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We Drove the Dodge Demon: The World's First Drag Racer With a Warranty

How serious are the cars created by Dodge’s Street and Racing Technology division? Enough for buyers to receive a course at the Bondurant School for High Performance Driving with their purchase.

How serious is Dodge about SRT? Enough to provide the department with all the resources it needs to develop outrageously adept performance cars, including the required brainpower. The SRT team is composed of ex-SCCA Runoffs champs, nationally competitive autocrossers and drag racers, and big-brained automotive engineers. They claim their vehicles are much more than just pumped-up versions of existing products; they’re completely reengineered with the aim of being the best in the world at what they do.

One of the group’s latest creations is the Dodge SRT Challenger Demon, and we recently drove it one quarter-mile at a time. Consider this: The Dodge Demon, when launched properly, can reach 140 mph in less time than it took you to read this sentence.

The numbers are stunning: 840 horsepower, 770 ft.-lbs. of torque, zero to 60 in 2.3 seconds, and a quarter-mile in 9.65 seconds at 140 mph.

Here’s what makes those numbers even more impressive: The Demon is smog legal in all 50 states, meets NHTSA safety standards, and comes with a three-year, 36,000-mile warranty. That warranty, by the way, isn’t voided if you take your Demon drag racing.

Be advised that if you do launch the car correctly, that run will be your last one of the day. That’s because NHRA rules require any car breaking into the 9s to have a roll cage. While the Demon is much more user-friendly than any 840-horsepower car has a right to be, we found that it takes quite a bit of throttle control to coax a sub-10-second run out of it.

Why build such an outrageous machine? As the SRT team explains, although drag racing is immensely popular in the U.S., it’s been a long time since any automaker has developed a street-legal car specifically aimed at that market. Sure, there have been pure race cars like the Mustang Cobra Jet and the COPO Camaro, but neither of those had a VIN-and certainly not a warranty.

The Demon is also the first production car to come equipped with a transmission brake. This bit of technology allows the engine to spin while binding the driveshaft. Release the transmission brake, and the weight shifts to the rear, the nose rises, and the car launches with such force that it lifts and carries the front wheels completely off the ground.

At the same time, the engine lets out a deafening roar and the supercharger shrieks. The acceleration is mind-bending and disorienting at first, but you soon realize how stable and controllable the Demon is. After a few launches, mid-10-second passes became second nature. It’s that easy to drive.

While the GRM world doesn’t revolve around drag racing, we still came away mighty impressed with the Demon. What we have here is the quickest, most violent production car ever produced. Amazingly, thanks to its softly sprung suspension aimed more at launching than carving apexes, the Demon is docile enough to drive every day. With a price tag of $85,000, it isn’t for everyone, but we sure are happy it exists.

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Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
10/12/17 1:50 p.m.

Does anybody else recognize that drag strip?

06HHR
06HHR HalfDork
10/12/17 1:54 p.m.

In reply to Ed Higginbotham :

Gainesville Raceway, home of the Gatornationalslaugh  And the $2017 Challenge!

John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
10/12/17 2:07 p.m.

I do recognize and then my first thought was, "I wonder if it will be there for The Challenge?"  

I further thought, "wouldn't it be fun if the General Tire Challenge went straight in a borrowed car rather than in circles!"  

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
10/12/17 2:36 p.m.

That indeed is Gainsville Raceway.  This was where the SRT engineers coaxed a 9.65  run out of a completely stock Demon.

While it's easy to  run low 10s in the Demon, getting into the 9s requires a delicate throttle foot--- as 840hp and 770 lb/ft will incinerate even sticky rubber very easily.  

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
10/12/17 3:28 p.m.

Here's a couple of other cool things about the Demon that due to space constraints didn't make the story.

* When the car is in "Drag" mode, the A/C is diverted from the cabin, directly into the intake charge.  This "Chiller" is claimed to add 10-15 hp.

