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by Patrick Rall
Since before the 2018 Challenger SRT Demon was unveiled last month, our readers have proposed many questions about the unique exterior design of the world’s quickest production car.
While the Demon is technically “just a Challenger” with wheel flares, a unique hood and different wheels, both our readers and our writers have come up with plenty of questions about why the company created the Demon in this form. Fortunately, I had a chance to speak with Mark Trostle about the Demon exterior design and he was able to answer every question which has been posed to Allpar about the drag-race-ready Mopar Muscle car.
The most prominent unique feature of the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon exterior design is the addition of a 47mm-wide wheel flare at each corner. A great many of our readers have chimed in on these flares, stating that they would just take them off if they bought a Demon, or if they wanted a Challenger with flares, they would buy a Challenger and add flares. Other Hellcat owners insist that the flares are unnecessary, since they run 315 tires on their own vehicle without any flares.Not surprisingly, Dodge didn’t just throw a set of wheel flares on the Hellcat Challenger and call it a Demon; and even less surprisingly, they have a good reason for adding these flares.
If you remove the composite wheel flares from the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon – which are made from the same material as the front and rear fascia (thermoplastic olefins or TPO) - you will not find the nicely finished fenders and quarter panels that are present on the Hellcat Challenger. The Demon uses unique sheet metal, with flared portions along the top edge of all four wheel openings which offer extra space for the wider Nitto drag radials. Those raised metal portions also provide extra support for the composite flares, but the bottom line is that the Demon doesn’t just have stick-on flares over the Hellcat body parts. In addition to the flared metal portions, there are 22 bolt holes for each flare, guaranteeing the cleanest, tightest fit possible.
Next, while some owners run 315mm-wide tires on their Hellcat Challengers without any legal issues, automakers are subject to different standards than the average driver. When you or I add wider tires to our vehicle, we just need to make sure that they don’t stick way out, lest we risk being fined for our tires extending out past the edge of the body panels. For the automaker, it isn’t quite as simple, as there are federal regulations and internal requirements on how far the tires of a given vehicle rest from the edge of the body – and the automaker has to worry about how the tires fit relative to the body in more situations than just when the vehicle is sitting still with the front wheels pointed straight ahead. Dodge added the 47mm flares at all four corners because to meet the internal and government requirements; that extra wheel-well width was necessary.
The addition of the wheel flares to the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is not purely aesthetic. The quarter panels and fenders have a unique design, but it doesn’t look as clean and finished as the bolt-on flares. To get the wider tires approved by the NHTSA and the company management, the designers had to widen the body; and the most effective means to do that is by adding a mild flared design to the sheet metal, then covering that unique sheet metal with the composite flares
While the Demon flares look similar to the flares which we first saw on the Dodge Challenger GT AWD Concept at SEMA, those flares have different styling lines and different corner markers.
Finally, in addition to adding the flares to make the wheel/tire combo legal for road use, the team had to create a new amber front corner marker for the 2018 Challenger Demon. Because of this, the Demon has a unique amber lens which starts on the fender and angles up onto the surface of the front wheel flares.
The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon has a new hood which returns the Air Grabber name to the Mopar world. This new Air Grabber uses the biggest air intake offered on any factory production car in America, with 45 square inches of opening working to feed the supercharged engine through the unique intake system.
The Air Grabber hood brought about a revised topside to the hood when compared to the Hellcat models, but the underside of the Demon Air Grabber hood is also unique. To make room for the Air Grabber scoop and air channel system and to handle the increased forces of that large scoop, the team had to redesign the structure of the hood for improved rigidity.
While the Demon is electronically limited to 168 miles per hour due to the speed rating on the Nitto drag radial tires, the hood and flares are good for much higher speeds – so those buyers looking to run the half mile won’t have to worry about the flares peeling away at 180 miles per hour.
Next, unlike the new Challenger T/A, the Challenger Demon doesn’t come with the awesome Mopar hood pins. Mark Trostle explained that while the Mopar hood pins don’t weigh more than a pound or so, the team wanted to remove every ounce possible. Since federal regulations require the traditional central hood latch system, the hood pins are more aesthetic than anything, so the design team left hood pins up to the owner.
Also while talking to Mark Trostle about the hood, I asked him if there was any consideration for a more aerodynamic front fascia design, similar to that found on the 1969 Dodge Charger 500. Back in 1969, Dodge pulled the grille and headlights of the Charger out to the leading edge of the metal body work, removing the “pocket” in front of the standard Charger grille/headlights and improving the aerodynamic flow of the front end.
Unfortunately, there are laws stating how far the headlight lenses have to be from the leading edge of the front fascia, so the grille and headlights and only be so close to flush with the rest of the front end lines. The slight improvements in aerodynamic drag also wouldn’t play a big enough role for the Demon to be worth the additional cost or effort of redesigning the upper front fascia, so rather than trying to eliminate the indented area around the headlights, FCA uses that area to help draw as much cooling air into the engine bay as possible.
The flared body design of the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is intended to comfortably (and legally) house the huge 315mm-wide drag radials, but when you swap to the skinny “front runner” wheels for track use, they sit far in from the edge of the body. This has led some readers to question why the company didn’t use a skinny front wheel which fills out the wheel well a bit better if they were going to add the flares.
The company probably could have picked a front runner wheel which extends further towards the flared wheel opening, but there are two downsides to that approach. A wheel with a bigger offset generally weighs a little more and the company wanted to cut every ounce possible; and having the wheels so close to the chassis also improves aerodynamics. With a wheel further from the chassis, there is more drag created at higher speeds without any performance increase, so rather than worrying about how well the race wheels look, the team made sure that the skinny front wheels offered the best performance possible.
Finally, some readers have asked why the Demon name doesn’t appear anywhere on the outside of the car. The only unique badging on the Demon are the 3-D Demon head logos on the front fenders.
Mark Trostle explained that the decision to skip a Demon font logo on the exterior follows the whole idea of, “if you know, you know.” Anyone in the performance world is going to recognize the Demon by the wheel flares, the Air Grabber hood, and the lightweight 18-inch wheels wrapped in the Demon-branded Nitto drag radial tires – along with the Demon head logos.
The Demon doesn’t need to have its name on the car, as anyone who needs to know that this isn’t your average Challenger won’t need to read the name to know what they are lining up against.
Dodge Challenger Demon • The Demon Reveal • Behind the Demon hints • Demon colors • Original Demon
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