Marcos Trevino is the epitome of a supercar owner, even if his jam is American iron instead of high-end European exotics. His 840-horsepower 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is meticulously clean, garage-kept and still with some of its original plastic on the seats, while he uses a yellow hand towel to keep fingerprints off of its fresh black paint. The difference between Trevino and other supercar owners is that he’ll likely never drive this car, or any of its more than 800 factory-rated horses. He bought it to sell on the used market, and to make a huge profit.
This black Demon is Trevino’s second of at least four, and sits in his home garage near College Station, Texas next to a 707-HP Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk that’s there to stay awhile. That was a gift for his wife, who was diagnosed with cancer while in school for a doctorate degree in nursing, but stayed in the program and at her job through the treatments. The two would be accompanied by a third purple Demon that Trevino took home from the dealer on Monday of this week, but it already sold—the same day he picked it up. He has multiple offers on this black car, but hasn’t bitten on one yet.
That means there’s a total of 1,547 HP under his roof, with more on the way, all in the name of commerce.
Some people have real-estate investments, startup stocks, Bitcoin or emu farms. Trevino has his Demons.
“I try to diversify as much as possible and not put everything to the stock market,” Trevino said. “You find those niches of something limited and popular worldwide, and cars have always seemed to fall into that. People love it.”
So does Trevino, whose love for muscle cars came as a kid, inspired by an uncle who restored cars. American muscle is Trevino’s thing, and traditional American muscle is likely on its way out.
Yet the Demon and its 840 HP roared into the New York Auto Show in April 2017, as a drag car for the streets that would only be made for the 2018 model year. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said there would only be 3,300 Demons, with 3,000 going to the U.S. and 300 to Canada. The last Demon came off the line midway through 2018, and, if FCA stands by its word, it truly was the last.
To Trevino, that whole idea rang with opportunity.
“I don’t know if there will ever be anything again that simulates what a Demon can do from a track standpoint, especially with the regulations coming down the pipeline,” Trevino said, referring to the ever-tighter fuel economy and emissions standards and push toward electrification that makes the future of internal combustion feel more and more uncertain.
But while the Demons are his biggest flip yet, this isn’t the first time Trevino has sold cars without driving them.
Trevino sold a 2001 or 2002, he can’t quite remember, manual Pontiac Trans-Am WS6 for double its window sticker of around $32,000 a year after he bought it, only driving it to take it out of the garage for routine checks and upkeep. Two bidders wanted the car so badly, Trevino finally said the first person to get him the money for the current $75,000 bid would get it.
Since then, he’s flipped two more cars in a more leisurely manner—the first-generation Cadillac CTS-V and a 420-HP 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. He kept both for a couple of years driving them sparingly, before making about $10,000 to $15,000 in profit on each.
This round of flips was completely different, but Trevino said introducing the idea of spending far more than $400,000 trying to flip supercars to his wife actually wasn’t hard. He just gave his reasoning, he said, and she was on board.
“The Demon is the one I took all of the risk on,” Trevino said. “I would never do it if she was not 100-percent on board. She was really supportive and said, ‘If you feel like this is the one that you’re going to hit the ball out of the park on, go for it.’”
With only 3,300 cars to go around, most Demon buyers were lucky to get one. But Trevino turned his search into a months-long ordeal, following the car from the day FCA announced it would go to production so he would know when order allocations opened. Once they did, the real work began.
Individual dealerships’ SRT Hellcat, Challenger and Charger sales performance determined Demon allocation, so it was a big hunt to see who had a car to sell.
“When I found dealerships that were getting allocations, I would find out if anyone had spoken for one,” Trevino said. “If they didn’t, I would put my deposit in, order so it guaranteed me the car, and then I’d go onto the next dealership.”
Trevino said he spent days doing that. He started with Dodge dealers in Texas, and after exhausting that list, began calling in nearby states.
“I probably called at least seven or eight states, trying to plan which states I could get to myself [to lower] the price of shipping,” Trevino said. “I tried to keep it relatively close versus immediately stretching out.”
