The world’s quickest Dodge Demon is not in fact a Demon, a Challenger, or even a product of the Dodge brand at all, and that fact has many of the Mopar faithful, perhaps the most loyal bunch in the car-world, plenty up in arms. Heck, even the Ford guys are salty.
But Florida native Matthew Kesatie has no shame in his Hemi-powered Ford Mustang, and in fact, has offered glowing reviews of the engine platform that precisely mirrors that of the 6.2L, 840-horsepower mill found in the factory-produced Demon.
Downtrodden with a series of issues with Ford’s 5.0L rival to the Hemi, Kesatie saw an opportunity and acted upon it to construct a one-off piece he believed could be highly competitive in modern Hemi drag racing circles. The result has been record-breaking, eye-opening, and plenty controversial.
“I used to have a shop and this was the shop car. I put nine supercharged Coyote engines in that car, and broke every one of them. If it could be broken, I broke it…crank sprockets, timing chains, valve springs, cam phasers, crank snouts, I broke it all. But part of it was we were running a supercharger, which is hard on the Coyote. After the ninth engine, I was going to part it out and just call it done,” Matthew tells.
Kesatie later went to work as a tuner for Gearhead Performance, which sees an unusually high share of Dodge performance vehicles come and go through its doors. The shop was already involved with the Modern Street Hemi Shootout Series, and Kesatie’s attention soon became affixed to the series’ Outlaw class. His Coyote engines were already running equivalent E.T.’s to those in the Hemi series, and if he could match it with a Hemi, he’d instantly be competitive. The only question was whether the series organizers would allow a Ford vehicle with a Dodge engine into the fold. The answer was a resounding, “absolutely…it only must be Gen III Hemi-powered.”
Kesatie sat down with Gearhead owner Mario Abascal and said, “why don’t we put a Hemi in this thing, because it will just piss off everybody.” The two started sourcing parts from the bin there at the shop, called in some favors from folks like Andy at East Coast Mopar Parts and others, and assembled a potent engine and twin-turbo package to shoehorn into the 2012 Mustang.
Kesatie utilized a factory “BGE” Demon cast-iron block — unsleeved and with stock main caps and all — and outfitted it with a factory Demon crankshaft, custom CP pistons, Gearheads’ head stud upgrade, Thitek raised-port aluminum cylinder heads with inconel valves, dual springs, stock rocker arms, an upgraded rocker arm girdle, and a custom-spec’ed camshaft. A Plazmaman billet aluminum intake manifold and ID.2000 injectors deliver the air and One R (ethanol) fuel in concert with BoostLab billet-wheel, air-to-air intercooled 7675 turbos. Kesatie relies on a Holley Dominator EFI/ECU system and Holley digital dash to manage the combination.
“The only thing holding that engine back is that it doesn’t have a good set of rods in it,” Kesatie says, adding he has maxed it at out 25 psi to this point. On 21 psi, Kesatie nearly won Street Car Takeover in Bradenton, Florida in February, running a series of sevens, including a staggering best of 7.671 and 169.23 MPH, despite running out of gear and coasting from around the 1,000-foot mark on. That race was his very first, and to date only, 1/4-mile outing with the car.
Behind the Hemi is an FTI Pro Series Level 5 Powerglide with an ATI case with a billet bolt-together torque converter. The Mustang has “every BMR part that’a made for it,” a result of close friendship Kesatie had with an employee at the likewise Florida-based suspension manufacturer. He has also utilized custom spec’ed Viking Crusader shocks all the way around. The 8.8 housing sports a Strange 35-spline spool and axles and C-clip Eliminators. A Team Z Motorsports brace kit stiffens the housing up to take the abuse. Last season, Matthew had a 3.73 gear in the car, which severely limited its potential in the 1/4-mile (it was intended for 1/8-mile competition, but he attended the SCT event in large part to draw eyeballs to the project via 1320Video). He has since re-geared it to a 3.55 gear to try getting a little bit closer to a full 1/4-mile run.
Kesatie instantly attracted attention at the events he competed at last season, including Holley’s Moparty in Kentucky.
“This whole thing has been fun, because it’s very polarized. The people that walk by the car and talk to me in-person, absolutely love it. I had dozens and dozens of people come by at Moparty that loved it, were taking pictures, joking about telling their Mustang buddies about it. Nobody really had anything negative to say about it in person. But if you go online and read the comments on the video, it’s one of the most commented-on videos 1320 has ever had. It’s people just arguing it out. Online is always different…it’s people saying, ‘that’s a pile of sh-t,’ ‘I hope it burns,’ all of that. The Demon guys had the biggest issue with it, but that was partly because I was trolling them, calling it the world’s fastest Demon, and they got really huffy about that. I tried to join the ‘League of Demons’ owners group and they wouldn’t let me. I’ve been having a lot of fun with it.
He adds, “People either love it, or they hate it, and there seems to be no in between. Some just say, ‘thank God it’s not another LS swap,’ and some of the Dodge guys are just glad to see their engine in something that’s going fast and not in something that weighs 6,000-lbs. The Ford guys conversely are pretty angry that I pulled their sacred Coyote out of it, and think it was a stupid move.”
Adding to what is already one of the most unique cars in the country, the 2012 GT is a factory Lava Red car — the paint, which will appear as pure black in all but just the right light, was a paint option created in a factory in Japan that was struck by a tsunami during the production run. Ford was forced to discontinue the color after producing just a few hundred coupes, including what’s thought to be 300-500 GT’s. Nowadays, the color has a small cult following all its own. So subtle is the pearl red tone that Kesatie says he owned the car for two years before his wife realized it was not black.
At 3,325-lbs car/driver, the Mustang has been a 4.90 the 1/8-mile and will go quicker with some new strut updates that should allow him to leave with more power. He’s hoping to dip into the 4.80s at this weekend’s Street Hemi Shootout season opener. With a connecting rod upgrade down the road, he knows he’ll then be able to “give it everything it’s got.”
The next quickest Demon-powered-anything, to Kesatie’s knowledge, has been an 8.19 — a far cry from the mid-sevens he’s clocking with relative ease, making his Ford the quickest Demon in the world by a country mile.
Noting he never got more than a few runs out of his supercharged Coyote’s, Kesatie confirms he’s been flogging the turbo’ed Hemi for a whole year and has done nothing more than change the oil in it. “It’s done everything I’ve asked it to do and then some,” he comments.
“I wanted to be different,” he closes. “I was over the Coyote thing, and the last thing I was going to do was build another one. So I figured why not put something together to see what the general public thinks, and it worked out. And it honestly went faster than I though it was going to go. And we’re still continuing to improve upon it.”