Home Car Stories One Owner 1972 DODGE Dart Demon- Josephine
1972 DODGE Dart Demon- Josephine PDF Print E-mail
Written by Double Dragon
Sunday, 05 May 2013 10:40

1972 DODGE Dart Demon- Josephine


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown

72 demon josephine logo

The Dodge Demon was the second "me, too" car to come from the Dodge boys during the musclecar era. The first time top dog Dodge was caught off guard by little brother Plymouth occurred back in 1968 when Plymouth knocked all of the musclecar offerings into the background with their Roadrunner. Runaway sales prompted Dodge to release a Roadrunner clone based on the Dodge version of the B platform named the Super Bee. The Bee never caught on like the Roadrunner despite duplicating the bargain performance and cute character identity.

72 demon josephine dr front

History repeated itself when Plymouth once again scored a huge success with the Valiant Duster in 1970. This time it wasn't just a musclecar success. Although the Duster 340 churned out sales numbers the plain Jane versions far outnumbered the hot ones. The slant six in a sexy fastback body worked wonders for the Plymouth Valiant.

72 demon josephine three quarter rear

In 1971 Dodge got their own version of the Duster which they named the Dodge Dart Demon. The Demon was based on the same 108 inch wheelbase as the Duster and used the Duster rear end tooling. The rush to get the Demon into production cut corners. Critics noted that the Duster rear end had a different wheel well shape than the wheel wells in the front fenders of the Dart.

72 demon josephine dart nameplatel

Over at Plymouth massive sales created enough confidence in the Duster name to dispense with the 'Valiant' prefix in 1971. The Demon name never sold as well. This early production 1972 Demon has Dart identification on the rear deck lid. Sales literature and salesman's guides for the 1972 model year refer to the car as the Dart Demon. The owner's manual also calls the car a Dart Demon.

72 demon josephine owners manual

The prefix Dart was phased out later in the model year. The Demon name lasted 2 model years (1971 and 1972) before the name died in the fire of religious outrage. In 1973 the car was renamed the Dodge Dart Sport.

72 demon josephine driver side

The Demons and Dusters were unusual because they were essentially bargain basement economy cars that packed a visual wallop. People looking for cheap transportation could drive off in an ugly VW Bug or other tinny import or try to get some kind of style from a domestic. The domestic choices offered style usually with a nasty pay-off. The nice looking Chevy Vega had a laundry list of defects that plagued the cars from the instant they rolled off the dealership floor. AMC had a decent offering with the Hornet but by this time the company was in a downward spiral of quality control issues. Ford offered a bare bones but nice looking car with the Maverick but it was a very spartan offering at first. It didn't even have a glove box. The Maverick wasn't trouble prone but Ford made up for that with the exploding Pinto which was a was a ticking time bomb.

72 demon josephine pass side

Chrysler had the edge over all the domestic competitors with the Valiant Duster. Visually it was new with an exciting fastback, but this car had already stood the test of time. The trusty Valiant dependability carried over underneath the great new bodyline.

72 demon josephine nose

Despite the excitement created by the Duster 340 and Demon 340 these performance cars weren't responsible for the sales success of these sleek fastback cars. The real sellers were the slant six daily driver cars without stripes scoops or spoilers. The economical Dusters and Demons made up the lion's share of sales volume. Most buyers were on a budget and appreciated the good looks but spent very little for that stylish body.

One such buyer was Josephine. In fall of 1971, Josephine was living in Seattle, Washington in an apartment. She had socked away some cash. Josephine was a tiny 4 foot 11 woman but she was bursting with determination. She liked the Demon's looks but she was not one to throw money around. Josephine didn't want to get sucked into financing a car and paying interest. When she bought a car she didn't want to pay for any extras. She chose Tom Matson's Valley Motors in Auburn, Washington because it was a volume Dodge dealership which suited her plan to buy right off the lot to save money. To read a story about Tom Matson Dodge see the WASHINGTON/ Seattle Area stories filed in the DEALERSHIPS section of this website.

72 demon josephine 225 pass view

What she chose from the lot at Tom Matson's Valley Motors was a 1972 Demon equipped with minimal options. The Demon she gravitated to had the optional larger 225 slant six, power steering, automatic transmission, manual drum brakes, and tinted windshield. Her Demon lacked power brakes, rear defroster, or even a radio. The car came with the radio delete block off plate covering the dashboard radio location.

All base model Demons incorporated many small cost cutting strategies such as a single horn, pop out (instead of roll up) rear quarter windows, manual adjusting outside rear view mirror and a simple interior rear view mirror lacking the day/night feature.

72 demon josephine r passenger window closed

The photos above shows the rear passenger quarter window in the closed position. The metal handle in the bottom rear position flips the window out about 1 inch to provide limited ventilation as seen in the picture below.

