To make use of an overused term, we all have our own ‘trigger’ when it comes to current auto news. Different headlines catch different eyes and developing stories keep our attention with varying levels of success.
If you want my attention, you’re probably going to catch it with Fiat-Chrysler’s continual reinvigoration of classic Dodge muscle cars. I know it won’t last forever, but it feels like we’re in a true Second Coming for classic Mopar. But if it all falls apart with the upcoming release of the Challenger SRT Demon, I am fairly certain that I can die a happy man.
Sure, they’re only going to make 3000 of them. Sure, the expected base price is $85,000. Sure, I have absolutely no means of scoring one at this time. But this is America damn it, and we have the right to dream. Fact is, when it comes to Dodge muscle cars, I’m pretty sure I’ve been dreaming for the better part of twenty-five years.
Where It Began…
In the early 90’s, when I was in my early teens, my uncle had a 1971 Dodge Demon 340 in ‘Racing Yellow’ with its 340ci V-8 rated for 275 hp and 340 lb-ft of torque. In my short life, it had been the first car that I fell in love with and would serve to define most of my vehicle preferences to this day.
(As I did) my uncle loved that car, loved to fish, and loved beer. On evening we were casting offshore and, with a nearly empty cooler of Budweiser cans between us, he alluded to some willingness to sell me the car when I got my license. In hindsight, it was almost certainly the beer talking, but to a teenage boy it was the greatest thing I’d ever heard. So, you can imagine my disappointment when he sold the Demon a year before I got my license.
Flash forward a few years, and (then Daimler) Chrysler would announce their plans to resurrect the Dodge Charger. The original 1999 R/T concept car was spec’d to house a 289ci 4.7-liter V8 mated to a five-speed manual transmission and rated for 325 hp. Just shy of my 22nd birthday, I began to save.
In The Meantime…
I was living with my buddy, who decided to pick up a couple of Plymouth Dusters. The ’72 was street-legal, while the ’71 was set up for racing. While both had the same 340ci V8 that’d I’d fallen in love with, the power rating of the ’72 had been dropped to 275 hp. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved to drive it – but I always wanted to drive the ’71 on the track.
For my roommate (who would eventually marry into a family of racers) it became a way of life. For me, it just served to fuel my intention to score myself a Charger, once it moved from concept car to release.
The re-released Charger would face a few delays. Once the fourth-generation Charger was released, I had an infant daughter. The Charger fund had gone towards diapers, and it didn’t make much sense at the time.
Three years later, I would end up buying a 2007 (settling for the more affordable, albeit ballsy V6) followed by a 2011 with the same powertrain, after I managed to flip the first one. There was, of course, a part of me that would always be planning to put away for a Hemi, and the Challengers were looking better and better (even before the Hellcat was released).
Needless to Say…
I could have sh*t a brick when Fiat-Chrysler announced a racing-inspired 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. With a 2.7-liter Supercharger under the hood, it will be able to summon up to 840 hp and 770 lb-ft of torque off-the-line.
Even without race configuring, the Demon is rated for 808 hp, a staggering increase over the already badass Hellcat. That. Is. Insane. We’re talking a 2.5-second sprint from 0-60 mph and full-on wheelie capabilities.
I don’t believe I’ve ever wanted to drive a vehicle this much, in my. life.
In Other Words
Oh wait. You want to race it? To quote K.C. Colwell of Car and Driver (who was able to break down the Demon’s launch control about as succinctly as one could ever hope to)
First, ‘engage line lock, which locks the front brakes, to warm up the Nittos in the burnout box before approaching staging. Roll to the starting line and activate launch control, at which point a number of things are happening. First, the Demon has, essentially, air conditioning for its intake air. It super chills the intercooler’s coolant by as much as 45 degrees versus ambient conditions to help pack as many oxygen molecules into the intake charge as possible. Next, the transmission engages its own brake. A trans brake locks the transmission in both first and reverse fears simultaneously. This removes any chance the car will move off the line when hitting the throttle to reach launch rpm. Finally, the Demon’s two-stage ignition kicks in. Here, the engine cuts spark and fuel to half the cylinders but keeps all valves operating. This allows the 2.7-liter supercharger (up from 2.4 in the standard Hellcat) to keep its bypass valve closed and generate maximum boost (because a belt-driven supercharger’s boost is directly tied to engine rpm), without generating maximum power. Now the torque converter, an upgraded unit with a higher stall speed and 2:1 torque multiplication keeps all the launch torque from eating the transmission’s innards. Flick either shift paddle and the Demon launches.’
(In my four decades on this planet, I’ve heard a lot of things that I consider to be ‘pretty damn sexy’ but that entire paragraph almost manages to take the cake. Well done, K.C.)
Long Story Short
You gotta have goals…