If you were traveling to sunny California to visit family and go to the boat races in Long Beach, would you be expecting to buy a car and take it home? Neither did Don Pritchard or his wife. But, that would all change when Alane (Don's wife), noticed a '66 Dart from the bleachers, and it was for sale. She was persistent enough, that she coaxed Don out of his seat to go look at it. At the time, Don was more interested in street rods, but the Dart was in good shape, and since Alane wanted the car, you guys know what happened next.
After talking to a friend about the car while continuing to watch the boat races, Don decided to buy it, and the deal was struck. Don planned to simply enjoy the car as a driver, but as you guys know, the best laid plans...
'I drove the motorhome across the desert—it has air conditioning. My wife drove the Dart, it didn't.' —Don Pritchard
Since Don and his wife lived in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and they had driven their motorhome to the races, they needed to figure out how they would get the Dart home. Since Alane wasn't comfortable driving the motorhome, she got the "privilege" of driving the Dart home. Did we mention that it gets hot while driving across the desert? Did we also forget to mention that the Dart didn't have air conditioning? Sorry Alane, but you did pick the car.
During the drive home—while Don was in the air conditioned motorhome, he began to devise a plan to hot rod the Dart. Before they had even gotten home, he had decided that an engine upgrade was in order. So he had Tri Tech Motors of Lake Havasu City, replace the original engine with a new "crate engine" from Arrington Performance. While at Tri Tech, the guys noticed that the car needed more work to suit Don.
Interior: Where to begin? The interior of the dart screams cool, and not just because of t
Engine: Underneath the cold-air fed air cleaner is a 6.1 Hemi with dual quads, and a real,
Wheels: Classic looks, handling, and the ability to stop on a dime.
While the engine and drivetrain were out, the body was sent to Frank's Custom and Collision in Lake Havasu City. According to Don—and the photos, Frank's did an excellent job. From there, Howard's Auto Upholstery got the nod to refinish the car's interior.
Once the body and interior were finished, it was back to Tri tech for the drivetrain install. It took about three years to complete the project that was destined to be "just a driver", but now, Don and Alane have an A-Body that definitely gets an A+.
'66 Dodge Dart
Don and Alane Pritchard
LeLand, North Carolina, by way of Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Engine: Powering the small A-Body is an Arrington/Shophemi.com crate 6.1 Hemi. Don added an Arrington "Chip Killer," which eliminates the computer, and adds a distributor for the ignition. Also, a Milodon oiling system and an Edelbrock dual-quad intake works with two Edelbrock 500 cfm carburetors.
Transmission: An Art Carr built 727 with a 10-inch converter is fitted to the Hemi.
Rear: A Strange-built rear with a Sure Grip and a 3.50 gear moves the Dart along just nicely.
Suspension: The front suspension is a Magnumforce tubular unit with coil overs. The rear is hung by a Morrison four link and coil overs.
Brakes: Wilwood discs on all four corners bring the dart to a quick halt.
Wheels/Tires: Nothing beats a classic American Racing five spoke. Wrap them in BFG radials, and you have a traditional combination.
Paint/Body: nothing stands out like a red car, and the Dupont Tornado Red was applied by Frank's Custom and Collision.
Interior: Howard's Auto Upholstery covered the seats and most of the interior with a light gray and charcoal leather, and trimmed it with a contrasting red. There's no radio, as you simply plug your iPod into the amp for tunes. Let's not forget that the air conditioning is another "cool" factor.