It's a story we've all heard, or in some cases, lived. That one car we had that we wished was still around. For Detroit-area native Tim Sobolewski, the car in question was something most of us would still give our proverbial eye teeth for-an M-code 440-powered '69 Dart.
Tim acquired the car in late 1974 when he was 17, paying a mere $750 for the beast, which sported only 9,800 miles at the time. His father was understandably cautious about sending the lad into the wilds of the Motor City with this package, so Tim didn't get to title or drive the rare Camaro-killer until it was officially his in February 1975 when he turned 18.
Similar to the Hurst-built cars (without the lightweight parts), M-code A-Bodies were, frankly, very impractical as transportation-there's nothing like nose-heavy handling on a dark, rainy road with manual drum brakes. Tim now admits the car was more of a headache than a collector's item, but he spent the summer of 1975 cruising Detroit's fabled Gratiot Avenue in his A-Bomb, until his girlfriend convinced him to sell it in the fall of the same year. His friend Rick Leju bought the car. But shortly thereafter, the new owner was again without wheels-the Dart was stolen by parties unknown and was never seen again.
Fast forward to September 1997. Now employed in the Detroit gauging and machine tool industry, Tim was attending a Goodguys show at Meadowbrook and was looking to buy another Dart. Show participant Mike Signorello had this clean '67 Dart GT on display, so the two men talked for awhile. When Tim made it known he was hoping to purchase a Dart, Mike made the mistake of admitting he might be persuaded to let his GT go. Tim discussed it with his wife, Sheila, who gave her A-OK (good save, Tim) and soon afterward, he went and claimed his prize. A deal's a deal, but Tim remembers he almost had to pry the keys out of Mike's hand. Looking at the car, who can blame him?
Truth be told, Tim's ride came to him in basically the condition seen here, so he credits Mike with the craftsmanship. Mike straightened the sheetmetal, added a fiberglass hood and bumpers, and then covered everything in PPG Bright Red. The interior has been upgraded withupholstered fiberglass bucket seats and a brace of aftermarket gauges, while a big, 5-inch tach keeps the engine in check. Since the car sees a lot of street duty, a Jensen stereo system was installed to kick out the jams. A six-point rollcage keeps the occupants safe.
Like the M-code car, a 440 is under the hood-this one a '67 high performance version filled with a massaged OEM reciprocating assembly sporting 10.25:1 pistons. The factory heads were given a good porting and polishing. Tim plays his cards close to the chest in terms of cam information-it sounds nasty though. A complete MSD ignition lights the fuel fed from a Holley 750 carb on a single-plane intake, while a set of Hooker Super Competition headers routed through the fenderwells take care of the back-end of the combustion cycle. Transferring the power to a 4.10-filled 8 3/4 rear is a worked 727 transmission rowing through the gears with a Cheetah shifter and manual valvebody. In terms of street footprints, a pair of Mickey Thompson ET Street D.O.T.-approved slicks are mounted on the Cragar Five Star wheels in back, while twin 6.00x15 pre-recalled Firestones guide the nose straight ahead.
Compared to the factory monster, this custom-built machine is the hands-down champion. Tim says someday his son T.J. will probably end up with the car. T.J. turned 16 in 2001, and we have a feeling this Dart's glory days on Gratiot are not over yet.