* The Demon comes with a "Line Lock" for heating up the rear tires before a drag launch.  Although performing a brake torque is simple with that much power on hand

* By the time I attended the launch, three other waves of journalists had pounded on the cars. (both the widebody Hellcat Challenger  and the Demon)  I was allowed as many 1/4 mile runs in the Demon as I wanted...as were the others there.  No mechanical failure in any of the cars.  The Demons were actually let to idle the entire day--- as they waited for the next media-type to hop in.  No overheating, no smoke (beside the tires), no issues.

* The Demon shares spring rates with the 300C Sedan.  This,  along with it's generous sidewalls make for a stunningly comfortable ride on the street.  

* Both cars made me giggle like a schoolgirl laugh

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
10/12/17 4:54 p.m.

It's about the best thing to ever happen to a 9-year-old model before replacement, that's for sure!! I hope something equivalent happens to my human body when i turn 70..

Apexcarver
Apexcarver PowerDork
10/12/17 5:00 p.m.

I am still waiting for SRT to make an attempt at something lightweight and attainable.  RWD preferred.

 

Wonder if they could do something with the Fiata?

WildScotsRacing
WildScotsRacing Dork
10/12/17 6:08 p.m.
Apexcarver said:

I am still waiting for SRT to make an attempt at something lightweight and attainable.  RWD preferred.

 

Wonder if they could do something with the Fiata?

What could they really do? Try to Out-Fiata Flyin Miata?

dculberson
dculberson PowerDork
10/12/17 6:37 p.m.

In reply to Apexcarver :

Like a neon or calibur srt?

mazdeuce
mazdeuce MegaDork
10/12/17 6:40 p.m.

I wonder how they are to autocross. And no, "not good" isn't enough of a description. They don't have to win, just be fun. I like cars that are fun.

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
10/12/17 6:55 p.m.

In reply to mazdeuce :

Even if it's the perfect definition of a "point-and-shoot" car, it would still be a fast one between the corners. 

mazdeuce
mazdeuce MegaDork
10/12/17 7:01 p.m.

I ask because the V wagon is a bundle of fun, while the R63 completely sucks. I enjoy autocrossing inappropriate cars as a rule, but I accept that there are some cars that probably aren't fun to toss around the cones. People run stock Civics at the drag strip, therefore someone should autocross a Demon. 

Danny Shields
Danny Shields Reader
10/13/17 5:27 a.m.
Apexcarver said:

I am still waiting for SRT to make an attempt at something lightweight and attainable.  RWD preferred.

 

They did that with the Neon. Not RWD but definitely attainable.  

 

Feedyurhed
Feedyurhed SuperDork
10/13/17 6:26 a.m.

Very cool that it exists. Dodge does performance very well but if something happens to sky rocket fuel prices FCA is going to be in a world of hurt. Maybe it doesn't matter anyway since it looks like Hyundai is interested in purchasing Jeep, RAM and the minivan platform. Not much left besides that. I have always been a Chrysler fan because my Dad was a Chrysler engineer but they sure don't prepare for the future well.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
10/13/17 8:54 a.m.

I've autocrossed the 392 Version of the Challenger, and it was a hoot!  Judging by how well the Hellcat Widebody handled itself on the infield IMS course, I'd bet it would be a blast to autocross.  It would understeer at low speed, but with all that power,  oversteer is a foot-prod away. 

It was a blast on the roadcourse.  Tons of grip, not too much roll, decent steering, and a composed feel.  It's not as much of a handful as you'd think a car this heavy and powerful would be.  I'd stop short of calling it nimble......but not much.  Even the brakes seemed up to the  task of repeated track use.

 

 The Hellcat widebody is big, heavy and ridiculous, but I can see it being a ton of fun, nearly everywhere you take it.  

Track day---- Heck yeah

Drag Strip--- Of course

Autocross--- sure, why not?

Drift event---- oh my! 

Open Road Race---  Sure it tops out at 195mph

Cruise-in event--- yep, star of the show

Fancy Pants Concours--- even the snooty crowd respects 707hp

 

I can appreciate those who don't appreciate the Hellcat Widebody, but there aren't many cars that can do so much, so well.  

