NEED TO GO FAST?
LIVING WITH A 5-SECOND ’71 DODGE DEMON STREET CAR.
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.
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.