Fortune-telling gypsies and psychics can't get it right all the time, so why should Mopar guys be any different? Most every project build starts off with a plan of execution, a rough budget, nebulous final projections, and some semblance of a final theme, but what most of us fail to plan for is life. Simply put, life gets in the way of our best laid plans. we try to find time on the weekends and after work to tool on our musclecars. outsiders scratch their heads when we tell them how our car build will likely span several years, but, frankly, Overhaulin' is not reality. Most car enthusiasts can't just piece together their dream Mopar in the span of a week.
In July 1989, 19-year-old Joe Theriault purchased this '70 Dodge Dart 340 with plans for a stout cruiser. Originally powered by a small-block with a four-speed, the Dodge left the plant coated in Plum Crazy Purple paint, a white tail stripe, and a white vinyl top. But by the time they got it, Joe's Dart had lost its A833 gearbox and was using a rough-and-tumble 727 TorqueFlite with a reverse manual valvebody and high-stall torque converter. The rear gears had been swapped for gritty street racer 4.56s, helping give the rolling package a formidable street presence. The numbers-matching 340 and four-speed had been replaced with a meaner plant by the original owner. By winter of that year, Joe's father, Paul, had helped his son strip the street racer down for an intended restoration. Since the car was not a dedicated daily driver, the Swinger would remain in the garage until completed. Unfortunately, it would take longer than either of them estimated.
Paul canned the temperamental small-block when it started giving him internal problems. In
Wanting to return the purple Dart to its factory appearance, but retain most of its coarse racer characteristics, the Theriault men took the Dodge down to a mere shell. Nearly twenty years old at the time of the build, the Dart was in need of rear quarters. they contacted Auto Body Specialties, which informed them that the panels might take up to two years to arrive. the A-Body was pushed back on the priority list, while parts were gathered, other projects were tackled, and leads were made for the future of the Dart. Delayed but not deterred, the Theriaults waited the two years for those quarters, and after their arrival, they wheeled the Dodge over to Ray Morin at Ray's Auto Specialty in South Hadley, Massachusetts, for the bodywork duties. Unfortunately, life again got in the way, and when Ray had to handle some unexpected personal business, work was delayed on the Dart for another two years.
With the body straight but devoid of paint, the rough and dismantled A-Body came back home, a long and disheartening five years since its disassembly. With his hopes of a quick restoration thoroughly deflated, Joe put the Dodge up for sale. The project had just eaten up too much time, money, and effort with little result. Many friends and associates expressed interest in the Dodge, but nobody came through.
Paul says, "You know how that goes, nobody wants to give you any kind of money when the car is all apart." Sad to see his son so disenchanted with their father-and-son project, Paul volunteered to take the Dodge on as his own and finish the project. Joe happily handed the keys over to his father.