Performance

The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is an absolute beast

Dodge brand boss Tim Kuniskis introduces the 840 hp Challenger SRT Demon at the New York International Auto Show. The drag racing special is the most-powerful American car ever and the quickest car in the world.

 

The Demon makes the Hellcat look like a church mouse.

The wide-body Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is a barely street-legal drag racer with a V8 that can produce up to 840 HP and 770 pound-feet of torque, making it the most powerful American car ever. It’s also the quickest car in the world, with an NHRA-certified 0-60 mph time of 2.3 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 9.65 seconds at 140 mph. That's so quick and fast that you can't even enter it in an NHRA-sanctioned event without installing a roll cage.

Dodge didn’t just turn up the boost on the Challenger SRT Hellcat’s 707 hp 6.2-liter supercharged engine to unleash its inner beast, it updated more than half of its parts and added a laundry list of production-first and high tech features to the Demon.

There’s a larger displacement 2.7-liter supercharger that runs at 14.5 psi boost; strengthened rods, pistons and valvetrain; twin dual-stage fuel pumps; and the largest hood scoop ever used on a muscle car: a 45.2 square inch intake Dodge calls the Air-Grabber that’s apparently still not huge enough, because there’s a second intake in the middle of the inside driver’s side headlight and a third near the wheel liner. At full throttle, the Demon can suck all of the air out of a single-car garage in less than two minutes.

Run now.

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Instead of a simple cold air intake, the Demon cools things down by routing refrigerant from its air conditioner system through a chilling unit that helps drop the temperature of the ambient air by up to 45 degrees before the supercharger stuffs it into the cylinder. There, it can be mixed with as low as 91-octane fuel and turn it into 808 hp and 717 pound feet, but an optional engine controller can be installed that lets it run on 100-octane race fuel to unlock full 840/770, and it doesn’t even void the five-year/60,000-mile warranty. If there’s a blend in the tank, it’ll figure out the best way to burn it.

Regardless of how much power its cranking out, it’s delivered to the rear wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission that’s been re-engineered to handle the torque, a stronger drive shaft, a beefed-up rear axle and a set of larger half shafts compared to the Hellcat’s.

To make use of as much of that power as possible, the Demon comes with a set of nearly-slick 12.6-inch-wide Nitto drag radials and a few electronic tricks to wring everything it can out of them. First, there's a line lock system like the Ford Mustang offers to enable easy burnouts to warm up the rubber. Then there’s a steering wheel paddle-activated transmission brake for quicker and more powerful launches, an active suspension system that encourages the car to squat on its rear wheels under acceleration, and a traction control system programmed to manage wheel hop without you needing to lift off the gas. The Demon takes off so ferociously that Dodge says it’s capable of popping a wheelie nearly a yard high.

Dodge took 200 pounds out of it compared to the Challenger Hellcat by swapping in a few lightweight components, like aluminum brake calipers and open end lug nuts, but mostly by ripping out some carpeting and sound insulation, the parking sensors, 16 speakers and all of the seats except for the driver’s.

Old school.

That makes it the first single-seat production car ever sold by a major automaker, but you can get the passenger seat and rear bench for $1 each, and add a 19-speaker 900 watt audio system for good measure. That is if you’re not too concerned about those last couple of tenths at the track. If you are, you’ll definitely want to order the optional Demon Crate.

The goodie box comes with that engine controller, a set of skinny front-runner drag wheels, a hydraulic floor jack and cordless impact wrench to change them with, plus a tool kit and other Demon-branded accessories to help you turn your car into an even more focused racer at the strip.

Not since the very limited edition drag racing specials of the 1960s has a major automaker sold anything quite like this car, and Dodge is unleashing 3,000 Demons on America for 2018 with another 300 heading to Canada. The price has not yet been announced, but Fiat Chrysler Head of Passenger Car Brands Tim Kuniskis says it'll be less than six figures, and it includes a day at the Bob Bondurant School of High-performance Driving.

Unless you already build and race your own drag cars, you might need a little more than that to tame this monster.

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Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com's Automotive Editor. You can follow him on Twitter @garygastelu and @foxcarreport