A DIFFERENT KIND OF DEMON
YEARS BEFORE DODGE OFFERED THE CHALLENGER SRT DEMON, BILL SEFTON AND MIKE STAVESKI BUILT A ’71 DEMON WITH MODERN-DAY PERFORMANCE.
Years before Dodge offered the Challenger SRT Demon, Bill Sefton and Mike Staveski built a ’71 Demon with modern-day performance.
Looking back on the development of Chrysler’s compact A-body platform through the 1960s and into the 1970s, often overlooked is the introduction of the Plymouth Valiant Duster in 1970 with its fastback styling applied to the boxy styling of its two-door sedan counterpart. It was a huge success, and in an era when Dodges were marketed mostly through a dealer network separate from Chrysler-plymouth, Dodge dealers screamed for their own version. For the 1971 model year, Dodge got their wish, the Demon.
Reportedly named for a proposed ad line that said, “Come in for a Demon-stration,” the Demon moniker was almost immediately denounced by some groups and sacked after the 1972 model year, replaced by Dart Sport. But for 1971 and 1972, the stylish Demon fastback hardtop was a sales success, even though it sold less than its Plymouth Duster counterpart.
The original Demon was offered with the expected Mopar engine choices, 198 and 225ci Slant Six motors and 318 and the high-revving 340 V-8s. With their lightweight bodies, the 340-equipped cars could sprint from 0-to-60 in less than 8 seconds — quite respectable for its time — but falling far short of a contemporary ’18 Dodge Demon that will reach 100 mph in about 5 seconds on 91-octane fuel.
But what if you wanted a ’71 Demon with acceleration that would approach that of its current namesake? For starters, because of the ’71’s lighter 3,353-pound curb weight, the 840hp modern Demon powerhouse underhood wouldn’t be necessary. So to answer the question, a built 426 Hemi from the Demon’s era would most likely do the trick. This is exactly the road Mopar enthusiast Bill Sefton took when specifying this ’71 Dodge Demon, built by Mike Staveski in Hudson, Florida, who has built a number of over-the-top custom Mopars, including a series of Viper-powered classic E-bodies, dubbed
Sefton has been collecting cars for more than 25 years. He grew up in the Chicago area and started driving in 1967, right at the heart of the muscle car era. Mr. Norm’s Grand Spaulding Dodge was one of his regular haunts as he came of age. “I drooled over cars I couldn’t have. It made sense that I started Mr. Norm’s Garage years later. But I’m a brand X guy, I like all makes and models. In my collection, I have Chrysler, Ford, and GM products but have more Mopars due to the fact that they have more variety than the other manufacturers. And while I like cars that are restored to stock, I also appreciate restomods like this ’71 Demon.”
Over the years, Sefton has owned many high-performance muscle cars, starting with his first, a ’71 Mustang Mach 1. His first collector car was a ’67 435hp Tripower Corvette that he still owns. But at his heart, he’s an A-body Mopar guy. Over the years he’s owned many Darts, Barracudas, and Demons. “Strangely enough, I’ve never had a Duster,” says Sefton. “With the Mr. Norm connection, I’ve owned a ’68 Dart GSS, two ’71 Demon GSSS, three ’72 Demon GSSS ,and several other Grand Spaulding Dodge cars. I owned all four Hemi Under Glass cars and still have the ’69 Hemi Under Glass that rolled over with Jay Leno in it, along with a ’68 Super Stock Dart.”
Over the years, Sefton and Staveski have collaborated on many hyper-horsepower Mopars, several of them licensed under the Mr. Norm’s Garage banner. Obviously, Mr. Norm being Norm Kraus of Grand-spaulding Dodge fame, the legendary Chicago-based dealership responsible for many noteworthy street-legal and Mopar race cars of the muscle car era.
