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Dodge Demon

Published: 27th Apr 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Chrysler liked to use cartoon characters on many of its models Chrysler liked to use cartoon characters on many of its models
but the Demon theme didn’t go down too well with some religious circles in the USA and were dropped by 1972! but the Demon theme didn’t go down too well with some religious circles in the USA and were dropped by 1972!
Comfortable interior is as good as a Mustang and features sporty bucket seats with wooden inserts on the dashboard Comfortable interior is as good as a Mustang and features sporty bucket seats with wooden inserts on the dashboard
Colourful and detailed engine bay with Chrysler’s lusty 340ci V8 engine rated at 275bhp for 1971 was the pick of the pack. Colourful and detailed engine bay with Chrysler’s lusty 340ci V8 engine rated at 275bhp for 1971 was the pick of the pack.
Neat ‘don’t mess with me’ frontal aspect with prominent dummy hood scoops Neat ‘don’t mess with me’ frontal aspect with prominent dummy hood scoops
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What is a Dodge Demon?

A Dart model from the Pentastar stable of the A-bodied series compact cars that were all very similar and based upon Plymouth’s Valiant Duster. The stylish A-bodied two-door fastback coupes were built in exactly the same way as their larger muscle car cousins like the Dodge Charger, Plymouth Road Runner etc, featuring ostensibly the same running gear, and if fitted with the V8 engine option were just as quick, but being smaller were that much easier to drive. Often over looked compared with all the other very collectible models that formed the legendary Mopar muscle line-up, the Demon, Duster and Dart compacts are still very affordable, and their status is steadily increasing.

History

Introduced in 1971 the Dodge Demon was a sporty looking coupe that shared the same 108-inch wheelbase as Plymouth’s Duster, and cost $2720. Engines options for this range of models was the base straight-six, 318ci V8 and the Demon got Chrysler’s excellent and powerful 340ci V8, rated in 1971 at a healthy 275bhp @ 5000rpm plus a massive 340lbft of torque at just 3200rpm. Transmissions were the standard three speed floor shift, with options of four-speed manual or threespeed 727 TorqueFlite automatic which was used in numerous other performance cars. Running gear comprised of torsion bar front suspension, disc brakes at the front, drums to the rear, with a live axle and cart springs. Available in some pretty garish colours such as Lemon Twist, Vitamin C, and Plum Crazy to name but a few, Chrysler also liked to use cartoon character decals on many models, and the Demon received Devil decals. The name Demon complete with reference to the Devil didn’t go down too well in all circles, especially with some of America’s religious fraternity, thus after 1972 the name got dropped and theDemon then became known as the Dart Sport to keep everyone happy.

One high profile American car dealership, Mr Norm of Grand Spaulding Dodge, seized upon an excellent marketing opportunity with Mr Norm dressing up in a Demon outfit for publicity purposes and adopted the catch phrase “The Devil made me do it!” In 1971 it was selling fully dyno-tuned Six- Pack carb fed Demons and a year later offered a wicked Paxton supercharged engine option. The 340ci V8 Demon sported tapering body side stripes, a matt black hood with dummy air scoops and Rallye style steel wheels with bigger tyres. Production of the Demon 340 was relatively small with 10,098 produced in 1971 and 8750 for 1972. For 1973 the Dart Sport got a minor facelift with a latticework grille and central bonnet bulge, and the last of the breed featured a more emissions friendly 360ci V8 before it’s replacement the Aspen arrived in 1976. Over at Plymouth there was the Duster 340 which was virtually identical to the Demon, but produced in larger numbers with the 340ci engine detuned from 275bhp to 240bhp for 1972-1973.

The Duster came in all sorts of varieties that included the Twister, with black body stripes, matt black hood and Rallye wheels just like the Demon. Then there was the Gold Duster with a pebble grain vinyl roof, the Space Duster with a fold down rear seat, a Silver Duster finished in silver, red and black and there was even a Feather Duster! This was an economy version with a straight-six engine and featured much use of aluminium for the manifold, gearbox casing and some inner panels.

Driving

With the heavy duty rear springs and dampers as standard the Demon’s handling is reasonablytaut and nimble compared to its much larger Dodge Charger/ Plymouth Road Runner cousins. An original Demon straight out of the showroom was good for a shade over 14.2 seconds on the quarter mile drag strip, though it was being driven by famous racer Ronnie Sox at the time! However, that’s still mighty impressive and with 275 ponies available under your right foot, excellent performance is guaranteed. Brakes have never been many a Mopar’s strong point, even with discs on the front, and the rear drums can suffer from fade. Steering can also be a tad ponderous, though nowadays many decide to go for an aftermarket ‘Firm Feel Kit’ which is well worth fitting for a tauter drive.

Prices

Demons have started to rise in value, but you can still pick up a reasonable example for under £5000 though it will be in need some restorative work. Expect to pay £8000 - £9000 for a car in good condition and £10,000 - £15,000 for a concours example. There aren’t too many Demon/Duster/Darts in the UK, but they do come up for sale from time to time in the classified sections of American car magazines.

What To Look For

  • Unfortunately rust can be a problem on the Demon and some replacement panels can be difficult to source, such as complete front wings (fenders) that are not available new , but can be found second-hand or there are glass fibre reproductions. Repair panels are available for some of the more usual rust areas.
  • The usual rust hot spots will be the rear three quarter panels and boot floor. When the rear screen rubbers perish in time, this leads to water ingress into the boot and eventually it can rot through.
  • The bonnet is a fairly heavy panel, so have a look around the bases of the hinges for signs of wear and tear and indeed rot on the inner wing area where the hinges attach. Replacement GFRP bonnets are available and lighten the front end weight as a bonus.
  • The front bulkhead around the heater plenum is another potential problem area for the dreaded tin worm, as are the bottoms of the A posts. Check the front ‘K’ frame where the suspension components all bolt onto. The big chassis rails shouldn’t give cause for concern, but it’s worth making sure they are solid. The rear chassis rails may have suffered over time under the boot floor and could have been plated before around the rear spring hangers
  • .
  • The bottoms of the front wings behind the wheel arches is another rust prone area, though patch repair panels are available While new seat covers and carpet sets for the interior are available, ensure that the dashboard and centre console are in excellent condition, as these can be difficult to replace. Although dashboards can be restored by specialists such as CV Vacuum Platers in British Columbia, Canada, do you really want the hassle and expense of removal and shipping it abroad?
  • The Demon is fitted with fairly hefty bumpers and should they need to be re-chromed, good quality work won’t come cheap.
  • Fortunately running gear replacement on the Demon isn’t an issue and the V8 engine is suitable for further tuning enhancement if required. Generally speaking Mopar engines, gearboxes and back axles are reasonably bullet proof, enjoying excellent longevity and tired suspension components can easily be replaced.
  • There are now a number of companies in the USA that can supply a good number of replacement parts for the Demon/Dart/Duster compact model range, and becoming a member of the Mopar Muscle Association here in the UK offers many benefits.

Verdict

Nowadays the Demon/Dart/Duster cars are the cheapest entry level into Mopar ownership with the Demon 340 having the edge when it comes to desirability and rarity as so few were built, and if you can find a car with matching numbers original engine/gearbox/axle so much the better. They may not have quite the same kudos as the Dodge Charger or Plymouth ‘Cuda (or even a Mustang), but they are eminently more affordable and still a very powerful ‘junior’ musclecar that shouldn’t be overlooked. An interesting alternative to a Mustang and indeed much rarer, too. Now maybe the right time to purchase before they become too expensive?



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