The turbulence of 1967 was seen by some as an awakening and by others as a curse. The nation became more divided than ever that year, with a rising social liberalism associated with free love, recreational drugs, and rebellion to traditions offset by a firm desire by others to hold to core values of liberty, sacrifice, and honor. Coupled with racial discord, the period created a rift that has never been fully rectified, echoing down to the present, nearly a half-century later.
Nonetheless, that same era was the crucible for American muscle car technology, a pushing of the envelope away from AMC President George Romney's stated ideals of practical engineering to a stance of horsepower, aggressive styling, and performance marketing. As a result, when the newly-redesigned Dart appeared in showrooms late in 1966, it bore only a mild resemblance to the 1964-1966 A-Body models that had been the cornerstone of the line's economy-minded buyers. In other words, it had become a player.
The overall body lines were crisper, and the car appeared wider and longer from every angle. At the top of the Dart model line was the GTS, for Gran Turismo (Grand Touring) Sport, with upscale trim, and, for the first time, a factory engine larger than the LA-series 273. If you knew how to order it, a tight-fitting 383 four-barrel engine could be settled down between the front fenders. Coupled with the bucket seats, optional console, and trim befitting the changes, that Dart became a bonefide muscle car. The GT package was in between this model and the base Dart design.
Kingman, Arizona, is on the nation's longest surviving stretch of old Route 66, and is considered a gateway into the Grand Canyon. It is also where Glenn and Vicki Hoag chose to live after Glenn retired from Chrysler. He had owned a couple of Darts back in the late-1960s/early-'70s, and Vicki had wanted a Mopar convertible, so this car was the result of a three-year search that finally ended back in 1999. The 1967 turned up in a barn near Chelsea, Michigan, and was sans GT package or driveline, so the steel shell was more like unformed sculpture, and put to automotive reuse in the finest Frederick Remington tradition.
"We modified it with a Southwest theme, and some hot rod components," says Glenn. "We call it our muscle rod."
The Hoag's chose custom Sunfire Orange interior material, trimmed with tooled door panels. A digital Dakota dash was added, as was an Ididit tilt column and custom steering wheel. To enjoy the corners, Super Stock torsion bars work in conjunction with a Unisteer rack-and-pinion layout, with 113⁄4-inch front discs and the rear drums bringing it down to safe speeds.
And that was a good idea, because what ended up under the hood was a ‘bigger than Texas' RB mill that has been assembled by Lou Mancini (yep, of Mancini Racing fame). With 493-inches on tap, valves actuated by one of Dave Hughes' hydraulic cams, and tti headers handling the exhaust, the Dart will fly. Behind this engine—for the sake of fuel sanity—went an overdriven A41 automatic transmission, and 3.23 Sure Grip ring.
The sound is unmistakable, but what is even more impressive were the visible touches like shaved door handles, custom rocker-panel moldings, Rally side mirrors, and a modified fuel filler door. A 1969-vintage performance hood gives the car an even more distinct appearance from OE. That custom metallic copper paint, perfect for the Southwest idea, also came from a Michigan source, Mike Miske of CMC Collision Center in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. Mike also added a pearl coat rear Scat stripe as part of the refined combination.
For Mopar fans, 1967 is considered a great year. After all, the GTX and R/T came into being, as did the redone Dart and the fresh Barracuda. Richard Petty was winning in NASCAR. Ed Miller won the first NHRA Super Stock world championship, and the future was looking bright indeed. To ones who remember, the Hoag's combined tribute to both wide open spaces and Mopar's drop-top heritage notches another mark for "the good guys in the white hats" from that eventful year.
1967 Dodge Dart GTS Custom
Owners: Glenn and Vicki Hoag, Kingman, Arizona
According to the engineers at Chrysler, a 440 was never designed to be installed in a ’67
Engine: The great Lou Mancini of Mancini Racing fame gets credit for the all-iron lung, which hit 493 cubes courtesy of a stroker bottom end, and a .060-inch overbore on the 440 block. Among the goodies are a cam kit from Hughes Engines, Edelbrock 750-cfm carburetor on an engine-colored Offenhauser dual-plane intake, Mopar electronic ignition and tti headers. For chill factor, a Vintage Air A/C outfit was used, and the engine was dressed in a ‘mucho caliente' Hemi Orange, beautifully offset by the copper body color.
Transmission: Adding one gear to the combination meant reasonable attempts at fuel mileage. An A41 transmission by the now defunct Keisler Engineering was selected for the combination.
Differential: An 83⁄4 Sure Grip-equipped housing spins the rear wheels with a 3.23 highway star gear. Moroso axles finish it off.
Suspension: Biggest change was adding a Unisteer power rack-and-pinion. Super Stock rear springs keep the backend up, with Super Stock torsion bars up front.
Brakes: Wilwood brakes set up in all four corners as well, using a Hydratech booster and MBM master cylinder. Factory drums in the back, with well-performing 113⁄4-inch front discs under the nose.
Wheels: Careful choice here was a 15-inch Stockton rim design, with rubber selected as 215R60s on the front spindles and 235R60s off the rear hubs.
Body: Mike Miske came in for this part of the job; the panel work is near-flawless on this project. There are many small touches that are noticed as you look— no door handles, rally mirrors and cool rocker panel changes to start.
Paint: CMC Custom Collision, which Mike founded, was also where the copper metallic final color, with ghosted stripes and pearl coat finish, turned the car into a southwestern tribute.
Interior: Lots of detail here as well—vinyl coverings look like tooled leather, the front seat is a split bench for close personal space. A Blaupunkt stereo system is also part of the mix.