 

 

 

Jere
Jere Dork
10/13/17 12:42 p.m.

I hope these sell well, it would make my year to come across one cheap enough to use as a locost donor wink

Byrneon27
Byrneon27 New Reader
10/13/17 1:06 p.m.
mazdeuce said:

I wonder how they are to autocross. And no, "not good" isn't enough of a description. They don't have to win, just be fun. I like cars that are fun.

It has 840hp there's no way it's not going to be fun

 

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
10/13/17 2:07 p.m.
Byrneon27 said:
mazdeuce said:

I wonder how they are to autocross. And no, "not good" isn't enough of a description. They don't have to win, just be fun. I like cars that are fun.

It has 840hp there's no way it's not going to be fun

 

The Demon has 840hp, but I actually prefered the Hellcat Widebody.  The Demon is  a drag car you can daily drive.  The Hellcat Widebody is much  more versitile, if not quite as quick.   

Trackmouse
Trackmouse SuperDork
10/13/17 4:28 p.m.

For poops and gigs, what is real world MPG? Is it like “plan your trips, you may not make it back from Walmart”, or is it “plan your trips, you won’t make it back from the beach”?

mndsm
mndsm MegaDork
10/13/17 4:44 p.m.
mazdeuce said:

I ask because the V wagon is a bundle of fun, while the R63 completely sucks. I enjoy autocrossing inappropriate cars as a rule, but I accept that there are some cars that probably aren't fun to toss around the cones. People run stock Civics at the drag strip, therefore someone should autocross a Demon. 

I expect the report on my desk by lunch. Get to work .

Trackmouse
Trackmouse SuperDork
10/13/17 5:38 p.m.

Also, the churchy side of me wants them to change the name. The sinful side of me doesn’t mind. 

Cotton
Cotton PowerDork
10/13/17 6:03 p.m.

I love he hellcat and the demon.  Glad we live in a time when cars like these exist.

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
10/13/17 6:59 p.m.
Trackmouse said:

Also, the churchy side of me wants them to change the name. The sinful side of me doesn’t mind. 

I'm glad I only have one of those sides to steer me through the cones of life devil

Knurled
Knurled MegaDork
10/13/17 7:16 p.m.
Byrneon27 said:
mazdeuce said:

I wonder how they are to autocross. And no, "not good" isn't enough of a description. They don't have to win, just be fun. I like cars that are fun.

It has 840hp there's no way it's not going to be fun

 

Spoken like someone who never tried to drive an 840hp car.

On the street?  It sucks, after the first five minutes at best.

The phrase "never meet your heroes" has basis in fact indecision

 

(disclaimer:  have only ever driven two, maybe three, >840hp vehicles.  All forced induction so theoretically street friendly.  But you can't use the power, ever.  You can't use HALF the power, ever.)

twistedwankel
twistedwankel
10/13/17 7:17 p.m.

Of the 3 Pony cars the Challenger is the most usable due to the backseat leg room.  They took the back and passenger seats totally out for the Demon but you can buy them both for $1 each.  That's pretty funny actually.  I wouldn't mind having those seats for the Lanai smiley

Knurled
Knurled MegaDork
10/13/17 7:42 p.m.

I'm just thrilled that there are people out there who recognize Challengers and Camaros and Mustangs as ponycars, and not musclecars.

Byrneon27
Byrneon27 New Reader
10/14/17 9:09 p.m.
Knurled said:
Byrneon27 said:
mazdeuce said:

I wonder how they are to autocross. And no, "not good" isn't enough of a description. They don't have to win, just be fun. I like cars that are fun.

It has 840hp there's no way it's not going to be fun

 

Spoken like someone who never tried to drive an 840hp car.

On the street?  It sucks, after the first five minutes at best.

