1971 Dodge Demon 340: 10 Reasons It’s A Unique Muscle Car
When we talk about old Mopar muscle cars, there are a few popular ones that come to mind like the Charger, Challenger, and Super Bee. However, there’s another car from that era that often gets overlooked – the 1971 Dodge Demon 340.
The Dodge Demon 340 is not as well-known as its bigger counterparts these days.
This is partly because it was based on the smaller Dodge Dart, so some people question whether it qualifies as a true muscle car
. Typically, muscle cars were built on a larger platform and had bigger engines. But there have always been a few exceptions, and we believe the 1971 Dodge Demon is definitely one of them. Here are 10 reasons to support our claim.
1. Small-Block Power: The Mighty 1971 Dodge Demon 340
The original Dodge Demon was built using the Dodge Dart as a starting point. It was based on Chrysler’s A-Body platform, which didn’t offer any big-block engines in 1971. This year is often seen as one of the last years of true American muscle cars because soon after, government regulations caused a significant drop in horsepower and compression ratios. Even the powerful Dodge Challenger would lose its big-block engine options in the following year, 1972.
However, the 1971 Dodge Demon still had some impressive power under its hood. It was equipped with a 340-cubic-inch V8 engine and a four-barrel carburetor, which produced a respectable 275 horsepower and a strong 340 pound-feet of torque. The car came with a standard three-speed manual transmission, but a four-speed manual and a TorqueFlite automatic were available as options.
2. Heavy-Duty Suspension: Enhancing Performance and Handling
When it comes to muscle cars, their handling abilities are often not their strong suit, especially when we’re talking about vintage models. Many muscle cars simply used suspension components from regular family cars made by the same manufacturers. As a result, they had a soft and bouncy ride that wasn’t ideal, especially when you were approaching a sharp turn at high speed.
However, the 1971 Dodge Demon 340 was different. It came with an upgraded suspension package that included larger torsion bars, a sturdier anti-roll bar, six-leaf springs at the rear, and heavy-duty shocks. These enhancements, combined with its smaller size, allowed the Demon 340 to have much better handling than many of its competitors.
3. Gimmicks: The Quirky Features Of The Demon 340
When it comes to classic muscle cars, there’s often a touch of gimmickry that divides car enthusiasts into two camps: those who love it and those who don’t. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Dodge was known for having some of the most interesting gimmicks in the industry.
To distinguish the Demon from its humble sibling, the Dart, Dodge introduced several distinctive touches exclusively for this model. Eye-catching wide graphics adorned the sides of the car, adding a flamboyant flair. The infamous Demon badges and cartoon-like imagery scattered throughout the vehicle were also part of its unique charm.
While these were just superficial ways to grab attention, they added an interesting and memorable character to the Demon, setting it apart from the crowd.
4. Lighter Curb Weight: The Advantage Of The 1971 Dodge Demon 340
While the 1971 Dodge Demon may not have had as much horsepower or engine size as its heavier counterparts like the Challenger and Charger, it had a significant advantage – a lower curb weight. Weighing in at 3,340 pounds, it wasn’t as light as a Lotus sports car, but it was still considerably lighter than the intermediate muscle cars of its time.
Thanks to its lighter weight, the 1971 Dodge Demon had less to carry on the race track. This made a big difference in crucial aspects like handling, braking, and acceleration. When combined with the Demon’s upgraded suspension, these cars became potent machines in the hands of skilled drivers. The lighter curb weight gave them an edge and made them formidable contenders.
5. Rarity: The Unique Appeal Of The Dodge Demon
One fascinating aspect of the original Dodge Demon is its rarity. In 1971, a mere 10,098 of these cars were produced in total.At first glance, this might not seem too uncommon, especially when compared to the extremely limited production of just 374 Plymouth Barracuda convertibles in the same year.
However, when you consider that the entire Dodge Dart lineup for 1971 included 123,864 cars, including the Demon and the Dart Swinger, it becomes clear that the Demon is quite a rare find. It’s an intriguing muscle car that stands out, despite sharing a common platform and parts with more affordable alternatives.
6. Styling and Design: The Striking Appeal Of The Demon 340
As a performance version based on the Dodge Dart, the 1971 Demon shares many visual elements with its foundation. It features similar styling components, but with the distinction of being offered exclusively as a fastback.Compared to the standard hardtop versions of the 1971 Dodge Dart, the Demon stands out with its more dynamic and unconventional design.
It incorporates unique gimmicks, along with cartoon-like imagery, which helped the Demon make a statement without being too overwhelming. The combination of these distinctive design elements and the car’s overall aesthetic created an eye-catching appeal that set it apart from its more conventional counterparts.
7. 1971: The Pinnacle Year of the Demon’s Firepower
The original Dodge Demon was available for just two years: 1971 and 1972. This compact car with a powerful V8 engine emerged during the final days of the original muscle car era and unfortunately met its end soon after. When it comes to performance, the 1971 model year is the one to go for, especially if you’re looking for a stock vehicle. In 1971, the Demon had a compression ratio of 10.3:1, delivering impressive power.
However, the 1972 variant saw a significant drop in performance, with a lower compression ratio of 8.5:1 and reduced horsepower. The 1971 Dodge Demon 340 boasted 275 horsepower, while the 1972 version had that number reduced to 240. This decline in performance was a common trend among muscle cars of that time, leading many enthusiasts to seek extensive modifications to compensate.
8. Carrying A Legendary Legacy: The Name Of The Dodge Demon
In a surprising turn of events, the Dodge Demon nameplate made a triumphant return with the unveiling of the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon at the 2017 New York Auto Show. After a long period of dormancy, the Demon name was revived and bestowed upon the hottest Challenger variant available. It’s an interesting twist considering that the original 1971 Dodge Demon, as showcased here, was a fast car in its own right, but nowhere near the monstrous power levels of these newer Challengers.
More recently, with the introduction of the 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170, the name has once again resurfaced, indicating that Dodge continues to embrace this iconic name. Despite its limited production history, the Demon name carries a strong heritage that has captivated automotive enthusiasts.
9. Matching the Muscle: A Small Engine with Big Power
In 1971, muscle cars were becoming rare, but they were still incredibly fast, especially when it came to accelerating. One of these muscle cars was the 1971 Dodge Demon. Although it didn’t have a big engine like its fancy counterparts such as the Charger and Challenger, it still held its own on the racetrack.The 1971 Dodge Demon 340 had an advantage because it was lighter and smaller than other muscle cars.
This meant that it could go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 6.5 seconds, depending on the conditions. When it came to racing on a straight track, a stock Demon could cover the quarter-mile distance in 14.49 seconds. This put it on the same level as other muscle cars that had much bigger engines. Despite its smaller size, the Dodge Demon was a force to be reckoned with and could keep up with the big-block muscle cars of its time.
10. Unexpectedly Affordable: Surprising Price Points
In today’s unpredictable classic car market, prices for different types of vintage cars are all over the place. While the value of many old muscle cars reached sky-high levels in the 2000s, some examples of these cars are still quite expensive.
However, the 1971 Dodge Demon offers a more affordable option. While other well-known muscle cars can easily cost around $50,000 for decent models, you can still find a Dodge Demon for just a little over $20,000.
That’s a significant price difference. Another advantage of the Dodge Demon is that it shares the A-Body platform with the cheaper Dart, which means that many parts can be swapped between the two cars. This interchangeability helps to keep maintenance and repair costs lower for the Dodge Demon, making it an even more budget-friendly choice for muscle car enthusiasts.