In 1971 Dodge introduced a new model to their Dart lineup. A variant of the Plymouth Duster, Dodge named their version the Demon. With optional hood scoops and blackout hood treatment, the car was advertised as a performance car. The Dodge Demon was offered in two trim levels, the base Demon and the Demon 340 (both two door fastback coupes).
The base Demon was priced at $2,343 and came standard with your choice of the 198 C.I. Slant Six or the 318 C.I. V-8. Those looking for more performance were offered the Demon 340 featuring Chrysler’s 340 small block engine rated at 275 bhp. Priced at a mere $2,721 the Demon 340 was Dodge’s most affordable muscle car in 1971. They produced 69,861 Demons and 10,098 Demon 340’s that year.
We had the fortunate opportunity to check out Rome resident, Joe Fazio’s, awesome 1971 Dodge Demon 340. At least that’s what it started life as. It’s gone through a few different paint jobs, motors, and configurations over the years to get to the lean, mean, fire breathing machine it is today. If you are from the CNY area, chances are you’ve seen this car on the road as Joe is not afraid to drive it to work, cruise-ins, and the track. He even drove it daily for years and took the kids to school in it.
The car has had almost a 20 year history with the Fazio family after Joe purchased the car in 1997. He told us how he bought it from Frank Rizito of Frank’s Transmission. Joe went to the shop originally interested in a Duster, but as the owner pulled the cover off the Demon 340, he instantly fell in love and had to have it. Frank had originally purchased the car in ‘88 and had never done much with it in the almost 10 years he had owned it.
Joe bought the Demon 340 and set out to breathe new life into the machine. It originally had a vinyl top that they removed during a repainting project since that’s an area where corrosion starts to build up after time. Having had a really straight and solid body that wasn’t something he was looking to risk. Joe started his career in the automotive industry in mechanics and took to learning body work from his friend Bill Mathers of Cleveland, NY. He told us how the first project he ever worked on was a Pontiac GTO.
Through the years, Joe has repainted the Demon himself a few times, including a complete full rebuild in 2004. He expressed how he could never justify spending $20,000 on a professional paint job for a car like this, and that chips and imperfections are bound to happen with the way he drives this beast. Even so, the car looks stunning in person – Joe has some painting skills for sure.
The most interesting feature on this car is likely not its paint, but the amazing 439 C.I. small block engine that Joe sourced from California in 2008. He bought the block and W9 cylinder heads from a custom limousine builder who purchased these engine parts from a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team. Supposedly it was race-used! How many car owners can claim they have NASCAR power in their street legal machines? My guess is not many.
Fitting this type of engine into this car was no easy task. Joe enlisted the help of his friend, Brett Meus, who fabricated the headers and performed a lot of the custom engine work to get it running properly. The new 439 engine is mated to a Mopar 904 Torqueflite Automatic Transmission and Moser rear end to put the estimated 720hp to the wheels.
Joe’s friend Mark Feldman also helped him with the car through the years in maintaining this awesome machine. They’ve done many modifications together with a seemingly endless list of upgrades including suspension work and wheel tubs.
The performance of Joe’s 1971 Dodge Demon is truly astounding for a street legal machine. As an avid weekend drag racer, Joe has taken this car to the track many times through the years. He regularly visits ESTA and Lebanon Valley drag strips and has run as fast as a 9.72 second/137mph quarter mile and that’s with using pump gas. Now that’s a hell of a speed-demon.
Even as fast and amazing as the car is today, Joe still isn’t finished. In the very near future, the car will be getting a twin turbo fuel injection upgrade that should add a little more horsepower. His goal is eventually to get the Demon into the 8’s on the strip while still being on the road and on pump gas. We cannot wait to see it go down the track when it gets that upgrade.
Story: Kevin Crandall
Photos: Chris Penree