Not all classic cars were set apart by blinding-fast speeds or massive engines. The 1971 Dodge Demon is a perfect example. A solid performer in its 340 cubic inch version, it was basically a modified Duster. Nonetheless, it earns its place in automotive history due to the name it was given, as well as the one it wasn’t.
In 1970 Plymouth came out with the original Duster. At its heart was one of the best-designed engines Detroit ever built, the legendary slant-six. The vehicle was so popular that other Chrysler divisions demanded a version of their own. The powers-that-be acquiesced, and offered Dodge a slightly modified variant that the boys in the marketing department decided to call the “Beaver.”
Why they chose that moniker is anyone’s guess. It’s hard to imagine anyone bragging that they were the proud owners of a brand new Beaver. But, just before the name was announced, some top execs found out that “beaver” was the term favored by long-haul truckers for a certain female body part. So, after some hasty brainstorming, they chose the name “Demon” instead.
The brochure sent out to the dealerships bragged that the new car was a “tough little devil.” As an added inducement, buyers could have a cutting-edge piece of audio technology: a cassette stereo, which was a huge leap forward from the 8-track players of the time.
The Demon’s default V-8 was the 2-barrel 318 cubic inch block, but for a few extra bucks, the buyer could upgrade to a larger engine, and the Demon 340 was born. Tipping the scales at 3165 pounds, it went zero to 60 in 7.8 seconds. It finished the quarter mile in 14.56 seconds at 96 MPH in official tests. With an available performance axle ratio it could wrap it up in under 14 seconds while topping 100 miles per hour.
The Demon was no Lord of Hell, but a good little angel it certainly was not, and it held its own in many a street race. All in all, not a bad way to spend $2721.00 back in ’71. Could you flip the cassette over, please?