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1971 Dodge Demon - The Super Demon

The Proposed Dodge 440ci A-Body Could Have Been a Killer in SS/CA

By Al Kirschenbaum, Photography by The Brunt Bros.

Two years later, Dodge was again pursuing what it had perceived as a clear lane into the Eliminator. Its preliminary plan for 1971 called for the A-body/B-engine combo (a non-factory, post-'69 pairing) to swarm the "open" SS/CA class and take easy wins. The quickest cars could then advance into Sunday/Monday runoffs, and, potentially, into factory win ads. With Super Demon, the product planners projected a 30 percent improvement in a Chrysler product's chances of winning Super Stock Eliminator at national events. And even if a Super Demon or two couldn't battle their way into the final rounds, they could at least block competing brands' entries from challenging late. Unfortunately, the tantalizing proposal never made it beyond the forms it was typed on, much less into competition.

Those 40-year-old inter-departmental memos were uncovered by former Mopar Performance (MP) staffer David Hakim. The paperwork outlines the concept, explaining how it "permits us [Chrysler Corp.] to strengthen the performance/race winning image of our believable and saleable wedge engines which must be sold against ‘semi-hemi' Chevrolet and Ford engines." The memo also specified a build-run of 50 "off-road drag racing specials" to satisfy the sanctioning bodies' minimum production requirements.

Tom Hoover, Chrysler's drag-program manager, generated the inter-company correspondence calling for the off-line conversion of '71 Dodge 340 Demon auto-trans business coupes into drag cars—all powered by a '70s-style Max Wedge V8. Hoover's formula for fire centered on a production '71 440-cid Six Barrel short-block straight from the Trenton Engine Plant. It was to be topped by '64 Maximum Performance wedge cylinder heads and a dual-quad cross-ram intake manifold—OE parts that had been out of production for a number of model years. Hoover reasoned that retooling the by-then-already-rare Stage III Max Wedge cylinder heads and manifolds would satisfy the hordes of Mopar Stock and Super Stock class racers clamoring for replacement hardware, while sales of the castings through Chrysler's Direct Connection parts arm would help offset its manufacturing costs.

Dated October 6, 1970, the rest of Hoover's Dodge-only proposal called for installation of a '71 440 Six Barrel G-Series TorqueFlite automatic transmission, upsized universal joints (from 7260 to 7290), an A-body/B-engine radiator, a stamped-steel hood panel with a functional steel air scoop or scoops, a modified left-side motor-mount bracket, and "West Coast" flame arrestors atop Carter 3705S four-throat carbs. Interior décor included an instrumented Rallye dash and lightweight Dodge van buckets by Bostrum, mounted on Swiss-cheesed aluminum brackets. The usual weight-saving deletions included radio, heater, back seat, and some insulation and sound deadener. The fact that the Demon's wheelbase is 3 inches shorter than the old 440 Dart's 111 inches was mentioned only in meetings.

Then, inexplicably, the floor collapsed, and the entire project went down the drain. As noted in inter-department correspondence from T. Hoover dated January 18, 1971: "1971 Dodge Demon Package For SS/CA: We are no longer considering a special drag racing package for the 1971 model Dodge Demon as discussed in the meeting of October 26, 1970, and described in my letter of November 3, 1970." Period. Dassit! End of fantasy.

Perhaps the Maximum Performance A-body plan got plugged by the same obstructions that dammed the flow of the entire first generation of Detroit muscle machines. Or maybe it simply dried up due to overly oppressive bean counters. We may never understand. What we do know, however, is that new Max Wedge cylinder heads and intakes are flowing from Chrysler again, and the Super Demon project itself—though decades off-course and somewhat scaled down—has been totally refloated. Thanks to the interest and efforts of Mr. Norm's Garage (Rockford, IL), we have this look at the first of a small fleet of Super Demon tribute race cars to roll out of its conversion works. Mr. Norm's Max Wedge Super Demon packs all the spirit of the original factory concept into real metal. It's a unique muscle car combination that never really left the factory—and a seasoned plan that only took four decades to "dart" from paper to pavement.

By Al Kirschenbaum
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