Marathon, Wisconsin, native, Ryan Kage, dedicated his '72 Dart Swinger build to his best friend, Ben Koppa, who died in a car accident. Ryan used the car to keep his mind off the tragedy and decided it was only fitting to build the car in remembrance of Ben.

Twenty-five-year-old Ryan has always been a big fan of Mopars. His Uncle Pat had always owned them (he currently owns a '71 Challenger convertible and a '68 Barracuda fastback, both four-speed cars). Ryan was finally able to purchase his very own Mopar when he was 23. He found this '72 Dart Swinger at the Mopars in the Park in Shakopee, Minnesota. It was an Arizona car, so it was basically rust-free and driveable, but not street worthy. He started gathering parts for it as soon as he got home because he didn't want to drive it until the car was painted and the drivetrain had been gone through.

But Ryan's life took an abrupt and unfortunate turn when his 23-year-old best friend, Ben, was killed in a car accident on July 29, 2006, less than 24 hours after Ryan let him drive the Dart. This really shook Ryan up, and the only way he found to deal with it was to focus on the restoration of his Dart.

That August, Ryan, with help from his uncle, tore into the car. He outsourced the machine work on the motor, transmission rebuild, and shortening of the driveshaft. when January rolled around, he had the A-Body down to bare metal. he removed the quarter-panels and trunk extensions and discovered that the wheelhouse areas were shot. There wasn't a reproduction part available at the time, so Pat fabricated one and it fit perfectly. All the new pieces were attached to the car by March, and then they began to prime and paint. Ryan was able to begin final assembly in May, but the process took longer than he expected.

The final product is this Omaha Orange Dart with 14-inch Rallye wheels. It's powered by a 318 that was bored .030 over. It received new pistons and a 268/272-duration, .450/.455-lift Mopar Performance camshaft. A Holley 4160 carburetor and Edelbrock Performer intake provide the air and fuel, and a Mopar electronic ignition controls the spark. The exhaust consists of Hooker Competition headers and a Summit Racing 21/2-inch dual exhaust with turbo mufflers.

The healthy setup was ready to fire up in late July 2007. The first ride came on July 28, 2007-one year to the day that Ben drove the car before his passing.

The restoration took Ryan and his uncle Pat 11 months, working nights and weekends. "I definitely learned a lot about restoration and why it takes so long. Everything takes twice as long and costs twice as much, too," Ryan says. The Dart is a memorial to his best friend and helped Ryan through a tough time.

Restoration Specialties & Supply of Windber, Pennsylvania, is one of the world's largest and most well-known mail-order suppliers of finishing hardware, clips, screws, fasteners, and weatherstripping for cars, trucks, street rods, and muscle machines. Started in 1974 as a small antique auto parts supplier, Restoration Specialties & Supply manufactures and markets a large variety of replacement window channel and belt weatherstrip kits under the brand name Topcat Whiskers. They also manufacture and carry a full line of weatherstrip packages for the Mopar enthusiast.

For more information, to order a catalog, or place an order, call 814/467-9842 or visit their web site,

Do You Feel Lucky?
Do you want to see your Mopar here? Do you want to be immortalized as a Mopar Muscle Young Gun? Is your car the nastiest thing on four wheels at your high school or college? Then send in your entry to, or to Mopar Muscle, Young Guns, 9036 Brittany Way, Tampa, FL 33619. Here's all you need to do: Send us some photos of you and your car, a description of your car, what you have done to it, and future plans for it. Be sure to include contact information and current e-mail address. Good luck!