Dodge entered the 1970s decade surprisingly well when it came to its smaller cars, with the Dart lineup and its Plymouth twin offering car buyers plenty of low-cost variety while also offering some hair-raising performance versions for those with a little extra dough.
While the Dodge Dart itself achieved no shortage of glory with V8 power in the late 1960s – including the Hurst-tuned Hemi Darts – the 1970s brought the sprawling Dart lineup changes to mark the separation of the larger Challenger. But this didn’t stop cars like the Dart Swinger from playing the role of the sporty offering, with V8 power under the hood.
Fast-forward a year, and Dodge also got a variant of the Plymouth Duster (badge engineering was getting out of hand in this era) called the Dart Demon. And that’s the vehicle you see here.
Except, there wasn’t alone a theirs for the 1971 model year. You could choose from two Slant Six options on the Demon, with displacements of 198 or 225 cubic inches, or a choice of two V8s with 318- or 340-CID.
This is the last of the… Four Demons of the Apocalypse, with a 275 hp V8 mated to a 3-speed manual transmission. A catchy badge advertised what was under the hood, while the heavy-duty brakes and Rallye suspension package kept things under control for the most part.
A selection of visual upgrades let The Law know you were up to no good on a Friday night as you pulled up to the drive-in, but inside the Demon 340 appears spartan today, with a vinyl bench seat (great for the yawn-and- reach-over during the movie) and many metal surfaces. But if you wanted a tachometer, that was an option you had to order.
“This year you get our high-revving little V8. With new French taillights and a sleek-looking grille,” an ad copy promised. “It all runs on a heavy-duty Rallye suspension with torsion bar suspension; heavy shocks; big brakes; and a slick, fully synchronized floor-mounted box. Add a readable speedometer with resettable trip indicator and a hygienic, spacious, all-vinyl interior, and you’re done to roll.
And given the refinement of the V8, that hygienic, all-vinyl interior might come in handy if your movie date was prone to getting carsick.
“This may be our lowest priced performance car, but you’d never know it from the way it keeps up with the big boys,” boasted the ad copy.
Speaking of prices, the Dart Demon 340 was indeed affordable, with a price tag of $2721 in 1971. This works out to just $20,374 in today’s money, and we don’t need to tell you how much you will not get for that amount nowadays. (You shall getting airbags and other safety technology in your Mitsubishi Mirage that you would have desperately needed in 1971, but the point stands).
Two-speed wipers and a cigarette lighter were both standard equipment, we’re pleased to report, so all the basics of visibility while driving and nicotine intake were covered.
Oddly enough, the hood scoops, spoiler and black hood were all options, so you could skip them altogether to try and stay out of sight of The Man, as this car did. But the orange paint would still give you away to some degree.
The reason you may not have seen many Demon 340s in the 1970s, even if you were looking for such things at the time, was the fact that they were only offered for two model years, 1971 and 1972, and Dodge sold about 10,000 of them. Demon 340 units for the first year, and even fewer in 1972. For 1973, the model was renamed the Dart Sport 340, and the base Demon was also gone, with the name Dart Sport.