Rediscovered 1971 Dodge Demon 340 Sheds Light on a Captivating Small Wonder Under the Hood

The Dodge Demon typically brings to mind the formidable 2017 Challenger SRT, a drag-racing beast with a supercharged V8 churning out 840 horsepower on 100-octane fuel. This muscle car, capable of completing a quarter-mile in under 10 seconds, is undeniably memorable. However, it's not the sole Dodge to bear the "Demon" moniker.

In 2007, the name also graced a concept car unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show. This two-door roadster, equipped with a 172-horsepower four-cylinder engine, envisioned a sports car that would slot below the Viper and rival the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Unfortunately, this project never made it to production. But today, we focus on yet another Demon: the one from the early 1970s.

Debuting in 1971 as part of the Dodge Dart lineup, the first-ever Demon diverged from the modern Challenger Demon in that it wasn't designed as a high-performance model. Instead, it was Dodge's take on the popular Plymouth Duster.

Initially dubbed the "Dart Beaver," Dodge rebranded it the Demon when the marketing department discovered that "beaver" had an unsavory connotation in Citizens Band (CB) radio slang.

Eventually, Dodge introduced a higher-performance Demon variant, which replaced the 1970 Swinger 340. Equipped with a 340-cubic-inch (5.6-liter) LA-block V8 producing 275 horsepower, this model boasted optional hood scoops and a blacked-out hood for a sportier look. The Demon enjoyed production through 1972, ultimately giving way to the Dart Sport in 1973.

Though not as renowned as the Plymouth Duster, the Demon managed to sell over 100,000 units in just two years. Among these, a mere 21,000 buyers opted for the pricier Demon 340 package.

While not exceedingly rare compared to other Mopar muscle cars from the golden era, highly-optioned examples are now few and far between. This 1971 Butterscotch Demon is one such treasure.

Sporting both the black hood and scoops, it was also equipped with the A31 performance axle package featuring 3:91 gears. Additionally, it boasts a highly sought-after cloth bench interior. Combined, these features make this 1971 Demon a rare gem—likely one of fewer than 50 made in this color.

The numbers-matching 340 V8 retains most of its original components, but there's a delightful surprise hidden under the hood. It's not a performance upgrade; instead, it's the signature of drag racing legend Don "Big Daddy" Garlits.

A pioneer of the rear-engined Top Fuel dragster, Garlits was the first driver to officially surpass the 170, 200, 250, and 270 mph marks on the quarter-mile, with these records achieved in his innovative "Swamp Rat" dragsters. Garlits also set significant milestones in battery-powered dragsters.

In 2014, at the age of 82, he raced at 184 mph (296 kph) in a 2,000-horsepower EV, later breaking his own record in 2019 with a 189 mph (304 kph) run. By 2004, Garlits had been inducted into every notable automotive and drag racing hall of fame, making his signature on any classic muscle car a true badge of honor.

Enjoy a glimpse of this remarkable Demon in the video below, captured just after it emerged from winter storage.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post