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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 June 20, 2017

The Demon has been officially unleashed. What makes it special?

When Dodge set out to create the new Demon, two goals were running a 9-second quarter mile and pulling the front wheels off the ground on launch. They ended up hitting both goals - and getting the quickest quarter-mile time in the world, for a production car.

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The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon was 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 unleaded racing fuel.

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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. The 2018 Challenger SRT Demon jumped ahead of the F12 and the Veneno, resting at fourth on the list of the most powerful full-production road cars in the world.

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The 840 horsepower and 770 pound-feet of torque makes the newest Challenger the quickest production road car in the world in more than one metric. 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. Zero to 100 mph from a full stop only takes 5.1 seconds; and the Demon covers the quarter mile in just 9.65 seconds.

The NHRA-certified quarter-mile time of 9.65 at 140 miles per hour is the fastest for any production road car in the world, period, in the quarter mile. Second place is the Bugatti Veyron.

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Those numbers were achieved with the skinny front wheels and the high octane race fuel computer. 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. (The Demon's Eco mode, which starts the car in second gear and limits power to 500 hp, runs a 11.59 quarter-mile.)

The new Demon meets emission rules in all 50 states, even when running in 100-octane mode.

The ordering process

Dealers will be allocated new Demons based 60% on past SRT Hellcat sales and based 40% on past Challenger/Charger sales. The Demon Concierge program, accessible by both dealers and buyers, is handling the orders; a notarized "acknowledgement document," covers safety considerations and the price (reproduced at the bottom of this page). Cars sold at or below the list price will get build priority; cars with high markups will be built last.

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Including the gas guzzler tax, destination, Demon Crate, and both passenger 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 list 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.

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

  • Comfort Audio Group (passenger seat, 9-speaker/900-watt Harman Kardon sound system, floor mats, and bright pedals): $995. Publicity materials refer to the 9-speaker setup as an 18-speaker one by counting each cone separately.
  • Leather Front Seat Group: Heated/cooled Laguna leather and Alcantara suede-wrapped seats with embossed logos; and heated steering wheel, a power tilt and telescope steering wheel, floor mats, and bright finished pedals, for $1,595.
  • Comfort Group with Leather Seats combines these packages, for $2,495.
  • Red seat belts are $195; a satin black hood costs $1,995 while the satin black graphics package, which paints the hood, roof and deck lid in satin black, costs $3,495.
  • The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon has what might be the most expensive sunroof option that we have ever seen: $4,995, mainly because adding a sunroof to a drag car is so counter-intuitive.

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.

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The 6.2L Hellcat V8's 2.4L supercharger has been replaced with a 2.7L version; and boost was raised from 11 pounds to roughly 14.5 psi when running on the 100+ octane race gas (closer to 15 with ideal conditions).

The valve train and rotating assembly of the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon (crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons) have been strengthened. Otherwise, and not counting the Torque Reserve system, intercooler chiller, and bigger blower, 100-octane tune, and reinforcing various components, the Demon engine isn't all that different from the Hellcat cars.

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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, with a higher stall torque convertor and the integrated TransBrake, which works with the Torque Reserve system.

When a Hellcat Challenger launches, it has almost no boost pressure, resulting in around 100 lb-ft of torque to start. 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 is how it can 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.]

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A Dodge rep confirmed that while the torque convertor is designed with a stall speed of 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.

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When did Allpar know? Our first news article on the "Dodge Challenger ADR," a widebody for drag racing, came in early to mid 2015. Our first article on the subject was posted on August 27, 2015; Danno even quoted 315-width tires.

Costs and Production Numbers. Each Demon comes with a leather-bound book which explains all of the unique features, 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). The Demon buyer's name is applied to the Demon Crate, which has a matching VIN to the car. Dealerships must provide a name; buying for resale makes the car less attractive to some buyers.

Dodge will build 3,300 of the 2018 Dodge Challenger Demons - 3,000 for the US and 300 for Canada. Allocations to dealers were given out on June 20, so dealerships couldn't tell prospective buyers that they "might get a car."

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Odds and Ends.
Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis told us about some of the hottest Demon topics outside of power numbers and track times.

All-wheel drive was never a consideration for the Demon. Having big, sticky tires up front makes the car far safer for road use than the race skinnies. 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.

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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.

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The 2-piece driveshaft of the 2018 Challenger Demon helps cut vibration and excess noise from the cabin. Rather than go to a one-piece driveshaft, the company opted for a significantly stronger two-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 covers problems which occur on the dragstrip, even on 100-octane fuel, but only in stock form. Any aftermarket engine tuning, nitrous, pulley swaps, or such impact the warranty. In bone-stock form, damage which occurs 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.

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

In short, the 2018 Dodge Demon is the greatest muscle car of all time when it comes to doing what muscle cars have always done best.

Older notes

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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.

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When a driver launches the average automatic-transmission car at the drag strip, they pull into the staging beams, and hold the brake pedal down while easing into the throttle to increase engine speed. 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 spinning the rear wheels or pushing the front wheels. 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 - 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, quicker than in a car being launched with the two-foot method.

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 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.

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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.

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.

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The Demon has a much wider and taller scoop at the front of the hood, measuring 45.2 square inches, the biggest 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.

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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.

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A new 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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These tires were specifically designed for the Demon, with a unique rubber compound and construction. With this extra grip, Dodge is putting more power to the wheels, with a new set of 3.09 rear gears.

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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 also has a new torque convertor, which is also to yield 18% more torque multiplication - so it can have 35% greater launch force than the Hellcat before any potential power increases are factored in.

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 poor 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.

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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.

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.

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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 flashed across the screen. Much of the information was place-holders.

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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.

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

Mark Trostle talked about the Demon design - the hood scoop, fender flares, wheels, aero, and such. We also talked with Dodge chief Tim Kuniskis about what makes the Demon so wicked (a tech deep-dive).

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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