|Exploring the Big Sur coast - Autumn 1990|
|Arches National Park - winter 1988|
Dodge only made the Demon, its answer to the Plymouth Dart, for two years - 1971 and 1972. It was marketed as a muscle car and its 340 version was, according to some, the fastest car built in 1971. (Mine was the long-haul version, but I never tested her full speed potential.) While many of its parts would swap with the Dart series, it had a rounder feel than the box Dart and unique taillights. Dodge found itself in hot water with the conservative set due to its choice of moniker and its move to advertise with models carrying pitchforks. The cute little devil graphic on some of the emblems probably didn't help matters, either.
But at just over 300,000 miles, she was growing weak. I still blame the forced change from leaded to unleaded gas for the burnt valves, but time and hard labor wear out even the strongest survivors. I had her valves replaced months before I moved some 800 miles back toward home and had barely finished paying off the job when she began to lose power again.
"Valves," they said.
"The hell you say," I said.
The first valve job had been cheaply performed and I was too far away from the shop to do anything about it - except pay for a new job.
But I had a new job, and it required that I actually show up on time every morning (and sometimes VERY early in the morning) one town away. I felt pressured to make a decision, to ensure that I had a vehicle I could trust. I didn't consider all my options. (Due to my hours, carpooling was not among those, and due to distance neither was the limited mass transit here. But borrowing a vehicle? That might have happened - if I'd only thought to ask!) And given that the first valve job didn't do the trick, my limited knowledge had me wondering if a second try would do it.
So I traded her in...for a little, four-door sedan that I nearly could have fit in her trunk and back seat. The new car got great mileage and started without a hiccup. It was exciting. But it wasn't long before I was missing my ol' Demon.
I don't see Demons on the road very often, but Sunday, on my way through old Orcutt, I spotted her - my car. Or a car that looked a LOT like her. Of course I whipped around and followed her the half block until she pulled over in a convenience store parking lot. As the owner crawled out, I pulled up behind his car.
"Where did you GET that CAR," I hollered.
"Iversen's," he said.
"That's my CAR!"
"In 1971," he said with a smile. He is the original owner of his 1971 Dodge Demon with the 340 and four on the floor. I'm sure he wondered what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks this woman in a minivan could possibly know about his Demon. But he caught on quickly as I asked the details.
"Is it the slant-6?" was probably the first giveaway.
Turns out he would sell it, for a price. $15,000 to be exact. He knows what he has, and he's not giving it away - or trading it in.