Over at Ferrari there’s a long history of “monoposto” vehicle construction. Translated from the Italian language, the term identifies a single-seat race car and was first used in 1931 to designate a new classification for single-seat racers. Previously, many European race-sanctioning bodies required two seats, one for the driver and one for a riding mechanic. Really!
The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT® Demon takes all of this a step further, being the first mass-produced American muscle car to come standard with a single bucket seat for the driver. Demon Development Engineer Jim Wilder says: “From the very beginning, we planned to delete the back seat, just like Dodge did with the 1964, ’65 and ’68 426 Race HEMI® package cars. This eliminated 55 pounds.”
Indeed, going back to those legendary Factory Experimental and Super Stock Race HEMI engines of the sixties, Dodge replaced the back seat with a simple formed cover and lightweight carpet to give the rear area a finished appearance – as required by the NHRA. Going further, the standard front bench or articulated bucket seats gave way to lighter buckets borrowed from the Dodge A100 compact van line. The work shaved about 60 pounds per car.
But for the exciting new Demon, Wilder’s bunch went even further. He tells us: “During development we had meetings with Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis every two weeks. He kept pushing us to make Demon ever more potent and capable; it was ‘What else can we do, what else can we do?’ So one day I just threw it on the table and said, ‘Tim, what about doing it as a single seater, that’d chop 54 pounds!’ He looked at me, smiled and said ‘Let’s do it!'”
Keep in mind, drag strips prohibit carrying passengers in cars running quicker than 14.99 seconds, so for all intents and purposes, any seat other than the driver’s is unwanted extra mass. And when you consider that for every 100 pounds eliminated from a vehicle, the quarter mile mark is reached about 1/10 of a second sooner. So tossing the passenger seats removed a total of 109 pounds, which is also approximately a full car length advantage at the 1,320-foot marker.
Of course, not every Demon buyer will be totally dedicated to drag strip prowess. Wilder says: “Will most customers take both front seats? I think so. For them, the passenger-side front bucket can be had for one extra dollar.” You read that correctly, the second seat costs a dollar. And for those who want to take full advantage of Challenger’s five-person seating capacity (the only member of the modern pony car set capable of riding five in comfort*, by the way), the back seat can also be had. Yes, it also costs one dollar extra.
So unlike the austere HEMI engine Coronets and HEMI V8 Darts of the sixties, Demon buyers will ride in comfort. Remember, air conditioning is standard. It’s part of the performance-enhancing SRT Power Chiller. Read all about it in Demon Confidential Number TWO.
That’s the story of Demon’s headline-grabbing base single seating arrangement. Stay tuned right here for more Demon Confidential as we explore the Dodge brand’s wildest street machine ever!
* Based on the latest available competitive information and Wards Middle Specialty Vehicle Segment.