The unique bodystyle was a value leader in the Valiant lineup and could be ordered with a number of optional equipment extras allowing buyers to take it from plain to posh. With its success it was no surprise to see Chrysler's Dodge Division offer the same bodystyle the following year.
With only a moderate restyling of the grill, trim and taillamps, the new Dodge Demon hit the streets as the base "value package" version of the Dart. The same optional list of extras would apply and like most models of the day there was a performance version available, the 275 horsepower Demon 340. Built only in 1971 and '72 the Demon is considerably scarcer than other Chrysler A-body cars with only 10,098 and 8,750 cars built. While the later models share the same bodystyle, the Demon moniker was dropped in favour of the name Dart Sport.
Riding on a 108-inch wheelbase and weighing in at 3,165-pounds, the Demon had a pretty decent power-to-weight ratio and was capable of 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds and the quarter-mile in 14.5 seconds. With a list price of approximately $2,800 it not only gave buyers a lot of bang for their buck, it was also a good car for a small family. Easily seating four people and with a trunk larger than some of today's full-size cars, it still carried that sporty youthful feel many buyers wanted.
Back in July of 1972, newlyweds Roland and Lois Tomchak of Winnipeg chose a bright Hemi orange Demon 340 as their first new car. With Roland driving a work truck, the Demon saw use only on weekends and after trying to drive the car through the first winter it quickly became the couple's summer only cruiser. Equipped with the 340 cubic inch V8, Torqueflite automatic transmission, power steering, power front disc brakes, black bucket seats, centre console, rear window defogger, colour-keyed dual racing mirrors, hood scoop, chrome exhaust tips, 3.23:1 ratio Sure-Grip rear axle, AM radio and the very rare, dealer installed clear plastic seat covers, it was a nicely optioned car in '72. It was so nice the Tomchaks kept the car and still have it today. With 48,000 original miles on the odometer the Demon remains in factory condition having only received regularly scheduled maintenance and a ton of TLC over the years. The car received a 100-point rating for its factory correct underhood condition and 92.83-points overall at the 1997 Mopar Nationals and has been featured in the April/98 edition of Mopar Action magazine.
While the story could probably end here, fast-forward twenty years to 1992 and we find the Tomchaks' 19-year-old son Chris, purchasing his own 1972 Demon 340. "I grew up in the back seat of Dad's Demon, so when the time came I bought one of my own," says Chris. While Chris's car is a true 340 Demon, it needed a complete restoration and today the only parts that are still original are the doors. Chris welded in new rear quarter panels and installed new front fenders while Roland performed the necessary bodywork and paint preparation before applying the striking Panther pink paint finish. Using Roland's car as a guide, Lois stenciled and cut the black side and rear panel decals for Chris' car.
Under the hood Chris assembled a rebuilt 340 V8 that's been machined by Ken's Kustom Auto Machine. Fitted with 10.5:1 compression TRW pistons, high performance camshaft, J heads with 2.02-inch intake valves, exhaust headers, MSD ignition and a 750 c.f.m. Demon double-pumper four-barrel carburetor, the engine easily exceeds its 275 horsepower factory rating. Backed by a B&M 3,500 r.p.m. hi-stall torque converter, 727 Torqueflite automatic transmission with Trans Go 2 shift kit and a 4.56:1 ratio Sure-Grip rear axle, this Demon really sizzles both on and off the track. The exhaust is a custom dual set-up using a combination of 2.5-inch diameter pipe leading to a pair of Flow Pro mufflers and 2.25-inch diameter tailpipes with chrome exhaust tips.
Inside there's a period correct 10,000 r.p.m. Sun tachometer, tinted glass, AM radio, power steering, power front disc brakes, Tuff steering wheel, centre console and a new black vinyl bucket seat interior with the correct clear vinyl seat covers. Tomchak says, "I paid more for the seat covers than I did for the whole interior kit." Other options include a hood scoop, dual chrome racing mirrors; hood pins and colour coded rally wheels with radial tires.
Since the completion of the two-year restoration in 1994, the Tomchaks' Demons can be found at most local car shows and Cruise Nite at the Pony Corral Restaurant on Pembina Hwy. A true family affair with a definite preference for Chrysler products the Tomchaks are getting ready to tackle another restoration. This time it's a pair of 1968 Plymouth GTX models.
This weekend the Manitoba Classic and Antique Car Club presents their 6th Annual Red River Valley Swap Meet and Old Car Festival at Red River Exhibition Park located at 3977 Portage Avenue. Admission is $3.00 per day or $5.00 for the weekend with children under 12-years free when accompanied by an adult. It all starts Saturday at 8 a.m. with a charity pancake breakfast sponsored by the Assiniboine Rotary Club and includes feature car displays, parts swap, vendor and car corral. For further information and space rentals contact Gord at 222-2298 or Mort at 889-9970.
PHOTO RUTH BONNEVILLE/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS