A good mystery is part of what makes car collecting a great hobby. This '72 Demon 340 belongs to Sharleen Barbagallo of Bristol, Connecticut, and its possible connection to a legendary batch of musclecars makes it a classic head-scratcher.
Sharleen and her husband, Ralph, believe they may have a Grand Spaulding Special (GSS) edition that was upgraded at the Chicago dealership. There is no documented proof that Sharleen's Demon is a GSS upgrade car, and chances are slim there ever will be. Ralph and Sharleen attempted to have the car authenticated, but word came back that the records for VINs as high as theirs had been destroyed by flood damage.
But there are several clues that point to the possibility of Grand Spaulding heritage. First, the "Mr. Norm's Dyno Tested" and "Mr. Norm's Grand Spaulding Dodge" decals, which every car received, indicate the car may have been purchased there. The hood was also modified to accommodate an Air Grabber air cleaner. "It is obvious whoever did the modifications to the hood really knew what they were doing," Ralph notes.
However, a case could also be made against this car being the work of Mr. Norm's gang because the '72 GSS Demons typically had twin-scooped hoods. They were also equipped with Paxton superchargers, and Sharleen's car is not.
If the case were to be solved, it would be up to the man himself. At the Grand Spaulding Dodge reunion during the '97 Mopar Nationals, Ralph and Sharleen got the chance to meet Mr. Norm and see if he could recognize his handiwork.
"Basically, he said he did whatever the customer wanted back then," Ralph says. "When he saw there was no supercharger, he said he had an original one on the shelf and offered to put it on. But he said [Grand Spaulding] put out a lot of cars, and there was really no way he could say for sure it was [or wasn't] his work." So much for that.
Still, GSS or not, Ralph and Sharleen couldn't pass up the opportunity to have Mr. Norm autograph the air cleaner. "It was pretty exciting to meet him because he took what Chrysler was doing at the time and multiplied it by two," Sharleen says. "He is a legend in this arena, but he was very approachable, very nice."
The story doesn't end there. Galen Govier's research shows the VIN occurred late in the production year, meaning this may have been the last Demon ever made. Plus, when the Barbagallos found this Demon, it had the Sizzler stripe package on it, which it retains. But, Sizzlers weren't available with 340s, so a previous owner must have liked the way they looked and added them. "Sharleen's known for having an odd car," Ralph says.
It was at the '91 Mopar Nationals that Sharleen purchased the car. "I had two Dusters in high school-nothing fancy-but that was the car I was looking for," Sharleen says. Having had no luck, she was packing to leave on the last day while Ralph went back for another look. "Ralph said 'You've got to come back and see this car.' To my untrained eye, the body style looked [like a Duster], it was in good condition, and the price was right, so I said, 'That's the one.' "