When a driver launches the average automatic-transmission car at the drag strip, they pull into the staging beams, holding the brake pedal down with their left foot and easing into the throttle with their right foot to increase engine speed before the launch. This method has been used by most drag racers since the dawn of the automatic transmission, but as you add power to the rear wheels, you increase the chances of spinning the rear tires in place or of overpowering the front brakes, pushing the car through the staging beams with the front tires locked. This is especially true of high performance cars with skinny front tires, like the 2018 Challenger Demon.

Most racers get around this is by installing a trans-brake, which essentially “traps” the engine power in the transmission so as they increase engine RPM, there is no power working to spin the rear wheels or push the front wheels with the brakes locked. When the trans-brake is released, all of that power is instantly sent to the rear wheels and the car rockets out of the hole with far more force.

The Demon can launch at 2,350 rpm without touching the brakes, while increasing launch boost pressure by 105% and launch torque levels by 120%. This system provides Demon 40% more torque on launch than trying to launch the car with skinny front tires using only the brakes. It works with the anti-lag system.

When this system is activated, the driver holds down the left shift paddle on the steering wheel, engaging the TransBrake, locking the output shaft, and allowing the driver to increase engine RPM and boost while the car stays stationary – all without touching the brakes. When the driver is ready to launch, they let off the shift paddle and all of the Demon’s power is sent to the rear wheels in roughly 150 milliseconds, which is quicker than the delivery in a car being launched with the two-foot method, for improved track times in every metric.

The Demon TransBrake has a unique preloading feature which applies a moderate amount of power to the drivetrain, but not enough to risk spinning the tires or moving the car. That helps protect the driveshaft, the rear differential and the axle shafts, but and also allows the power delivery to happen so quickly.

Special drag tools and tricks

Many race cars have an electric cooling system to keep the fans on and the coolant moving after the engine is shut off. The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon has a similar system, but rather than the traditional cooling loop, the “After-Run Chiller” pushes air through the intercooler cooling loop; as a result, the Demon will be cooled down and ready for the next run more quickly than, say, the Hellcat Challenger or the Camaro ZL1.

The Demon’s After-Run Chiller is controlled from the infotainment system; it turns itself off when the target temperature is reached, and the driver can monitor the temperatures via the Performance Pages.

 

The 2018 Challenger SRT Demon Performance Pages also have a real-time horsepower graph, timers for 0-60, 0-100, eighth mile and quarter mile, a G-force meter and a full suite of auxiliary gauges which display everything from boost pressure and intake air temperature to oil pressure and engine horsepower. The system lets the driver set up the Line Lock, Launch Control, and gear-by-gear shift light systems.

The Demon will also be the first production road car to come with a “torque reserve” system – or what racers commonly call an anti-lag system. As Dodge wrote, “it lets more air flow through the engine before launch, allowing for increased supercharger rpm without torque overwhelming the brakes and spinning the rear tires.”

Normally, there is a lag between the time you first hammer the throttle to the time when you reach full boost, because the engine has to rev to build pressure in the supercharger. The torque reserve (or anti-lag) system closes the supercharger bypass valve, so boost pressure rises faster; and the engine computer briefly deactivates alternating cylinders to spin the engine faster, while keeping power output low.

On launch, the Demon will leave the line at a higher engine speed and a higher boost level, a performance edge; and it’s a little easier on the drivetrain components when preparing to launch. A byproduct is a unique exhaust sound — the alternating cylinder deactivation creates a distinctive “stutter.”

Air Grabber

Like the Hellcat, the Demon has the driver’s side “Air Catcher” headlight, but it also has the Air Catcher treatment on the passenger’s side assembly – like the new Challenger T/A, and unlike the current Hellcat.

air grabber hood

The Demon has a much wider and taller “scoop” at the front of the hood, measuring 45.2 square inches, making this the biggest hood scoop inlet on any production car in America. It sends air through a channel in the underside of the Demon’s aluminum hood to a larger air box which, when the hood is closed, does not draw any air from the hot engine bay. This new system is called the Air Grabber.

The Air Grabber name is from B-body cars of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which had a manual control knob; the new system is always open, and lowers the intake air temperature by a whopping 30°F. Cooler air leads to more power. Like the modern Shaker hood, the new Demon Air Grabber with have a unique logo under the hood to go along with the unique air intake setup and the duct in the hood.

Weight loss

232 pounds were cut from the Challenger SRT Hellcat. One video and press release showed how.

Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

A unique steering column assembly is four pounds lighter; the parking sensor system was cut to trim two pounds. The brakes have smaller rotors (from 390mm to 360mm) and calipers (6 pistons to 4) to eliminate 16 pounds.

New wheels cut 16 pounds, and various noise/vibration parts were taken out to slash 18 pounds. Lightweight suspension components cut 19 pounds, taking out the spare tire and other trunk materials gained 20 pounds of loss, and a scaled down audio system cut 24 pounds.

The Demon doesn’t come from the factory with a rear seat (cutting 55 pounds) or a passenger seat (cutting 58 pounds). That’s the biggest factor in the 232-pound diet: 113 pounds of seats.

Extra gear

The 2018 Dodge Challenger Demon comes with “eighteen components that maximize the Challenger SRT Demon’s flexibility, exclusivity, and future collectability” — Direct Connection performance parts, Demon-branded track tools, matching spare wheels, and the Demon Track Pack System.