Trevino “would have called all 50 states at one point,” though, because he was so determined. But he started to see a pattern over time, in that dealers would say there were no Demons left to order.
“That’s when I officially stopped,” he said.
Trevino tested the Demon ordering process and flipping potential with his first order, a black Demon he would eventually list for $175,000—almost $100,000 more than the car’s base MSRP. He said he was able to build the Demon from the ground up once he got an allocation, and that he asked FCA and dealerships if there was a limit on how many he could buy.
They didn’t care, he said.
“My first was really the test of the process and paperwork,” he said. “It was a lot of paperwork, but it was more about liability of knowing that you’re buying an 840-horsepower car and that if you go out and kill someone or kill yourself, somebody can’t come back and sue [FCA] because you’re signing off that you know what you’re buying.”
“Once I saw that on the first car, I said, ‘I’m going to try to buy as many as I can, because there’s nothing legally here saying I can’t do this,’” Trevino said.
Trevino wound up with four Demon allocations, and on waiting lists for others in case the person who ordered the car backed out. He’s already gotten another from a waiting list. He strategically ordered the first two in black and the second two in purple, deciding he’d keep the last car around for himself.
FCA told potential buyers cars with purple and B5 Blue exteriors would come at the end of production. Trevino figured purple would flip well because of that.
“It’s just patience,” Trevino said, noting that purple is big with Mopar fans. “I had other common colors to flip immediately versus the purple, which I think would be the rarest due to the fact that most people want instant gratification. They can’t wait for that color, and they have to have it now.”
Dealer upon dealer put premiums on Demons in addition to the $84,995 base MSRP, taking it from relatively reasonable on the supercar spectrum to right up near some of the new Lamborghinis of the world. Some dealerships asked near $200,000 for their Demons, and markups became so rampant, FCA announced the customers who paid the most for a Demon would be the last to receive it in attempts to curb prices.
Trevino said some dealers wouldn’t take any less than $50,000 over MSRP, but he didn’t fault them because he’s selling his at a high price, too. He wouldn’t pay that much for one to flip, though.
“Most that I discovered, $10,000 to $20,000 was the most common premium, plus taxes,” said Trevino, whose max was $20,000. “I still don’t know a dealer that sold one at window sticker. I paid a premium on every one I bought.”
But the extra cash wasn’t a big deal, because Trevino sold his first Demon two weeks after he got it.
When it comes to liability, Trevino said he tries to have the Demons handled the least amount possible. That’s why the yellow splitter guard is still on, and why he touches them with a towel.
Trevino opts out of a pre-delivery inspection, which an FCA spokesperson said includes functional checks at the dealership and a car wash that’s only allowed to be done by hand. Functional checks are done without adding car mileage, the spokesperson said, and protective coverings like the splitter guard are left on until a customer wants them removed.
“I want them dirty, just like they came off the transport trucks,” Trevino said. “The fewer people who touch the car, the better.”
Trevino said for the Demons, he’s used Autotrader, Cars.com, Dupont Registry, JamesEdition, Robb Report, eBay, “and, believe it or not, [he’s] even stuck [them] in Craigslist.” He’s actually had people from Craigslist call him, too.
“I do as much advertising as possible, in the U.S. and abroad,” Trevino said. “Whomever jumps on it first, that’s where it goes. The first one sold in the U.S., and if the second one sells in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, I’ll send it wherever the buyer would like the car shipped.”
So far, Trevino has listed his Demons from between $175,000 and $200,000 on those platforms, and a buy-it-now price of $500,000 on eBay to keep non-serious buyers away.
With all of the scam car listings out there, though, Trevino sometimes has to go through extra steps to prove to a buyer he actually owns this $200,000 car.
The man who bought Trevino’s first Demon found it on Autotrader. When he reached out, Trevino took photos and a video of the car to prove it was in his garage. Another potential buyer asked him to put his name and the date on a piece of paper and take a picture of it on the hood.
