The story of this '71 Demon is rooted in a love for all things Mopar. Tom Notoli was attending the 2007 Mopar Nationals when he met a woman by the name of Shanna Simicsak. They began dating and their shared interest for Mopars brought them together. "She told me that her favorite Mopar was the Demon," Tom tells us. Shanna vowed that one day she would have one and that she wanted it red.
As the relationship progressed, Tom felt encouraged to begin looking for one without her knowing it. This didn't go too well because he could only find overpriced restored cars or cut up race cars. Eventually, he found a Rallye Red Duster with the Gold Duster Package. The car ran and had working air conditioning. "I figured that this was about as close as I could get to a Demon," he concedes. She was elated, but secretly Tom was still on the hunt. About a year later Tom's friend, Dan Nenmarch who lived in Michigan, told him about a Demon he found locally.
The interior is just as it was delivered, new and plaid.
It was Labor Day Weekend 2007, and there, in a former basket factory warehouse, sat a basket case Demon. It wasn't much to look at, but the seller gloated that it was originally a Plum Crazy 340 car. As appetizing as that may be to any Mopar nut, the car was in rough shape, Shanna saw the look on Tom's face and said "We don't have to take it home." Out of curiosity, Tom pondered whether or not the car still had its buildsheet intact. Tom starting digging around under the back seat and unearthed the original buildsheet. Much to his surprise, the deal got sweeter. According to the buildsheet, it left the factory drenched in Plum Crazy paint with a sport black out hood and scoops, white body side stripes, Rallye wheels, houndstooth interior, and a factory tachometer. There was, however, one problem: The car wasn't red!
Have a seat. Seriously, we dare you.
"Once we pictured the car done in our minds, we decided to tackle the project," he says. The two quickly settled that they wouldn't paint the car red because they would both feel guilty. "We decided that the buildsheet was the only way to go." The deal was struck and with a little assistance from a John Deere tractor, the Demon was rescued from its lowly resting place.
While they were loading it onto the back of the trailer, the now previous owner began to tell them that it was a numbers matching engine and transmission. "Because of the condition of the car and the location that it was sitting, I wasn't able to confirm this," Tom says. "We had a 16-hour trip back home, so all I could do was think about the car." Finally, on one of their food stops, Tom's curiosity got the best of him. He made his way back under the trailer and cleared out the cobwebs and reveled that it was in fact a numbers matching engine and transmission.
The couple finally got their car home and the first order of business was to strip it down to its shell. Tom tracked down a pair of NOS quarters from Greg at Great Lakes NOS and replaced the trunk floor and front fenders. He called Legendary Auto Interiors and had them make Black plaid seat covers out of NOS material. After all of the bodywork, Tom put on the gas mask and began to carefully mist Plum Crazy DuPont Chromabase and Chromaclear inside his garage. As the paint was hardening the NOS moldings for the hood were installed and the rest were buffed out.
The engine was sent out to a local machine shop so that it could be punched out .030-inch over while the heads were fitted with hardened seats. After the work was done, the block and heads were brought back home so Tom could assemble the engine. He went through the original transmission, refreshed it, and installed a shift kit before installing it back into the car. The front suspension was rebuilt, and Tom installed new fuel lines, brake lines, and hoses. Finally, after 10 months, the car fired up on July 10, 2008-one week before Chryslers at Carlisle.
While it may not be the red Demon that Shanna dreamed of, we're sure it's every bit the dream car she had in mind. "She was with me every step of the way, up to here elbows in grease and rust as we restored the car," says Tom. Aside from the engine machine work and head work, the complete rebuild took place in Tom's garage.
Now that the car is finished, Shanna drives it every chance she gets to local cruise ins and car shows while they try to make it to most of the major Mopar events every year. You may be asking "what about the Duster?" Have no fear, Tom is currently working on restoring it too. The Demon was a little more important for them, but who knows, maybe the Duster will be ready for Carlisle next year!
1971 Dodge Demon 340
Owned by Tom Natoli and Shanna Simicsak
Ewing, New Jersey
- Engine: Tom got lucky when it turned out that the engine was numbers matching. He sent the block to a local machine shop to clear the bores by .030-inch. From there, a set of TRW pistons, stock rods, and crankshaft were installed. A Mopar reproduction .429/.444 cam was pushed in with factory lifters, pushrods, and rocker arms command the stock valves inside the original heads with hardened seats. Resting on the top of the engine is an original equipment Thermoquad 750-cfm carburetor. Tom resisted the temptation to install long tube headers and went with original manifolds and a Flowmaster exhaust. The oiling system is stock and the ignition was converted to an electronic system from Mopar.
- Transmission: Original column shift automatic with a shift kit. Tom rebuilt it before installation.
- Rearend: The original 8 3/4 rear was freshened up and sports a 3.23 gear and Sure Grip unit.
A rough start if it would start.
- Suspension: Using only factory parts, Tom rebuilt the entire front suspension to good-as-new performance with the help of Monroe front and rear shocks.
- Brakes: Manual 10-inch front and rear drums keep Shanna and Tom on their toes when they're driving the Demon around town.
- Wheels and Tires: As the buildsheet stated, original 14-inch Rallye wheels wearing BFG Radial T/A tires were put on the car. The tire sizes are staggered with 215/70R14 up front and 245/60R14 out back.
- Body: Tom is an automotive technician and what you would call a Jack of All Trades. He just so happens to be an excellent metal worker and tested his skills by installing NOS quarters, reproduction fenders, and smoothing the body and original doors.
- Paint: Once again, Tom extended his talents with the paint. DuPont Plum Crazy Purple Chromabase and clear were sprayed onto the body. He then carefully applied the decals, side stripes, and trim.
- Interior: Inside Legendary Auto Interiors came to the rescue with new seat covers using NOS plaid material. The rubber floor wasn't something Tom and Shanna were about to go with so it was converted to carpeting. Everything inside was either restored or found along the way.