Did you know that the controversial Dodge Demon name goes back 50 years? In 1970, the restyled Plymouth Valiant, named the Duster, was a massive success. Dodge immediately insisted on getting its own version. That car became the 1971 Dodge Demon.
1970 Plymouth Duster 340
Both the A-body Plymouth Duster and Dodge Demon were fantastic cars for the money (starting just over $2,100). The two cars were virtually identical, underneath. The attractive-looking Demon came with four optional engines (198- 125 hp./180 lb./ft.; 225- 145 hp./215 lb./ft.; 318- 230 hp./320 lb./ft.; and 340- 275 hp./340 lb./ft.). It had racing mirrors, 14 inch tires, racing stripes, “Tuff” steering wheel, plaid bench seats, flat-black hood treatment, Rallye wheels, Demon decals, and a body-colored grille (if the body was painted in high-impact Hemi Orange, Plum Crazy, or Citron Yellow).
1971 Dodge Demon
The “Demon Sizzler” was a late-1971 appearance option package, which included side and hood stripes, special wheels and mirrors, a different steering wheel and other trim changes.
1971 Demon Sizzler
Another late launch was the high-performance Demon 340. It came with an optional blackout hood with twin air scoops and hood pins. It replaced the Swinger 340, Dart's performance model. This model had a beefed up suspension, wider wheels and tires and a floor-mounted shifter. The three-speed manual was standard, with a three-speed automatic and four-speed manual optional. The engine design was guided by Tom Hoover, later known as “father of the Hemi.” It had a 10.5:1 compression, large 2.02 intake and 1.60 exhaust valves, high-flow heads, big ports and a 750 cfm Carter Thermo-Quad carburetor. This street fighter was one of the best engines of the 1960s and 1970s for performance enthusiasts. The engine was an excellent combination of high power and relatively light weight. This 3,300 lb. screamer, like its Duster cousin, became known as the “giant killer” at the drag strip. It was so successful that the NHRA factored its gross power up to 325 hp. (Note- Dodge’s conservative 275 hp. dyno reading was taken at 5,000 rpm instead of its 6,000 rpm peak).
Road Test reviewed the 340 Dodge Demon automatic in April 1971. They got 0-60 mph. in 7.8 seconds and a 14.6 second quarter mile at 96 mph. Estimated top speed was 127 and fuel economy about 15-16 mpg. They rated the cornering, finish, luggage space, performance and steering to be excellent.
1971 Demon 340
1971 Demon 340
1971 Demon 340
Demon sales only hit 40% of Duster sales, but that was still enough to be quite a success, given that the Duster was a runaway hit. Comparing its looks to the older Dodge two-door, the Swinger, its popularity was no surprise. Nearly 80,000 were made in 1971- around 10,100 of which were 340-powered. Most buyers opted for the slant six (either the base 198 or optional 225); second choice was the 318 V8.
The 1972 Demon was similar to the 1971, but the big performance change was that the 340 engine was now rated at 240 hp., based on 8.5:1 compression. Sales in this second and final year were only around 48,000, with fewer than 9,000 340s produced.
Specific exterior and interior changes for 1972 included a revised grille without the central divider of the 1970 and 1971 items, new surface-mounted side marker lights, rather than the previous flush-mounted units, a new instrument cluster featuring a large, rectangular speedometer and several, small, round gauges; the AM/FM-radio option returned. The Demon had new fender-mounted metal "Demon" badges without the small devil character on the 1971 decals. The "Demon" decal on the rear of the car was replaced by Dodge and Dart emblems on the lower right edge of the deck lid. A new, optional, single, hood scoop replaced 1971's dual scoops, and was coupled with a hood-paint blackout that had been standard on the 1971 high-trim/high-value Demon Sizzler model. Cars equipped with the optional Rallye wheels now came with newly-restyled center caps, finished in a light-argent (silver) paint. Since the Demon production was substantially less than Duster's, these cars, especially the 340 model, have a higher collector car value.
1972 Demon 340
In 1971, the car was somewhat controversial due to its “evil” name and corresponding impish devil, with a pitchfork graphic. Interestingly, product planner Burton Bouwkamp said, “The Dodge Demon was named by the Dodge sales department because they envisioned an ad that said ‘Come in for a Demon-stration.’ Despite this, some religious groups formally objected to its “wicked” cartoon emblem. In 1972, Dodge exorcised the devil, and the only thing remaining was his broken pitchfork. This criticism would be levied, again, against the 2018 Demon (840 hp.) that had a far more sinister look. It makes you wonder what the reaction would have been if the 2018 image was used in 1971!
1971 Demon Emblem
1972 Demon Emblem (without devil)
2018 Demon Emblem (far more sinister and wicked)