Dodge Demon number plate 

The plaque suggests that the crate will be paired with each car. The serial number is 0757; you have to wonder if perhaps that isn’t another subtle clue, along with the VIN ending 1121.

demon bag

The spare wheels have a similar design to the 18x11 wheels on the Challenger SRT Demon – except they appear to be much narrower. These might be “drag skinnies” — narrow wheels wrapped in narrow tires to reduce front end weight and aerodynamic drag, solely there to allow the driver to keep the car straight.

demon crate

The company also released what may be a second and unrelated box, cobranded with Snap-On, including a hydraulic floor jack, cordless impact wrench, torque wrench, tire pressure gauge, fender cover, and tool bag.

demon stuff

The press release claims, “All come crated with a dozen more parts, including Direct Connection Performance Parts, matching Demon-head logo’d wheels and the Demon Track Pack System.”

Extra grip

The new Demon will be the first ever regular-production, road-legal car to come with drag radial tires— the Nitto NT05R, 315/40R18. Those drag radials are mounted on lightweight 18 inch by 11 inch wheels; with the flared fenders, they make the Demon 3.5 inches wider than the Challenger SRT Hellcat.

extra grip

These tires were specifically designed for the Demon, with a unique rubber compound and construction, so they should work better than other drag radial tires on this monster Mopar muscle car. With this extra grip, Dodge is putting more power to the wheels, with a new set of 3.09 rear gears.

tire deforming under power

The Hellcat Challenger automatic comes with 2.62 rear gears, so the new gearing will transfer 18% more of the engine torque into wheel torque, for quicker quarter mile times. The 3.09 gear swap has been popular with existing Hellcats.

The Demon will also have a new torque convertor, which is also to yield 18% more torque multiplication. That means 35% greater launch force than the Hellcat – before any potential power increases are factored in. 

Adding to the grip is a specially retuned adaptive and adjustable suspension. Drag racers used to set up their suspensions to transfer weight to the rear wheels for better traction, with soft springs and dampers up front, and stiffer dampers in the rear. The front end comes up and the weight of the car pushes down on the rear wheels as the rear shocks help keep the wheels down for the best launch. The downside is decreased handling in normal driving, so while a car with the drag-strip suspension might get off of the line much quicker, a stock car would handle a turn better.

dodge challenger hellcat demon suspension

Engineers used the Hellcat Challenger’s mechanical/electronic adaptive and adjustable suspension to work around the problem by adding “Drag Mode.” The front springs have a 35% lower rate (than the Hellcat), the rear springs with a 28% lower rate; the front sway bar has a 75% lower rate, the rear sway bar has a 44% lower rate, and new drag-tuned Bilstein adaptive damping shocks are included.

When the new Drag Mode is engaged, the suspension enables better weight transfer to the rear wheels for better launches. Otherwise, the driver can engage a street-friendly mode for stronger cornering and ride quality.

Extra strength

Drag racing tends to break driveline parts, especially the driveshaft, rear differential, and the axle shafts; so the 2018 Challenger SRT Demon team has beefed up each one, compared with the Hellcat.

The driveshaft is of high strength steel, with tube walls 20% thicker than the normal Hellcat’s, and it can safely send 15% more torque to the rear wheels. The rear differential is stronger inside and out, with a case of heat treated A383 aluminum alloy and higher strength internals, to handle 30% greater torque levels. The half shafts have 41 splines made of a high strength alloy that can handle 20% greater torque levels.

Finally, to make it easier to install a racing harness, there will be an optional four-point safety bar which bolts in behind the front seats without cutting or drilling.

Hints and graphs

During the last few seconds of a March video, a spread of screens for the Demon’s Performance Pages system flash across the screen. This quick glimpse might unlock all sorts of answers to this new Challenger’s greatest mysteries, but I think that much of the information included is nothing more than random information added for display purposes.

dodge demon performance pages

This first screen is likely one of the configurable gauge screens (above), showing the horsepower, the g-forces, the boost pressure and the gear selection – none of which have any key numbers in this shot. The second screen shows the dyno graph which debuted on the Durango SRT.

The third screen in the Demon Performance Pages video shows auxiliary gauges. The most significant numbers are the 0-60 or 3.0 and the 0-100 or 6.08. The fourth screen shows the performance timer readout, same as in other Dodges. The fifth and sixth screen both show more auxiliary gauges without any significant figures.

The seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth still images of the 2018 Challenger SRT Demon Performance Pages show graphs which could be revealing key information, but the line in the graph remains the same in every image! While the numbers on the side change, the line remains the same in every graph, so it’s most likely that a random line was added to make the graphs more interesting. (This turned out later to be the case.)

On the Boost Pressure screen, there is a Demon logo blocking out the peak, but it looks like it tops out somewhere around 15psi based on the other graphs.

On the Air/Fuel Ratio screen, where the line reaches its highest point, the car would be far too lean to be safe for the engine. Finally, the IC Coolant Temp levels spike in an unusual manner – leading me to believe that this isn’t a line graph which we would see in a properly-tuned, supercharged Dodge Demon.

The eleventh image from the Demon Performance Pages video shows the G-meter, with 1.45g of launch forces— reasonable for a high performance muscle car with sticky tires.

We can also see the mention of the Red Key, suggesting that the Demon will use a multi-key setup, and we can see that there is a Valet Mode and an Eco Mode – for those folks who want to get great mileage on the way to the track.

Finally, the last image of the Demon Performance Pages application shows some of the drag race options, already discussed.

Here’s what all those Demon hints and mystery numbers meant... and the reveal. Here are the colors.

Mark Trostle talked with Patrick Rall about the Demon design — the hood scoop, fender flares, wheels, aero, and such.

The original Demon was a version of the 1971 and 1972 Dodge Dart, based on the Plymouth Duster. It came with a choice of slant sixes, a 318 V8, and the potent 340 V8, which accounted for roughly 1/8 of sales — but the image that endures is the Demon 340.


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Dodge ambulances Mopar squads, 1980-2000