Liv­ing with a 5-sec­ond ’71 Dodge De­mon street car.

This is a story about build­ing a 5-sec­ond Mopar. It all started when then HOT ROD Ed­i­to­rial Di­rec­tor David Freiburger shared a link from Craigslist fea­tur­ing a back-halved ’71 Dodge De­mon. The car was in primer (red flag num­ber one), but had some very pro­fes­sional-look­ing chas­sis and tin work in­side. The slant six was still in place along with the stock fire­wall, dash, and ev­ery­thing for­ward of that point. We were think­ing big-block swap and then call­ing it a day.

At the same time, we were pro­duc­ing a mag­a­zine call Elapsed Times, a throw­back retro drag rac­ing an­nual that was not only fun to read, but also fun to cre­ate. It was largely cen­tered around the glory days be­tween 1965 and 1980, when drag rac­ing was evolv­ing from a hobby to a pro­fes­sional sport. Star­ing at thou­sands of photos daily gave us the idea of paint­ing the De­mon with pan­els, freak dots, and lace like the Funny Cars that had our eye. We also re­ally wanted the flat hood, door-slammer look — no scoops or cowls. Drink­ing the Kool-aid made the car a lot more com­pli­cated. You can see for yourself if the re­sult earns all the style points and street cred we think it does.

The difference be­tween the last photo and this one is six months. By now we had as­sem­bled the car three times for test-fit­ting var­i­ous parts. Fi­nally, af­ter four years, the car was run­ning.

re­quired to You can see the level of fab­ri­ca­tion that is light and build even a mild steel door car clearcoated, it was goes straight. Af­ter the car was was painted with dis­as­sem­bled (again) and the cage KBS Coat­ings brush-on paint.

On the first trip to the track, the car hooked hard and ran a string of low 9s. Think­ing that rais­ing the launch rpm would get us that last tenth re­warded us with a hard wheel­stand that tweaked the nar­rowed iron 8 ¾ hous­ing, mov­ing the axle and...

In the pre­vi­ous photo you can see what a hard launch will do to a four-link car that’s mak­ing great power but doesn’t have an an­tiroll bar in the rear. The Fab 9 from Al­ston has a higher 3:55:1 gear, a Strange cen­ter­sec­tion, and a bil­let yolk. It’s...

Look­ing to drive this on the street, we soon found out that Be Cool can cus­tom build just about any­thing. There are no nickel-and-dime items on a car like this — ev­ery sys­tem was $1,500 or more.

and only The next step was to add a trans­mis­sion, Au­to­matic a 727 would do. For­tu­nately, Per­for­mance a trans­brake and had a sys­tem in place that in­cluded to 800 hp we planned enough juice to han­dle the 700 to make at the wheel.

paintjob is the prep work and The trick, we learned, to a mile-deep on top. We lost track of that num­ber the num­ber of coats of clearcoat as a new bowl­ing ball. Just about but the re­sult­ing fin­ish was like durable as well.

was a clean body. It was We hoped that un­der the primer rust in the low­ers that needed mostly straight, but there was most of that year at Elite to be cut out. The car would spend where they cut out Restora­tions in Paramount, California, the bad and...

The can­dies, pan­els, freak dots, and stripe work took two weeks of 8-10 hour days. If you are do­ing the math, this is two years into the build, and the car doesn’t even run.

While the De­mon was in paint, we con­structed a 392inch Hemi us­ing a K1 ro­ta­tor and a ’06 Hemi block and heads from a Ram truck. At the time, no one had cracked the new Hemi code so we used a stand­alone Hol­ley Dom­i­na­tor and ca­bledriven throt­tle body.

we The Har­poon has only painted two cars that the chop­per know of. The rest of his work is in laid world. Af­ter the base was sanded flat, he each stripe by hand.

Fi­nally, paint. Danny and Praveen at Elite prepped the car and added a basecoat of ’69 Ply­mouth B5 Blue Fire from Ax­alta Coat­ing Sys­tems.

The car had a Chris Al­ston 2x3 back-half al­ready in­stalled. Chris, To quote “There are thou­sands cars of th­ese around with our back-half. them, we For also make a 2x3 front So that’s clip.” what we did. The car is bet­ter look­ing in per­son, if you...

re­sist Never buy a car in primer. We know this, but we still couldn’t this deal. We got the car in trade of a LA 360 small-block stro­ker.

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the great Kenny Dut­tweiler noted that On this run, none other than the and hear­ing the car from a dis­tance. con­verter was too loose af­ter see­ing range so later we switched to the We were very close to the 150-mph rule. eighth-mile to avoid the para­chute

Eight years later, the car can 60-foot in the 1.20s, ran the eighth-mile in 5.58 sec­onds, and traps at 126 mph (that’s about 8.85 in the quar­ter de­pend­ing on what cal­cu­la­tor you use). Of course, we skipped the wiring, in­te­rior, fuel sys­tem, wheels and...

Of course, with a change of the axle flanges, we had to up­grade the brakes to fit. Th­ese are Wil­wood dy­namic discs for drag rac­ing. With this much brak­ing power, it al­most doesn’t need a para­chute, but the NHRA says oth­er­wise.

Dut­tweiler was cor­rect of course. Joe Rivera from Pro Torque cooked us up some­thing from his power-adder col­lec­tion and, wow, did we find some speed.

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