“I’m pretty sure [the eventual buyer] did his due diligence of seeing if it was legit,” Trevino said. “I gave him a VIN number, my name is tied to that.
“When he bought it, I asked him if he wanted to do a deposit. He paid the car in full, and sent a delivery service to pick it up the next day. I guess [it helped], talking [on the phone] for a while, going through verifications, and getting that trust factor established.”
Trevino also said he’s had someone reach out to him wanting to customize one of his Demons for auction, and that he’s had dealers want to buy his cars and resell them for $250,000 overseas. Jalopnik hasn’t seen the messages with these offers, but Trevino said he hasn’t agreed to either so far.
Since the number of Demons without mileage and the number of Demons in the U.S. continues to go down, Trevino said he’ll adjust his $175,000 to $200,000 range depending on the market—especially because he feels like collectors will pay a premium for ones without mileage, and because there aren’t new Demons being built. He’s even adjusted his willingness to negotiate in the past few months, but said he’s always open to talk about prices.
“Some people feel like they have to win, so if they say ‘I’ll give you $170,000’ [on a $175,000 listing], would I turn it down?” Trevino said. “Probably not. I would listen to a reasonable offer.”
Trevino said he does a bill of sale and signs the title over immediately when one does sell, and that he pays the additional $1 for the Demon Crate toolbox and drag-strip performance kit. The Demon comes with personalized accessories if a buyer wants, like vent badges for the air conditioner, a carbon-fiber ID card and an engraving on the crate.
Because Trevino’s selling the cars, he gets everything stamped with “Lucifer.” (He also pays the $1 for the other seats in addition to the driver’s seat, if you remember that marketing tool.)
Trevino doesn’t worry about repercussions from FCA, because of the lack of resale mentions in the paperwork and because he said the resale benefits “all parties.”
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” Trevino said. “FCA sells it to dealerships, dealerships mark it up and make additional money, they sell it to me as an investment, I mark it up on the secondary market and make money.”
The issue of overseas buyers doesn’t worry Trevino, either. While his first sale was in America, Trevino said about 20 percent of his buyer interest is from outside of the U.S. or Canada. A friend of his is flipping some Demons, too, and marketing primarily overseas.
So far, nothing has gone wrong.
“The first one [my friend] sold was to a guy in China,” said Trevino, who added that shipping was about $7,000. “The guy paid the transportation and import taxes, and there were no restrictions that he ran into.”
Paying transportation and other fees is the understanding Trevino has with buyers, whether international or in America. It’s also on the buyer to figure out the logistics of importing the car if necessary, he said.
“Usually, people who buy these kinds of cars from America because they can’t buy them in their country, they have either done this multiple times and know the process, or they are getting a broker involved, and the brokers know the rules,” Trevino said. “[With] those two avenues, I feel completely comfortable, because everybody knows the rules and regulations of what they’ve got to pay to bring it into their country.”
Trevino has gotten some pushback from people who see that he’s bought the cars and marked them up, but he said buyers—whether in the U.S. or not—don’t care. It’s about supply and demand, he said, and “there will always be wealthy individuals who will pay for it.”
“It’s been done many decades before the Demon,” Trevino said. “They do the same thing at auctions, [with] old muscle cars from the ‘60s and ‘70s that were extremely cheap in their time and are selling for several hundreds of thousands of dollars—if not in the million-dollar range.”
Plus, Trevino said, everybody had the same opportunity as he did.
“They could have gone out there, spent the time, found the dealerships, put a deposit in to buy the car at window sticker—if they were lucky,” Trevino said.
“There are plenty of wealthy individuals who, paying a premium of double MSRP or even higher, they don’t mind paying it. People have some crazy money, and they want that car badly enough in their collection that they will stroke a check for that dollar amount, whatever that amount may be—if it’s a $200,000 Demon, or a $500,000 Demon, or even a $1-million Demon.”