What John and his buddies made happen was a bone-stock resto of that '69 GTS. Those of you who were there in 1969 know what a performer the GTS was, even with the air on.
If you look closely at the interior photos, you'll see one thing is missing: the factory AM/FM radio. "That radio wasn't in the car when I bought it, and I've yet to come up with a [correct factory] radio," John says of the one yet-to-be-completed phase of the project.
To keep his GTS in showroom-fresh condition, he's limited his driving of it, but when he does take it out, he enjoys it. He says, "As far as drivability goes, it drives like a brand-new car, hands-down. It shifts like a rocket!"
When asked if he will ever do another restoration, should he find another 340-powered '69 Dart that suits his fancy, John says, "I can't say I'll do another one soon, and there are better cars out there, but for doing it all ourselves, there's a lot of satisfaction there."
'69 Dodge Dart GTS Hardtop
John Schmitt, Decatur, IN
Engine: Stock 340ci LA-series Mopar small-block V-8, built at Chrysler's Mound Road Engine Plant, Detroit, Michigan, and rebuilt by owner and Chris Luginbill. Machine work by Decatur Engine Service, Decatur, Indiana.
Transmission: Stock 727 TorqueFlite automatic with console-mounted shifter.
Rearend: Stock 8-3/4 Sure Grip with 3.55 rear gears replacing the standard 3.23 set.
Exhaust: Original cast-iron 340 manifolds, with reproduction exhaust system by Accurate LTD and N.O.S. chrome exhaust tips.
Power & Performance: Advertised horsepower: 275 at 5,000 rpm. Advertised torque: 340 lb-ft at 3,200 rpm.
Frame: Same as used on production Dart GTS hardtops; no aftermarket or hand-fabricated pieces used.
Suspension: (Front) stock longitudinal torsion bars; (rear) stock asymmetrical leaf springs.
Brakes: Stock system, power assisted. N.O.S. master cylinder and brake hardware used in restoration.
Wheels: For shows: stock 14x5-inch steel wheels and standard GTS full wheel covers (same as used on Coronet R/T and Charger R/T). As seen in this story: '70-vintage Mopar Rallye wheels, which fit the '69's "small" (5-lug, 4-inch) bolt pattern.
Rubber: (Show) Coker reproduction Firestone E70-14 redline tires. (As seen in story) BFGoodrich Radial T/A's, 205/70R14 RWL.
Body: Car was 95-percent rust-free at start of restoration. Exterior trim (headlight bezels, grille, rocker moldings) reconditioned by C+J Mopar Trim, Jackson, Michigan. N.O.S. parts used include right hood louver, GTS emblem on hood, front turn-signal assemblies, taillight lenses, and door frame weatherstrips. Reproduction parts include front/rear windshield gaskets, body gaskets, body info decals, fender-mounted GTS emblems, and hood pad insulation.
Paint: R6 Red, sprayed on by Joe Hebble, Decatur, Indiana. Metalwork and paint prep by owner.
Interior: Original bucket seats/console shifter retained and reconditioned. N.O.S. parts used include front armrests and chrome armrest bases. Three-spoke woodgrain steering wheel is an original unrestored one. Dashboard "chrome" trim vacuum metalized by CV Vacuum Platers, Sumas, Washington. Seat upholstery by Legendary Auto Interiors. Dashpad refinished by Just Dashes (also supplied vinyl dye to refinish other interior parts). Original Airtemp air-conditioner outlet located under dash. Additional restoration parts came from Fellwock's and Paul Jacob's (both Evansville, Indiana), Moparts.com, and eBay.com.