Dodge has been on something of a farewell tour for its Hemi V8 muscle cars. It has built a series of “last call” versions of the Charger and Challenger, limited editions with callback paint colors and retro liveries that refer to muscle-packed Dodges of old. Now it really is getting ready to end the car design and is doing so with a bang, via the 2023 Challenger SRT Demon 170, a production car so fast it can even show a Tesla Model S Plaid a clean pair of shoes with a 1.66 second 0-60 mph time.
Dodge’s engineers have performed quite a bit of work under that bulging “Air-Grabber” hood compared to lesser Demons. There’s a new supercharger with a larger throttle body and a pulley that increases boost pressure by 40 percent compared to the Challenger Hellcat Redeye Widebody.
You’ll get the best results by feeding it E85 (a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline); on this fuel, the Demon 170 generates an enormous 1,025 hp (764 kW) and 945 lb-ft (1,281 Nm). On the more common E10 fuel, the engine will generate a slightly milder 900 hp (671 kW) and 810 lb-ft (1,098 Nm).
The driveline has been beefed up with a much stronger rear differential, prop shaft, and half shafts to cope with the torque, and the car wears special street-legal drag tires. It can even divert cold air from the air conditioning system to cool the supercharger intercooler, since cold, dense air contains more oxygen than hot air.
Performance at the drag strip is also helped by tuned adaptive dampers that help with weight transfer, and there’s something called TransBrake 2.0 that Dodge says “includes torque-shaping capability, a technology used in competitive drag racing with easier driver interaction to dial-in preset torque limits.”
These modifications make the Demon 170 seriously quick at the drag strip. Dodge has had the National Hot Rod Association certify the car’s quarter-mile time at 8.91 seconds elapsed time with a speed across the line of 151.17 mph (243 km/h), making it faster than even a Model S Plaid, which can slip just below two seconds at the drag strip. Dodge also got an National Hot Rod Association violation letter for running a sub-9 second quarter-mile time without either a rollcage or parachute.
“To celebrate the end of the HEMI muscle-car era, we pulled off all the governors to reach a new level, a new benchmark of ‘factory-crazy’ production car performance,” said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge’s CEO. “In 2015, Dodge shocked the world with the 707-hp Hellcat. Then, in 2018, we did it with the 840-hp Demon, and now we are doing it again with the 1,025-hp Demon 170, the world’s first sustainable-energy, eight-second, factory-production, street-legal muscle car.”
Dodge will build 3,300 Demon 170s, 3,000 for the US and 300 for Canada. In the US, the cars start at $96,666, and buyers have to sign a waiver acknowledging the fact that they just bought a street-legal drag-racing car.
Check back tomorrow for a first drive of a new Dodge that’s both a lot cheaper and a lot more efficient to drive.