Dodge unveils 840-horsepower Demon, the fastest production car in the world

Detroit Free Press

The Challenger SRT Demon will go on the market with 840 horsepower and 770 pound-feet of torque, the ultimate halo car that car buffs across the country have been awaiting for months.

“This is a car unlike anything we've ever done,” Tim Kuniskis, head of passenger car brands for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said as he reveled the car before about 500 fans and members of the media ahead of the New York International Auto Show. “This car, for the people who race it, who build it and develop it will share that pride across more than a track. Demon is another halo that will transcend a core group of enthusiasts.”

The reveal of the Dodge Demon brought the racing world, the movie industry, hip-hop and the auto industry together on one stage for a night that those who attended are unlikely to forget.

Race car driver Leah Pritchett, who worked with Dodge engineers to perfect the car, said the hardest thing about her involvement in the Demon project was keeping quiet about it.

“It is fast, it is quick...this car is the epitome of power,” she said. “Everything has been beefed up. Its sturdy, its stout.”

Dodge said the Demon is the world's fastest 0-60 production car: It can get there in 2.3 seconds. And from 0-30 m.p.h: 1 second.

Olivier Francois, Fiat Chrysler's chief marketing officer, talked about Dodge's partnership with its cars that have appeared in the “Fast and Furious” movies and then brought rapper Wiz Khalifa to the stage.

Then, after the Demon screamed across giant stage in a demonstration of its drag-racing prowess, actor Vin Diesel, star of those movies, walked onto the stage.

“As you know, I have been related to the Dodge family for some time now,” Diesel said. “Cars like Demon are why I'm proud to be the new ambassador of Dodge.”

The car is barely street legal. In fact, it's basically designed to be driven - rather than hauled - to the local drag strip. To save weight, Dodge removed the front passenger seat and the rear seat. Customers can still buy them as options - for $1 each.

It also consumes premium gasoline and won't run so well on regular gas. Fuel-economy figures were not provided.

Among the unique options: “Front-runner” wheels for use at drag strips, a foam case for those wheels and track tools to help the owner change the wheels.

Production of the limited-edition, single-model-year Challenger SRT Demon is to begin this summer, with 3,000 planned for the U.S. and 300 for Canada. Deliveries to Dodge/SRT dealers will begin this fall.

The Dodge Demon will appeal to only a small number of buyers but will be of interest to car enthusiasts everywhere. It fits squarely into the strategic direction of the Dodge brand, which is to epitomize an “American performance brand.”

What's under the hood

Dodge has been promoting the Demon with teaser videos and pieces of information each week. The Demon is expected to make its movie debut Friday in the “Fate of the Furious,” the eighth movie in the “Fast and Furious” franchise.

Still, a good bit of the Demon isn't new at all. The Demon - like the Challenger Hellcat before it - is adapted from the existing Challenger. Assembled in Brampton, Ontario, it is built on a platform that is about a decade old.

Still, the stalwart car has given Fiat Chrysler a muscle car that has stood the test of time and has proven itself to be adaptable to a number of trim levels.

The most important part of the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is under the hood. It is powered by a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI Demon V8.

It would be easy to assume that the engine in the Demon is just a tweaked version of the Hellcat engine that debuted in 2014. Dodge says that assumption would be wrong. The Demon's V8 does share its architecture with the 707-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 Hemi that powers the Hellcat engine. However, more than 50% of the components in the Demon V8 differ from those of the Hellcat V8.

The engine has a larger supercharger, a higher limit on the revolutions per minute, strengthened connecting rods and pistons, and an improved lubrication system. It also has three sources of intake air that include an “Air-Grabber” hood, a driver-side air catcher and an inlet in the wheel liner.

Who dares to take it on?

Dodge says the Hemi Demon V8 is the highest horsepower V8 production-car engine ever produced. But Fiat Chrysler's Dodge brand isn't the first to push the outer limits of horsepower.

Just last week Hennessey Performance, a custom car builder, announced it had built the Exorcist, “Hennessey's answer to the Demon.”

It is based on the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Hennessey said it radically increased Chevy's LT4 V8 engine power to 1,000 horsepower. But Hennessey is taking a car that costs about $61,000 when it comes off of an automaker's assembly line with 640 horsepower and is adding $55,000 in upgrades. So, technically, it's not a “production car.”

The Bugatti Veyron pounded out 1,001 horsepower until it was discontinued last year. But the Veyron super-car was equipped with two V8 engines and cost $1.7 million. Bugatti is now working on the Chiron, which is expected to have 1,500 horsepower.

And while Dodge didn't release pricing, it's a good bet that the Demon will sell for a fraction of either Bugatti.

How does it roll?

At 840 horsepoewer, the risk is that drivers are going to shed their tires quickly.

The Challenger SRT Demon is equipped with Nitto NT05R street-legal, drag-race tires. Dodge says that is a first for a factory-production car. The 315/40R18 tires were specifically designed and developed for the SRT Demon, with a new compound and specific tire sidewall construction.

The drag radials give the SRT Demon a 15% larger tire contact patch and more than twice the grip of the Challenger SRT Hellcat.

How dangerous is it?

For those wondering if this car is safe to be driven on the streets, well, Dodge has been thinking about that, as well.

Just last week, a man was arrested in Indiana for going 158 m.p.h. in his Dodge Challenger Hellcat. The driver told police he knew he was going much more than twice the posted speed limit. But, he said, he had recently bought the car and wanted to show his friends in the car what the powerful engine could do.

For the Dodge Challenger Demon, Dodge said, Hagerty will be the official insurance provider. Hagerty is a company for people who love cars, and it already protects many of the rarest high-performance cars in the world.

Also, all customers who buy the Dodge Demon will get one full-day session at the Bob Bondurant School of High-performance Driving. The school is in Chandler, Ariz., near Phoenix. Dodge will cover the cost of the school, but it will not pay for travel and hotel accommodations.

Speak of the devil

Anyone who is uneasy about tossing around the word “demon” should know that the company is resurrecting the name from the early 1970s.

Dodge added a Demon model to its Dodge Dart lineup in 1971. The Demon shared a body with the Plymouth Duster, according to Dodgedemon.net. The Demon featured a different grille and rear taillight assembly. It was offered as two models: the Demon two-door coupe and the Demon 340 two-door coupe, both with V8 engines.

The logo was the word “Demon” in yellow with a devil and a fork in the center over the “M,” according to the website.

bsnavely@freepress.com

Twitter @BrentSnavely

Chris Woodyard of USA TODAY and Holly V. Hays of the Indianapolis Star contributed to this report.

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