When asked what motivated the purchase and build of the restomod Demon, here’s how Sefton explained it: “I wanted a restomod Demon for an everyday driver. Mike Staveski built it. It’s a tribute to the ’71 GSS Demon. It’s equipped with three two-barrel throttle bodies for its injection and includes a ’71 GSS Tri-power air
cleaner. Built many years ago, this Pro Touring Demon has remained in the Sefton collection and remains one of his favorite cars. Sefton has owned several classic Dodge Demons over the years, including an original supercharged ’72 Demon GSS, so he clearly has a benchmark for a modern-day version that deviates from the brute force approach applied by Dodge for its modern-day, Challenger-based edition.
Sefton’s Pro Touring, modern-day Demon, built well before the new Challenger SRT Demon, started out as a solid-yet-not-perfect ’71 Demon. Auto Metal Direct supplied the replacement sheetmetal. It was used as a prototype by Staveski as a template for other new-gen-powered Demons built to owner specifications. Underhood is a new-generation 6.1L Hemi with a twist, the Imagine Injection Six Pack Electronic Stack system. The engine is controlled by a by a FAST Engine Management System. It’s backed up with a classic five-speed manual transmission, and the power is transmitted to the pavement through a Moser-built Dana 60 differential. Stopping power comes by Willwood disc brakes with Modern Muscle 20-inch wheels and Pirelli Pzero Rosso tires. AFCO supplied the fully adjustable coilover suspension, which when combined with the modern rolling stock give this vintage-looking Demon capabilities similar to its modern-day counterpart.
On the inside, while sporting a vintage look, this Demon is totally updated. To keep cool, Sefton and Staveski installed a Vintage Air system and discarded the crank-down windows, replacing the cranks with a power window setup from Electric Life with the four switches mounted in the center console. The bolstered seats and the trim panels were covered in materials supplied by Yearone. While this Demon lacks a state-of-theart uconnect infotainment system, it’s equipped with a modern all-sony system with an in-dash receiver, a trunk-mounted multi-channel amplifier along with upgraded speakers and subwoofer. Updating the receiver recently, the system now has fully integrated Bluetooth capabilities. Sefton can directly interface his iphone for modern navigation capabilities, with turn-by-turn instructions that play through the speakers … just like a modern Demon.
Believe it or not, this is one of Sefton’s regular drivers. He explains: “The way Mike Staveski built the car, it has very modern handling characteristics — something that Mike is well-known for having built so many exceptional cars over the last two decades — and runs very strong. It has tremendous eyeball appeal every time I drive it; I get lots of thumbs up. It’s got style, without question. Some liberties were taken with the build to make the car recognizably a Demon, but with an updated look. Like the way Mike handled all the Demon graphics, especially on the tailpanel, with airbrushing by Jaymz Air Studio. Over the years, I’ve exhibited the car at MCACN, the Playboy Mansion, and Muscle Cars at the Strip.”
Cars like Sefton’s Pro Touring Demon illustrate that innovative builders like Staveski can work wonders with the support of a vibrant aftermarket that continues to provide the components to match their vision and creativity. The driveline, assembled more than a half-decade ago, remains contemporary and up-to-date, with the fuel injection and air conditioning, it has daily driver abilities — even in the summertime in Arizona, where temperatures often rise above 120 degrees F. This is one Demon that has come a long way from what the Dodge product planners envisioned when, in 1970, they prepared the Demon as the Dodge version of the Duster. Even almost five decades on, things turned out pretty well.
The contemporary 6.1L, Srt8-derived Hemi features an Imagine Injection Six Pack system with a FAST Engine Management System. From the front, 6.1 liters of modern Hemi muscle barely fit between the wheelwells.
What a ’70s-era Demon interior should look like today with bolstered buckets keeping you planted at up to 1g lateral acceleration
This is the view that Bill Sefton shows the unwary: his taillight, when cruising the streets of the greater Phoenix metro area. Improved instrument illumination and the accessory gauges are evident from this view. The interior modifications are subtle,...
The quality of the bodywork is exhibited by this top-front, three-quarter view.
Jaymz Air Studio provided the updated Demon graphics over the paint done by Time Machines — Steveski’s company at the time.