The year was 1972, and street racers everywhere knew that factory performance cars were a dying breed. The coffin was nailed down tight by ever-increasing federal emission requirements and insurance company mandates. Compression ratios dropped like a rock, and carburetors were re-tuned for clean air rather than rocket-like performance.
Apparently, “Mr. Norm” didn’t get the memo. Case in point was the 1972 Demon GSS, arguably the fastest production vehicle for that year. Norm Kraus, aka Mr. Norm, was responsible for causing much of the muscle car mayhem during the late ’60s and early ’70s. His Dodge dealership at the corner of Grand and Spaulding in Chicago produced some of the fastest American iron in history.
Norm’s first attempt to upstage factory muscle cars began when he dropped a 383 in a lightweight 1967 Dodge Dart. That mix became the prototype for the production Dart GTS. A year later Norm was at it again, dropping a 440 in a 1968 Dart. Chrysler’s Dodge division saw the light and followed with the 440 Dart GTS. In 1971, Norm began topping 340 Darts with a six-pack of carbs, marketing it as the Demon GSS.
By 1972, many new car dealers began closing their performance departments. But not Mr. Norm: he was busy introducing the supercharged 1972 Demon GSS. The previous year’s GSS six-pack induction system was replaced with a Paxton centrifugal blower that bumped up horsepower to 360 from the stock 240, the highest rating of any domestic vehicle for 1972. Incredibly, the GSS package had a sticker price of only $3,595, and Mr. Norm claimed to have 100 in stock ready for delivery.
The GSS began as a base 340 Dart. The package added the supercharger, oversize pulleys, modified fuel pump and pressure regulator, competition oil pump, heavy-duty valve spring retainers and Sure Grip 3:55 ratio rear axle. Every GSS had its distributor curve adjusted, and its carburetor recalibrated and re-jetted. Before delivery, the car was dyno-tuned and Sun-Scoped. Transmission choices included a four-speed manual or heavy-duty TorqueFlite.
Customers could order the GSS as a plain vanilla bench seat sleeper with little externally to identify it as a muscle car, or as an in your face factory hot rod with twin functional hood scoops, 8,000-rpm, hood-mounted tach, bold body side striping and rally wheels. Headers were also available. All received a multi-colored “Demon 340” emblem on the front fender. Buyers could add high-back bucket seats and center console for a sportier look and added comfort.
Because detailed dealership records weren’t kept, it’s impossible to know exactly how many GSS’s were sold or remain today. Enthusiasts have Mr. Norm to thank for keeping the flame alive during the dark days of the early 1970s, for it was the Demon GSS that was left stoking the fire. Ultimately, 1972 was the end of the road for Mr. Norm’s performance packages as Grand Spaulding Dodge began cashing in on the ever-increasing van market. And while Norm Kraus sold his ownership in Grand Spaulding Dodge in 1977, his legacy lives on today in cars like the Demon GSS.
Fuel For Thought Supercharger inlet wording said “Mr. Norms Supercharged GSS” Grand Spaulding Dodge became the number one volume Dodge dealership in the world Mid-year, Mr. Norm began installing smaller pulleys to increase boost TorqueFlite trans better matched the GSS power curve
Specifications Number built – N/A Construction – Unibody Engine – 340 cubic-inch, supercharged V-8 Power/Torque – 340 cubic-inch V-8, 360 horsepower, N/A torque Transmissions – Four-speed manual, three-speed auto Suspension front – Independent, lateral nonparallel control arms with torsion bars Suspension rear – Longitudinal leaf springs with live axle Steering – Re-circulating ball and nut Brakes – 10-inch drum, optional 11-inch front disc Length/width/height – 192.5/71.7/53.1 inches Wheelbase – 108 inches Weight – 3,205 lbs. 0-60mph/quarter mile – 5.6 seconds, 13.9 seconds at 106 mph Top speed – 125 est. MPG – 12 - 17 mpg Price – MSRP - $3,595; Today – $21,000 - $41,900
Insurance cost Insurance cost is $293/year for a $33,000 1972 Dodge Demon GSS. This is based on 3,000 miles per year of pleasure driving. *Based on a quote from Heacock Classic Car Insurance, www.heacockclassic.com
Engine – Chrysler’s 340 engine was designed for high performance. Its large-journal forged crankshaft was meant for abuse. A large Carter Thermoquad carb sat atop a high-rise dual plane intake. Heads flowed freely with 2.02-inch intake and 1.60-inch exhaust valves. Other heavy-duty parts included a double roller timing chain and windage tray.
Handling – Handling was typical for a Mopar A-Body, giving moderate lean in corners and a relatively smooth highway ride.
Alternative 1972 Pontiac Firebird Number built– 29,951 0-60/quarter mile – 9.9 seconds, 17.6 seconds at 77 mph Top speed – 112 mph est. Price – MSRP - $3,221; Today – $6,325 - $24,300
Alternative 1972 Nova SS Number built– N/A 0-60/quarter mile – 8.4 seconds, 15.5 seconds at 88 mph Top speed – 115 mph est. Price – MSRP - N/A; Today – $5,525 - $14,350
Strong Points Blinding acceleration Rarity Top-notch sleeper Appreciating value
Weak Points Limited aftermarket Difficult to authenticate Unknown to many enthusiasts Expensive to purchase
Vehicle Category Due to the rarity of the Demon GSS, many are trailered to events.
What To Pay 1972 Dodge Demon GSS MSRP – $3,595 Low – $21,000 Average – $33,000 High – $41,900 *Based on prices from the Classic Cars and Parts Price Guide, fueled by NADA and available wherever Classic Cars and Parts magazines are sold.
Parts Prices Front valance panel $229.00 Left/right inner wheelhouse panel $295.00 Fuel gauge $99.00 “Demon” fender emblem $35.95 Front door panels $279.00 *Based on information from Year One Inc. 800-932-7663 www.yearone.com
Books Dodge Dart and Plymouth Dusterby Steve Statham Chrysler Muscle Parts Interchange Manual 1968-1974by Paul Herd Dodge and Plymouth Muscle Car Red Bookby Peter C. Sessler Mopar Muscle: Fifty Yearsby Robert Genat The Complete Book of Dodge and Plymouth Muscleby Mike Mueller
Review The Dodge Demon GSS was the last vestige in performance cars for quite awhile. Through the efforts of Mr. Norm, this iconic automobile went out with both barrels blasting. It would take years before its performance was once again matched and it took a Corvette to do it.