Street brutes. Most of us were not car restorers when we first became Mopar fans. Those stock rims, exhaust manifolds, and cast-iron intakes are hard to come by today because most ended up in the trash pile or as swap meet fodder for other purchases. Of course, like the car seen here, some of them were not much to speak of when it came to curbside appeal even when new, and fortification is a given.
By 1972, the days of 383 A-Body 'Cudas and 440 Darts were a distant memory. The factory's slim resources were being used for emissions research and safety designs, and big inches were just a footnote in the A-Body history. They were even gone from the sportier E-Body lineups. For the Scamp-a variant of the Valiant-six cylinders and 318s were the limit.
Gene Egan knows all about pavement pounding-he works as a paving supervisor for the city of Kingsport, Tennessee. In the 20 years he has been involved in performance car projects, he has owned Dusters, Darts, and Road Runners, and admits freely that he has owned Mopar project cars since he started driving. In 2001, he had a chance to buy this well-worn, but solid, Scamp and spent the next four years getting it together.
"My job keeps me pretty busy in the summer, so I was only able to seriously work on the car in the winter months," says the 41-year-old Gene. The leaning 225 Slant Six and 904 transmission had already come out years earlier when a local street racer had adapted a 440 to the car using small-block mounts and a torque chain! Gene's buddy Phil Helton of Kingsport, Tennessee, rebuilt the mill, which required the block to be cleaned up at .030-inch for a total displacement of 452 inches. Working on a budget, the package called for a set of factory 906 heads and the stock crankshaft. Onto this, Phil added 10.5:1 forged pistons, Hooker headers, a Mopar Purple Shaft cam, an Edelbrock Torker intake, and a 750 Holley double-pumper. Mopar also provided the ignition outfit.
Next, Phil began the fabrication to finally get the big engine properly into the Scamp. After the custom motor mounts were built and installed, an open-top air cleaner with a custom base and adjacent rubber seal under the hood created a true fresh-air package. This is fed fresh oxygen via a '73-'74 Dart Sport/Duster hoodscoop, a boundary layer divided example that was one of the most effective designs offered by any manufacturer on a street car back in the day.
The column-based shifter also went into the growing pile of discarded parts, replaced by a Pistol Grip coming through the floor. The unit it is connected to is a standard A833 crashbox, with four forward gears and a lightweight Centerforce clutch and flywheel combination connected to the new pedal under Gene's left foot. An 83/4 differential with a 3.55 gear and Sure Grip finish it off. Phil also did all the custom wiring to make it work.
OK, so now the car had a bite, what would be its visual bark? Gene had Darrell Mullins do the bodywork. When it came time to lay down the paint, the color selected was a raw-meat-red-looking Garnet Red Pearl from Sikkens. After the basecoat/clearcoat was on the metal, the finishing touch was some lettering and graphics by Jim Caswell, including a humorous little terrier that has nothing to do with the voracious appetite a 440 A-Body has for brand-X victims, curbside fear, and gasoline. A Go Wing pedestal mounted to the rear deck was the crowning touch.
With so much weight on the nose and a personal penchant for cruising rather than simply hammering in a straight line and holding on for dear life, Gene upgraded the suspension with pieces such as four-wheel disc brakes, Monroe shocks all the way around, Cragar rims with custom Pentastar center caps, Cooper tires, and an integrated sway bar. Phil came back as the point man to install polyurethane bushings wherever they could be used on the suspension.
Using 14-inch wheels on the...
Using 14-inch wheels on the front and 15-inchers on the rear gives the Dart just the right stance.
The interior is far from stock,...
The interior is far from stock, with a Grant Steering wheel, plush seats, and a Hurst Pistol-Grip shifter.
Since a four-speed was transplanted...
Since a four-speed was transplanted into the Scamp, a shifter was also needed-a '71-'74 B-Body non-console shifter fits nicely.