The phrase "never meet your heroes" has basis in fact indecision

 

(disclaimer:  have only ever driven two, maybe three, >840hp vehicles.  All forced induction so theoretically street friendly.  But you can't use the power, ever.  You can't use HALF the power, ever.)

I've spent my share of time behind the wheel of a few different hellcats. Been involved in the building of more hellcat power level vehicles than I care to think about. Highest power thing I've owned and driven regularly is at least 150hp shy of a hellcat but also close to 1500lb lighter. Too much power is the right amount for me. 

The magic of the hellcat cars is they're only ridiculous when you ask them to be. Perfectly docile on the street and maniacal laughter (and prison) is just a toe curl away. 

A Demon sans drag tires is bound  to be fun to autocross if for no other reason somebody who truly doesnt get the concept of fun (we all know an autocrosser who takes it all far too seriously) will spend the whole day telling anybody within earshot that his CRX/Miata/Focus/Whatever is actually faster. 

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
10/14/17 9:42 p.m.
Feedyurhed said:

Very cool that it exists. Dodge does performance very well but if something happens to sky rocket fuel prices FCA is going to be in a world of hurt. Maybe it doesn't matter anyway since it looks like Hyundai is interested in purchasing Jeep, RAM and the minivan platform. Not much left besides that. I have always been a Chrysler fan because my Dad was a Chrysler engineer but they sure don't prepare for the future well.

that's always been Chrysler's problem. They build some hellaciously overpowered cars right up until fuel prices spike too high to support the habit, then they build some decent little cars (k-Car Varients, Neon, and the like) until the prices drop and then out come the big guns again. It is always either/or with them. There is no reason why something like the neon could not still be in production right alongside this.

G_Body_Man
G_Body_Man SuperDork
10/14/17 10:35 p.m.
Joe Gearin said:

I've autocrossed the 392 Version of the Challenger, and it was a hoot!  Judging by how well the Hellcat Widebody handled itself on the infield IMS course, I'd bet it would be a blast to autocross.  It would understeer at low speed, but with all that power,  oversteer is a foot-prod away. 

It was a blast on the roadcourse.  Tons of grip, not too much roll, decent steering, and a composed feel.  It's not as much of a handful as you'd think a car this heavy and powerful would be.  I'd stop short of calling it nimble......but not much.  Even the brakes seemed up to the  task of repeated track use.

 

 The Hellcat widebody is big, heavy and ridiculous, but I can see it being a ton of fun, nearly everywhere you take it.  

Track day---- Heck yeah

Drag Strip--- Of course

Autocross--- sure, why not?

Drift event---- oh my! 

Open Road Race---  Sure it tops out at 195mph

Cruise-in event--- yep, star of the show

Fancy Pants Concours--- even the snooty crowd respects 707hp

 

I can appreciate those who don't appreciate the Hellcat Widebody, but there aren't many cars that can do so much, so well.  

 

 

 

Man, now I want to see a Hellcat Widebody with a hydraulic handbrake.

aircooled
aircooled MegaDork
10/14/17 11:45 p.m.

So, how many times did they swap tires during this press event?

The car HAS to have some sort of traction control though right?  What quarter mile time would it do with that on?

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
10/16/17 11:53 a.m.

The Demon has a rather sophisticated traction control that is more aimed at reducing wheelhop upon launch, than helping you navigate a slippery corner.

The car will only allow three cycles of the wheel hopping until it steps in and calms things down.  This is why it's so easy  to run low to mid 10 second 1/4 mile times.....even with wheelhop.

I'd imagine the cars all started the day with new rubber---- as I didn't see them changing tires on any of the cars.  

And the Demon and Hellcat both---- are Bob Costascats on the street.  You'd never know all that power was there.....until  you call for it.   I'd honestly have no problems putting my 70 year old Mom behind the wheel--- and having her get groceries.   She'd never realize the Hell waiting to be unleashed under that right pedal.  

The supercharger shriek in the Demon is something else.  As it's coming at you-- it sounds like a cat getting eaten by a bear.   

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