72 demon josephine r window open

Josephine wasn't just thrifty with the car's content. She bargained the salesman down with a cash deal. No trade-in, no financing or interest at all. The car cost $2,964.00 plus $148.00 tax and $28.00 licensing fee. The total $3,140.20 cost drops to $3,081.00 "cash deal". Josephine accomplished this by getting the salesman to drop the cost of the car to $2,908.00 before tax and license. The deposit she paid on November 8, 1971 was only $50.00. That is a deal!

72 demon josephine deposit

The sales contract shown below has Josephine's signature and last name along with the significant VIN digits edited out, otherwise it is just as it appeared on the same day she paid the deposit.

72 demon josephine contract

Prominently written on the sales contract above is the assurance of "absolutely no dealer preparation charges or service fees." No one was going to pad out Josephine's bill of sale that was for sure. The contract was signed November 8, 1971 which was early in the second year run of the Demon.

On November 15, 1971 Josephine completed the AAA driving school course and was issued a certificate card. Then came a driving license. Now she was ready to drive her new car home.

72 demon josephine AAA driving instruction card

Although Josephine had just learned how to drive she was 33 years old which explains how she managed to save enough money to buy her first new car outright on a cash deal. With her new driver's license in hand she arrived to pay off her car.

72 demon josephine paid receipt

On Nov 16, 1971 after paying the balance owing of $3,031.40 in full Josephine registered her new Demon with the State of Washington.

72 demon josephine registration

The license plates issued in 1971 (OWE 915) were on the car for 41 years. Is ironic that someone who paid cash for everything and never owed any money had plates that began with the letters OWE To the right of the original plates in this photograph are the original keys with the 'return if lost' Vets keychain tag.

72 demon josephine license plate and keys

Josephine may have bargained hard but her Demon didn't look like a bargain car. Aside from the great fastback exterior, Josephine's Demon has an inviting dark blue interior with split bench seats featuring the high integral head restraints. The salesman's book for 1972 states that the foam seat pad was molded right into the seat frame which made the seatbacks thinner, thus creating more legroom for rear passengers.

72 demon Josephine front seat

The split bench alone transports the interior away from the spartan bench seat strippo look of many Valiants and Darts.

72 demon josephine driver seat

The floor has a pebbled vinyl mat instead of carpeting, but it takes a few minutes to realize that the car is not carpeted. The headliner is actually a one piece fiberboard insert instead of the typical headliner encountered in this era which usually consists of material held tight by rods which divide it up into sections.

72 demon josephine headliner

Unless you examine the details the interior effect is one of a decent car and not a stripped down econo box. The original 1965 Ford Mustang did a better job of providing a truly stylish and sporty economical car at a low price, but this hot looking Demon comes pretty close. The bodylines provide drama like the early Mustang and the interior does have some good design while maintaining economy of purchase and operation. The utilitarian base is more evident in the Demon than a Mustang with its round dials and bucket seats, but that split bench makes a world of difference to the Demon when contrasted to a low back bench seat Valiant.

72 demon josephine driver dash

Chrysler and Ford always had a toe up on GM when it came to instrumentation. Even the top GM models at this time like Cadillac and Buick frequently had nothing but a speedometer and fuel gauge supplemented with idiot lights.

72 demon josephine gauges

Admittedly GM provided full instrumentation in the Corvette and the Trans Am but over at Chrysler you didn't have to buy a scorcher to get gauges. Even the lowliest Valiant always gave you temperature and amps in addition to speed and fuel.

The VIN decodes as follows:

L= Dart or Demon
L= Low Price Class
29= Two Door Sports Hardtop
C= 225- 1 barrel six cylinder engine
2= 1972 Model year
B= Hamtramck, Michigan final assembly plant.

The final digit sequence is not shown here to protect owner privacy. For the same reason the sequence is edited out of the fender tag shown below.

72 demon josephine fender tag

The tag is read from the bottom left to the top.

E24= 225 c.i. 1 barrel (145 HP gross)

D34= Light duty automatic transmission

LL29= Dodge Dart Demon low price class 2 door sports hardtop

C2B= 225 c.i. 1 barrel (110 HP net)

Sequence number is blanked out for owner privacy

2nd line

HB1= Powder Blue exterior paint

D285= Trim level- luxury/ Blue vinyl bench seat

G85= Bright Blue Poly interior (door frames)

824= August 24, 1971 build date

160500= Order number

3rd line

HB1= Powder Blue top color

U= USA Specifications

G15= Tinted windshield

J25= 3 Speed wipers

M31= Belt moldings

END= End of codes

The build sheet below has the sequential VIN number taken out but otherwise is complete. The marks from the springs make it a bit tricky to read in portions.

