There are two kinds of Rare Finds: ones you know about and finally get, and ones that find you, and it's a surprise. Sometimes the owner doesn't know a Hemi from a Slant Six, and he sells the car cheap.
Joe Wetmore of Arlington, Texas, wanted a Dart GTS. he sold his beloved Mopar-a numbers-matching '68 Dart GTS-after tying the knot in 1989 when family matters became a priority.
"I've regretted it ever since," Joe says. So, he put an ad on three different Internet sites searching for a replacement.
Before chasing a specific car, production numbers and history are useful to understand the challenge ahead. Joe tells us, "The GTS was built for only three model years, 1967 to 1969. The '67 came with the 383, joined by the 340 in 1968, and the 440 in 1969." Joe went to the Dart GTS Registry on the Internet (http://www.geocities.com/gtsreg/) for production numbers. The first year, production ended with 457 in hardtop and convertible versions. Production jumped to 8,745 in 1968 and 6,285 for 1969. So the GTS was built in sufficient numbers. Attrition rates are unknown, which is where the registry is useful.
Joe placed want ads on various Internet sites, including Moparts.com, Scatpack.com and Moparforever.com. He got a lot of responses, some from Canada, some with pictures, and some of rust buckets.
"A couple guys sent e-mails of '69s, but I was looking for a '68. I really wanted a true GTS car. Joe Mills from Alabama contacted me, and said he had a GTS and sent me a picture of it."
This GTS, a '69 model, apparently fulfilled Joe's parameters of the "rolling project car" he wanted. He wrote, "The glass was good, the interior was there, it had minimal rust, and a clear title."
The 340 and the TorqueFlite were gone, as was the hood that had been sucked into the air and wrapped around a tree by a tornado. The passenger door was also pulled off and pushed into the ground. One good thing about buying from an enthusiast is they want to see their treasure go to another enthusiast who will restore it. Still, price was an issue, but they made a deal at $1,500. Joe hooked his trailer to his pickup and drove to Alabama to buy the GTS.
Upon closer inspection, he noticed a few problems. First, the torsion bars were missing, the lower control arms were welded to the K-frame, the trunk was rusted out, and the seats were from a Duster. However, the car was solid, and Joe considered it a good buy. The floorboards were still solid, except for a quarter-inch rust hole in the front passenger side. So Joe purchased another K-frame, torsion bars, and lower control arms, and the problem was solved.
Joe contacted Galen Govier and was shocked to learn that his '69 Dart GTS was built on the first day of production, August, 1, 1968. It is also the earliest of 50 Hamtramck-built cars in Govier's registry.
Joe told us, "This was exciting news for me. I'm looking for the original 340. It may be out there to be found with help of the Internet. My GTS came equipped with a 340, 727, A/C and power steering."
Have you just found a Rare Find? Do you want us to show it off for you in the pages of Mopar Muscle Magazine? Send all the pertinent information along with a couple images of your find, and we'll make you famous. Send your Rare Finds to; firstname.lastname@example.org; or snail mail your info to Mopar Muscle Magazine, Rare Finds, 9036 Brittany Way, Tampa, FL 33619