Many of the cars featured in this section of Mopar Muscle have a history, but most didn’t build that history at the racetrack. In fact, the vast majority of classic Mopars rarely saw any track time at all, as most of these cars were simply daily drivers or cruisers. This month’s Hidden Treasure is different, however, as it’s a ’66 Dodge Dart, which was first owned and tuned by Mopar’s “Mad Scientist” Ted Spehar, and driven by Ralph Costa.
Ted Spehar was somewhat famous around Detroit during the ’60s and into the ’70s, known as a meticulous engine builder with ties to factory-backed Mopar race teams. Ted also tuned cars for the Chrysler Corporation, including the now famous ’69½ Road Runner that Ronnie Sox took to a mid-12 second elapsed time during a Super Stock Magazine track test. Another project sent to Spehar by Chrysler is the car featured here, which was one of the approximately 50 D-Darts used for drag racing development. This car was featured in the May ’67 issue of Super Stock Magazine, and the article highlights the numerous modifications to both the car and the engine, which resulted in elapsed times deep in the 12-second range.
The D-Dart was originally co-owned by Ted Spehar and Ralph Costa, but at the end of the 1967 race season, Ralph let the car go to Ted, along with the payments. Ted then sold the car to its second owner, Jon Rasbach, who also raced it before eventually selling the car to Chrysler engineer Al Adam. After that sale, the car was modified slightly, but basically preserved in as-raced condition, and kept in Adam’s mother’s garage for more than 30 years.
Alan Hvizdos of Port St. Lucie, Florida, learned of the car and purchased it from Al Adam where it still sat in his mother’s garage showing only 367.1 miles on the odometer. Al had replaced the Keystones with a set of Rader wheels, and installed a Lakewood scatter-shield. Otherwise, the car is still in as-raced condition and still has the original Ted Spehar modified engine, which Al Adam rebuilt. Alan has researched the D-Dart with the help of Galen Govier, and believes it to be the first LO23 car produced.
Other than installing a Sun retro-tachometer and fuel pressure gauge, Alan has left the car pretty much alone, in order to preserve its racing heritage. This is the second D-Dart that Alan has owned, and he has no plans of selling this one.