There are days that start out as just a good day, and end up becoming a great day. For Chris Holley, the following is about one of those days. After a day of teaching his automotive classes at Pennsylvania College of Technology (Penn College), he returned to his office. While checking email, there was one from his boss with the subject; 67 or 68 Duster. To say that caught his attention is a bit of an understatement. He opened the email to find that a 1968 graduate of Williamsport Area Community College (predecessor of Penn College), had an old car that he believed to be a 1967 Duster that he wanted to donate to the Automotive Restoration program at the college. Now Chris is a Mopar guy, and knows that Dusters weren't built in 1967, but since the gentleman and the car resided within five miles of the campus, he felt this would be worth a visit.
After a series of phone calls with the owner, Chris established that the car was some type of Dodge from the 1960s. The owner told him that the car had been purchased by his aunt in 1973 from Van Campen Chrysler/Plymouth in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The first owner purchased the car new from the same dealer, and had traded the car for a new 1973 model. As his aunt aged, a few minor accidents occurred with the car, so she gave up driving. At this time, she gave the car to her sister; the mother of the current owner. The owner's mother used the car very little, and when she died, the car was inherited by the current owner. Due to lack of interest in the car, it was parked in the yard between an old garage and an alley. The car was stored in the elements like this for more than seven years.
When it came time to check out the car, Chris drove to the house in his '75 Dart. Chris noticed that the car was sunk into the dirt, and had four flat tires. What Chris found was a bronze, two-door Dart, with a weathered white vinyl top and white interior. The only things missing were the gas cap, and the one-year-only windshield trim. When he opened the hood, sure enough, a trusty 225 Slant Six was connected to a 904. It was all factory original, except the point's-style regulator that was a Sears, Roebuck, and Co. replacement part. As could be expected, the car has power steering and manual drum brakes.
Chris slid in behind the steering wheel, and the odometer read just a few clicks under 23,000 miles, which the owner acknowledged was the original mileage. The interior looked really nice for a car that sat in the elements for over seven years.
Engine: The engine didn’t look bad from the outside—how bad could it be?
Interior: The interior is in amazing shape considering its lack of care over the last seve
Mileage: Yep, that’s correct.
Once the Dart was delivered to the campus, it received a much needed washing and a good going over. It was determined that the years of storage in the elements had really hurt the mechanicals, the engine was seized, the radiator leaked, the gas tank leaked, the tires were shot, and the master cylinder and brake lines had suffered water and rust damage. There were also some rust concerns of the lower body panels but nothing too major.
The plans are to get the engine torn down, machined and rebuilt, as well as rebuilding the transmission, the 71⁄4 rear end, brakes, and suspension. The Dart will also need new tires, new fuel lines, and brake lines. Once the Dart's drivetrain is rebuilt, the class will evaluate various ignition timing loops, coils and modules, evaluate carburetion and jetting (Holley 1920 1bbl, Carter BBD 2bbl, and Holley 390 4bbl). They'll also evaluate different types of air filter elements, test exhaust components, play with valve lash-adjustment, and test electric fans and water pump drives, all while trying to maintain some semblance of driveability.