In this fourth (in a series of 10) Demon Confidential blog, let’s take a look at one of the Demon’s most unique visual aspects, the four-corner fender extension flares. They’re present because of Demon’s massive P315/40R18 Nitto NT05R drag radial tires. Nearly 2 inches wider than the Hellcat’s P275/40R20 Pirelli P Zero Nero, these ultra-grippy tires represent the first ever installation of D.O.T. approved drag radials on a mass-produced new car right from the factory.*
But if the Challenger SRT® Demon is a rear-wheel-drive car, why does it have these sticky Nitto slicks on the front and the back? For the answer, we go to Demon Development Engineer Jim Wilder: “To give Demon the best drag strip capability, we simply followed the path taken by door slammer drag racers since the days of the 1962 Dodge 413 Max Wedge; slicks and skinnies. The slicks stick the power to the track and the skinny front tires reduce rolling resistance and weight.”
But as a street-legal, road-going new car, the minimized front tire contact patch presented a challenge for Demon’s designers. With only a fraction of the grip offered by the sticky rear tires, certain handling and braking characteristics were skewed. To avoid customer confusion, the decision was made to deliver the car to customers with the massive Nittos all the way around, and then let the customer source the skinny front runner tires for drag strip use. Wilder adds; “We do include a pair of bare 18×4.5-inch rims but leave it to the customer to select and mount the race-mode front tires. On our many Demon test cars, we went with 4.50/28.0-18 front tires as supplied by M&H Race Master.”
Okay, that’s great, the Demon customer gets two sets of slicks, what a value! Jim Wilder picks it up here: “With the wider tires and wheels in place, a significant amount of tire tread protrudes beyond the fender lip. Federal and state motor vehicle laws require tread coverage, so something had to be done. And from an aesthetic standpoint, it looked a bit raw with the tires sticking out past the fender lips. We considered extending the bodywork outward but it was cost prohibitive. In the end, Demon’s bolt-on flares were the answer.”
With the big Nittos mounted all around, the fender extensions add a hunkered down, ready-to-pounce vibe that is best appreciated in person. And with the front runners installed, owners of Brand X machinery know they’d better run and hide. Wilder says: “When we decided to go with the flares, we studied the industry and best practices. We mounted them with a zillion fasteners so they’re really integrated into the bodywork. But we hid every fastener, there are no exposed rivets or screws as is sometimes the fashion on 4×4 pickups. We sought to make the flares fit the lines of the body with the tightest possible gaps.”
And if you like the look, the Demon’s flares have just been shared with the new Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody. In that application, the flares help cover the extra 3.5 inches of track width that came with the Widebody’s up-sized P305/35ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero tires. Again, the tires triggered the fender extensions – and performance improvements (the Widebody’s bigger skins help it run 10.90s in the quarter mile, 3/10 of a second quicker than a base Hellcat!)
Stay tuned to Demon Confidential for more behind-the-scenes info on the Dodge brand’s most outrageous muscle car yet!
* Excludes non-mass production vehicles (i.e., low volume and ‘coach builders’) and hybrids.