The news came in a letter from the National Hot Rod Association. A prototype of the new Dodge Demon had set an all-time dragstrip record, hitting 140 at the end of the quarter mile in just 9.65 seconds. Oh, and the NHRA added, it was banning the new muscle car from production before the first model officially rolled off the production line.
"That was the highlight of my 25 years in the business," said Tim Kuniskis, the head of passenger cars for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in North America, as a crowd of journalists and muscle car fans descended on the stage after the formal debut of the new Dodge Demon in New York Tuesday night.
After a two-month teaser campaign that drew millions of views on social media, there was a palpable tension at Pier 94, along the Hudson River waterfront where the Challenger-based Demon made its debut.
And, as the lights dimmed, fireworks popped and the ungodly coupe burst out of its "cage," the crowd wasn't disappointed, the Demon launching into a smoky burnout that photographers struggled to follow.
The World's Most Powerful V-8 Can Even Pop a Wheelie
The numbers are, quite simply, astounding. The supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 will make anywhere from 808 to 840 horsepower, and 717 to 808 pound-feet of torque, depending on which package a customer orders.
That's enough to launch the Demon from 0 to 60 in a mere 2.3 seconds, making it not only the most powerful V-8 ever to roll out of a factory but also the fastest production car in the world. Period.
Foot flat to the floor a driver will experience 1.3 Gs of force throwing them back into the car's sport seat — and in the fastest version there will be only one seat, for the driver, though as this four-wheeled beast is street legal, buyers can opt for a passenger seat and even a backseat if they want to haul around family and friends in high-speed splendor.
Indeed, one of the most impressive things about the Demon is the fact that it is entirely street legal. It meets federal emissions standards and has a real factory warranty.
"We wanted to be the best at the most," said Kuniskis, noting that the Demon has even been certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the only production car capable of performing a wheelie.
The Demon starts out with the same Challenger coupe as the already impressive Dodge Challenger Hellcat that seemed hard to imagine when, two years ago, it screeched onto the scene making 707 hp. Dodge officials quietly hinted there was room to squeeze even more power out of that engine. But getting there and keeping it legal — and reliable — turned out to be more of a challenge than they might have first expected.
"This is a whole new engine," explained Kuniskis. Well, not entirely so, but close enough.
The supercharger is bigger, there's a new Chill Air system that actually hijacks the standard air conditioning system to cool intake air by as much as 45 degrees on a hot day, cooler, denser air translating into significantly better performance.
Virtually every element of the Demon has been hardened, from the crankshaft and pistons to the driveline and axles. There's some sophisticated electronics controlling the entire system to make sure as much power reaches the pavement as possible. Smoky tires make great photos but they lose races.
Speaking of tires, those black donuts often don't get the respect they deserve, but they may be the real key to ensuring the 4,200-pound Demon delivers on the promise of that massive drivetrain. They're as big as anything put on a production car, the wheels measuring 18 by 11 inches and the tires a sticky 315/40R15 Nitto design, the first-ever street-legal cheaters — just short of full track slicks.
Pretty Affordable Price Tag
As if it didn't have enough on its engineering plate, Dodge even had to make sure buyers would be able to insure the new Demon, lining up exotic and classic car specialist Hagerty Insurance as the official backer.
While Dodge officials won't discuss the cost of the project, they admit it wasn't cheap. They also revealed that they ran the project as a skunkworks program, hoping corporate beancounters wouldn't kill it.
They're not going to make the development costs back on sales. According to Kuniskis, the target is just a limited run of 3,300 of these ultimate muscle cars, 300 for Canada and the rest targeted for American buyers.
Pricing hasn't been determined, though the "intention" is to keep the figure below $100,000." By comparison, exotic cars making anywhere near the Demon's performance numbers can surge into the multi-million dollar range.
"It's not about selling lots of cars," said Kuniski. "It's about getting every Dodge owner and possible customer to look at this and want to be part of the Dodge brand."
That shouldn't be difficult considering the attention the new Dodge Demon is already getting.