Most of the cars we feature in this magazine go from "junk to jewel" in one concise, linear movement. Dennis Kohr's '69 Dart GT took a decidedly more torturous path to perfection. Since Dennis has had his name on the title, the little beast has appeared as a GTS 340, GTS 360/auto street racer, and a GTS 360 four-speed cruiser. We've never seen a clearer case of automotive schizophrenia.
Dennis picked up the 273/automatic Dart GT from a local junkyard for $50 in 1988. "The quarter-panels were all rotted out," says Dennis, "there was no vinyl cover over the front seat, so the foam was hanging out, the headliner was ripped out, the brake lines were rusted away, and the engine used three quarts of oil per 50 miles," Dennis said. "So, we fixed the brakes, threw a blanket over the seats, and started driving the Dart."
The road time didn't last long, however. After receiving a speeding ticket in a "car that could barely do 55 mph," Dennis decided enough was enough and mapped out a few repairs to make the Dart a bit easier on the eyes-and the road.
"I got mad and said that I was going to give this thing a quick paint job, rebuild the engine, and fix the seats. At that time no one was making A-Body parts, so we hand-made the quarter-panels, making patches and MIG-welding the quarters back together. As with most projects, it started as a quick paint job, but we kept getting fussier and fussier."
Throughout 1991, Dennis, with much help from wife Jackie and brother Allen, completed all of the bodywork, and in January 1992 applied Deltron basecoat in Olive Green Poly with a PPG 2020 clearcoat. Next up was the interior, with N&H Upholstery hand-crafting new seat covers. Finally, the original brightwork was cleaned or rechromed.
Sporting a GTS motif and running with a 340/automatic driveline, the freshened Dart pulled 13.90s in the quarter-mile...and with a lot more style than before. Still, Dennis wanted more-specifically, he wanted a 12-second daily driver, so it was back to the drawing board.
"In 1995," says Dennis, "we installed front disc brakes from a '73 Dart parts car, and C-Body 11.3-inch drums in the rear, along with Moser axles. At this time we also installed a 360 with X-heads, Ultradyne cam, and M1 intake. We also reworked the 727 tranny with a manual-valve body and TCI converter. The car ran consistent 12.70 ETs, and we could drive it everywhere."
Further contributing to the 360's pleasing output was a .030 overbore, Keith Black pistons, Crane 1.5 roller rockers, and a Mopar Performance M1 single-plane intake. The exhaust system was opened up with Hooker Super Comp 151/48 headers, 3-inch two-chamber Flowmaster mufflers, and 3-inch tailpipes.
"In 1999 we got bored with the Dart and had to make another change, so that's when the four-speed went in," said Dennis.
The A-833 floor-shifter upgrade included a Centerforce clutch and pressure plate to deliver quicker and more positive torque transfer. Input is delivered by way of a Hurst shifter, and torque is sent downstream through a 51-inch driveshaft.
The Dart hardly resembles the junkyard dog of the late '80s, and over the years the feisty A-Body has made its mark both on the street around Dennis and Jackie's Myerstown, Pennsylvania home, and on the showfield. It's won First Place at the Chryslers at Carlisle gathering in the 1964-'69 A-Body Modified class four years running, as well as First Place at last year's Chrysler Classic in Columbus, and many First Place trophies at local shows. On the strip, the Dart has taken awards at Englishtown and Norwalk.
So Dennis Kohr's Dart may have been challenged to "find itself" over the years, but there's no doubt this spicy Mopar knows exactly what it's about today.