As car enthusiasts go, you have to admit that most serious Mopar people are do-it-yourself types. Through hard experience and severe duty, we have all done our share of wrench-turning, a little tweaking, and the unforgettable "cuss-that-part-on" routine. There's a lot of satisfaction in being able to answer questions about your ride with, "Oh, that? I did it myself."
When Greg Anderson from the upper Midwestern town of Andover, Minnesota, decided he needed a new "free-time consumer," he settled on this '65 Dodge Dart he had located in Grand Forks, North Dakota. This was back in 1977. As bought, the car was already sporting a swapped-in 340/auto combination with a set of 4.30 gears in the back. Soon after, with the addition of a set of 1 7/8-inch headers and advancing the cam timing one tooth (that's how we did things back then), the Dart clocked a 13.36 in the quarter-not bad for a small-block street car. Of course, in the natural progression of things, he decided in 1980 to step up and rebuild his ride for some much quicker flight times.
Greg back-halved the car and then screwed together a fat 440 stroked out to 535 ci. To fit it into the diminutive engine bay, he built his own fenderwell headers, then installed a 727 trans with a 3,500-stall converter and clocked an 11.05 at 126. Feeling the Dodge was now too fast for the street, Greg added a tunnel-ram and new tires-which resulted in a respectable 10.50 at 129 mph in 1982-and a roller cam in 1984, which picked up the car by 0.3 seconds and 7 mph. But in 1986, it was back to the drawing board when the crankshaft gave up the ghost. The rebuild found a 4-inch long crankshaft back in the bottom end; 10.20s at 134 mph were the result. A pair of Indy iron 440-C heads were added in 1994, but the simple rollbar was no longer legal due to the modified firewall and the car's performance. And it was time for another rebuild.
The year 1995 brought about radical change. The bodywork was handled by Brad Moe, who also covered everything in acrylic enamel Orange Flame. The entire floor from the firewall to the back bumper was removed, and a new frame made of 2x3-inch, .125-inch-thick tubing was fabricated. A new front suspension was built using the factory upper and lower control arms with AFCO coilover shocks, while a Mustang II rack-and-pinion steering unit with 7 inches removed made sure the Dart went straight after launch. Out back, an Art Morrison ladder-bar kit supports the new Dana 60 rear, which was relocated 6 inches ahead of the stock location. For safety's sake, a full cage from Chassis Engineering was installed, along with extra tubing to make a complete X-brace chassis. The first pass in this configuration, utilizing a 475-inch stroker motor with the Indy heads on alcohol, netted Greg a 10.15 at 131 mph best, but, in typical gearhead fashion, Greg decided to build another motor.
The baseline is a 400 block, opened up to 4.375 inches and a 4.15-inch Mopar Performance crank for a true displacement of 499.1 cubes. Aluminum BME rods help the Wiseco flat-top pistons build the 14:1 compression under the Indy 440-1 aluminum heads, while an Ultradyne cam with .741 lift is in the center. The carb (basically constant-flow methanol injection) is by K.J. Crawford. Gary Schmidt of Wheeler Racing in Blaine, Minnesota, did the machining, with Greg doing the final assembly. Once again, he put together a set of custom headers as well.
Behind this monster is a 727 transmission, built by Greg and Leigh Vail, that uses a Lupo-built 5,200-stall converter. The Dana now sports a spool-spun 4.56 gear set, and Wilwood disc brakes are on all four corners to stop the Goodyear rotation. The spartan interior is all business with a single bucket seat, Auto Meter gauges, and the air-shifted B&M shifter. Rounding out the interior is aluminum carpeting and door panels.
With Greg's combination ready to fly, his first pass resulted in a huge wheelstand that removed paint from the rear and the front of the car. Wheelie bars were then installed for the next weekend. Greg has now netted a best of 9.39 at 143 mph in the quarter, but the real question remains: Is this scratch-built screamer finally finished? Only time will tell, even if Greg won't.