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Demon’s drag suspension: better launches

by Patrick Rall on

The latest release on the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon was announced this morning; so this week, we are talking about the suspension of the next monster muscle car.

This is a new, adjustable, adaptive suspension which should help the Challenger Demon get away from the starting line more quickly and with more force than any factory-built, street legal car before it.

The basic suspension architecture of the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon looks similar to the normal Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, except that the adaptive dampers will focus more on launch force than handling.

Old school drag racers 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. With this setup, when someone launches their tricked-out classic muscle car, 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.

The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is designed to be a drag strip beast and a solid road car, so engineers worked their way around the problem — by using the Hellcat Challenger’s mechanical/electronic adaptive and adjustable suspension, with an added “Drag Mode.”

The Challenger SRT Demon includes front springs which have a 35% lower rate (than the Hellcat), rear springs with a 28% lower rate, a front sway bar with a 75% low rate, a rear sway bar with a 44% lower rate and new drag-tuned Bilstein adaptive damping shocks.

When the new Drag Mode is engaged, the adaptive 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.

The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is the first production road car with mechanical/electronic drag racing suspension.

Next, Dodge released a spread which we are unable to decipher, so we have included it below the hardware specs. If anyone can shed some light on this, feel free to post your ideas in the comments below, or in the Allpar forum. The “Software” portion likely refers to the compression and rebound rates of the dampers in Drag Mode under WOT and non-WOT, with firm compression and firm rebound for the rear dampers and firm compression with soft rebound for the front dampers. The numbers, on the other hand, are our next Demon mystery.

The software “code” below might be explained by suspension engineer and race specialist Ian Sharp’s words: “It is related to torque split and/or torque vectoring, either front to rear or front side to side, and diagonally on very sophisticated systems. This is probably related to how power is delivered, whereas electronic stability control is somewhat the inverse as it relates to how each individual wheel brake is applied to maintain dynamic stability.”

35% lower rate front springs/28% lower rate rear springs
75% lower rate hollow front sway bar/44% lower rate rear sway bar
Drag-tuned Bilstein Adaptive Damping Shocks

Rear = F/F and Front = F/S
F/F – F/S maintained @ wide open throttle (WOT)
F/F – F/F < WOT
Traction control disabled/ESC maintained

13,[email protected]

Today’s announcement is accompanied by the newest teaser video, titled ‘Third Law’.  Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite re-action. In this video, the front and rear suspension components are highlighted in a computer generated launch sequence.


Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.

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