The Hooker fenderwell headers...
The Hooker fenderwell headers may not be stock, but they are vintage '68 and a popular addition to the GSS.
Fenderwell headers poke out from the wheelwells to warn the curious-if the "383 Four-Barrel" badges on the front quarters escape notice. This many cubes in this small of a car are enough to send smoke signals. But the actual stock engine from the factory is 440 cubes of Magnum big-block, a record yet to be topped for a compact.
GSS (Grand Spaulding Special), is a historic tip-off to the go-fast heritage of this utilitarian two-door hardtop, which was stored for 17 years in "Grandma's garage." The grandson, for whom the car was bought, immediately put the GSS on the strip and installed the obligatory headers that rubbed the stock tires on sharp turns. In fact, he did more than race his Dyno-tuned Mr. Norm's Dart GSS at the track. While we could not get the details from the original driver, we have the words of friends who "remembered the kid, remembered the car, and remembered their encounters with the police."
Amid the chores of daily life, they forgot about the hot little compact when it disappeared one day in 1973. Little did they know it had gone over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house in Saginaw, Michigan. Supposedly, its furlough was for the boy's own safety.
In 1990, the family finally sold the Dart to one of those friends who remembered the car. He immediately resold it to a Mopar enthusiast, who dragged it to national shows in hopes of finding another buyer. Richard Myers of Wallaceburg, Ontario, Canada, looked at the GSS at one show, then another. Happy with its heritage and great original condition, Richard bought the sheep in wolf's clothing.
Luckily, the car had been stored in a garage that adjoined Grandmother's house. They laid blankets over and under it-this care kept rust at bay. The trunk floors and main floorpans were in good shape. One quarter had a little bit of rust. The body had its share of minor dents and scratches, but mileage was a scant 43,000. When Myers added the car to his Mopar collection, the Dart still was wearing the '73 license plates from the day it was stored.
The restoration pro-ceeded in a typical ground-up fashion, with a couple of interesting decisions. Save for the carpet and headliner, Myers kept the original seats, door panels, dash, and the remainder of the interior. Also, the vinyl roof was in such good shape that there was no need to replace it.
Myers elected to keep the Hooker fenderwell headers. To celebrate their presence, he peeled and stuck a vintage "I Love My Hooker Headers" decal to the driver-side vent window. Although they weren't fac-tory stock, fenderwell headers were a popular period modification to these cars. The original owner bought the less restrictive pipes and hacked away the inner fender for the header fit.
Richard Myers got the original...
Richard Myers got the original window sticker with this GSS. This is a copy. Notice where Dodge shipped the car-Hurst-Campbell-and that it was sold to Grand Spaulding Dodge in Chicago, Illinois.
The result of these modifications is a return to one of Mopar's shining moments in big-block musclecar history. In 1967, Dodge had already subcontracted a shop to build a limited run of Darts with the 383 four-barrel. They were special. Meanwhile, Norm Kraus, owner of Grand-Spaulding Dodge, a dealership in Chicago, didn't see why he couldn't use the 440 big-block. He fit the big Magnum by modifying the driver-side motor mount. After Mr. Norm's super-tuning, he drove his dealership hot rod to Detroit for the Dodge Boys to see. This led to the Dodge Division becoming interested in building a Dart with a high-performance 440.
Dodge took the cue from the Mopar performance king in Chi-cago and subcontracted Hurst-Campbell to build a limited run of 440ci Darts. Actually, any dealership could have ordered these big-engined compacts, but in 1968, only Mr. Norm had the inside connections and the interest to do so.
Mr. Norm's advertised his high-performance Mopars nationwide in car-buff magazines. Before FM became popular, he broadcast ads on WLS-a clear-channel, 50,000 watt Chicago AM radio station. He had a big following in the Midwest, and was known nationally for selling and racing Dodges.
A clever Mr. Norm's pulled...
A clever Mr. Norm's pulled the "T" out of GTS and replaced it with an "S," resulting in an abbreviation for "Grand Spaulding Special." Richard Myers tells us that Mr. Norm's didn't redrill the holes for the S, so the two S's are crowded together on the hood. The middle "S," which replaced the "T" in GTS, is bordered with red paint-another Mr. Norm's maneuver. The factory left the 383 badges intact. Apparently, Dodge wasn't going to go to the effort to re-badge such a limited-production car.
Myers added the Sun Tach,...
Myers added the Sun Tach, and oil pressure and water temperature gauges. The TorqueFlite was stock on the initial batch of 48 cars converted by Hurst-Campbell and shipped to Grand Spaulding Auto Sales in Chicago, Illinois. Later, a batch of 30 four-speeds were converted and shipped to Mr. Norm's.
The '68 stock tires actually...
The '68 stock tires actually rub against the fenderwell headers on sharp turns. Turning was not a priority for the car's original owner.