72 demon josephine build sheet

The sheet tells us about the parts used on the car. Much of the paint and other codes repeat and confirm what was uncovered through the trim tag. The build sheet adds the axle code which is 51 plus a code 176 further down. Other codes are radiator which is 48, alternator 03, Fan 07, battery 51, carburetor 63. Wheels are 45 and TX9 color. Wheel covers are code 60. The code for radio is blank: the car was built without a radio. A code 15 mirror and code 1 trim belt line appears.

Josephine noted that the bright chrome trim strip was missing from the driver's rain gutter. It was present on the passenger side. This was typical of the Chrysler factories of this time period. The guy on the passenger side was more conscientious or quick than the guy working on the driver's side. POPULAR MECHANICS March 1970 ran an Owner's Report on the 1970 Valiant Duster contained complaints about sloppy door moldings and missing weatherstripping so this was not an isolated case.

Hope appeared in the mailbox. The dealership followup letter states the dealer's intention to "..do our best to see that you continue to be pleased.."

72 demon josephine dealer letter

Despite this encouraging form letter sent to her from the dealership Josephine's campaign to have that missing trim ordered and installed on her freshly delivered car was fruitless. She may have won the price wrestling portion of the new car buying experience but she couldn't penetrate the post sales vanishing act salesmen are such experts at. To this day the Demon has no trim on the driver's side. This may have been an issue for Chrysler itself to deal with through warranty, but 40 years down the line hindsight doesn't replace the missing piece of trim.

72 demon josephine warranty

Josephine had better luck with the USA government. Chrysler sent her a letter informing her that she was entitled to a refund of the excise tax. Vehicles purchased between August 16, 1971 and December 10, 1971 were eligible for the refund.

72 demon josephine excise tax refund

Josephine used the Demon for errands to the mall and so on, but right from the start she took exceptional care of her Demon. It was never driven in the rain which makes driving an infrequent occurrence in perennially wet Seattle. The car was always garaged and suffered no rust after 41 years of ownership.

The only driving accident suffered came early in the life of the car. Another driver hit the driver's door which had to be removed for repair and repaint.

No smoke got inside Josephine's car. There is just a blank hole stamped in the metal to the left of the ashtray where a cigarette lighter would normally be installed. Talk about a 'stripped car'! The ashtray is factory clean having never been used.

72 demon josephine ashtray

Josephine stowed a homemade emergency kit in the trunk. The first aid box had bandages, flares and other items packed in it. None of it was ever used.

Aside from no roadside medical emergencies, there were no break-ins either. All the glass is original including the windshield. Typical of Mopars the base of the windshield above the dash has some fogging. Josephine did have some minor mishaps with her Demon. She hit a canoe in her garage and some minor touch-up paint was applied to the hood. Various parking maneuvers were unsuccessful necessitating some touch up paint, but the majority of the paint is factory original.

72 demon josephine stereo

As the 1970s unwound, Josephine was unable to resist the ubiquitous stereo players. The radio delete block off plate was removed and an aftermarket stereo installed. Two speakers were installed in the rear package tray. Otherwise no modifications were ever made to the Demon.

All other work done was strictly regular maintenance. Everything still works. The windshield washer works which is unusual in older cars and more amazing is the buzzer that alerts you that the keys are in the ignition if the driver's door is opened. The interior is in great shape for a car with 70,000 miles. The passenger lock grommet is missing, the driver's seat latch release cover is a bit loose and there are slight stains just below the pedals in the rubber floor mat. At some point in the history of the car Josephine kept flat clear rubber floor mats overtop of the factory floor covering. The pedals don't show wear and the high beam floor button isn't mashed up like so many of these are.

72 demon josephine pedals

The brake master cylinder has been replaced twice and a remanufactured carburetor was installed. The original exhaust tail pipe hangers were re-used on a new exhaust system. The bias ply spare tire was originally used in rotation with the other four tires to prolong tire life. When a switch was made to radial tires, the old bias ply spare was retained and no longer used in the tire rotation sequence.

One original wheel was lost when an unscrupulous tow truck driver called to the scene of a flat tire simply switched the entire wheel on the spot with one he had on hand and charged extra. The front passenger rim was at one time a red wheel painted over with black. Josephine tried to retrieve her original wheel to no avail.

In 2000 the Demon insurance ran out and the car was kept registered but no longer driven regularly. In 2013 Josephine was getting on and no longer able to drive. Through the years, an avid Mopar fan had been tracking this car. He sent out regular inquiries to buy the car over a seven year period. When Josephine's brother in law put her house up for sale in 2013, it was time for the car to go as well. Josephine admitted the car had to go now that she could no longer drive it and didn't have storage for it. She was very upset that the car was driven away during rain. The car had never seen rain prior to this day in April, 2013 when the car changed hands. Josephine owned the Demon for 41 years and 5 months.

72 demon josephine R


Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 March 2021 14:29 )