It's happened to most of us. We're driving through town and spy some interesting iron sitting in a driveway or backyard. We're not sure what we saw, so we turn back for a second look. Usually it's a wasted trip around the block, but sometimes a treasure is uncovered.
What David Pannepacker of Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, stumbled across one day was a treasure in his eyes, although gratification was not instantly achieved. Upon his first inquiry into this '69 Dart, David was greeted with the dreaded "not for sale," yet he was undeterred. Whether the previous owner could tell David would take care of the car, or if he just got tired of David pulling into his driveway we may never know. For whatever reason, David got the keys, and with an updated title in hand, the restification began in earnest.
The seasoned body was given to Ott's Auto Body in Salford, Pennsylvania, where it was treated to some needed repairs. A fiberglass hood, fenders, and bumpers were also employed, and the entire body was covered in an acrylic urethane shade of Tangerine.
If the exterior looks good, the inside should as well. David added new black vinyl goods like seat skins, headliner, and door panels from Legendary Auto Interiors. He retained the factory gauge cluster and added Autometer tach, oil pressure, and water temperature gauges. Knowing from the beginning that this Dart would be a high-performance machine, a 10-point chromoly roll-cage and Simpson safety harnesses were included in the buildup.
Then the fun really began.
David opened up a '68 340 block to a 4.080-inch bore and polished the inside oil galleys to remove any imperfections. The lower portion of the block was filled, while the four-bolt main caps received studs to replace the bolts. A steel crankshaft with a 3.454-inch reach helps the Oliver rods slam the J&E pistons up and down. A Crower roller cam makes the Harland Sharp roller rockers open and close the valves in the W-2 heads. The combination is fed through a Victor Jr. intake supporting a Holley 830 HP carb. Leftover juice is sent through Super Comp headers to Raptor mufflers. Tire-buckling power goes through a 727 with a 4,500-stall converter, then out to the 831/44 Auburn-style rear featuring 4.88 gears. To plant the tires, David uses only a pair of super stock springs and an adjustable pinion snubber. Speaking of tires, Mickey Thompson carries the front and Hoosiers bring up the rear.
To date, David has run a best e.t. of 11.35 at 116 mph-not bad for a car that spent a large portion of its life just sitting beside a house.
For every car that ends up rusting away in somebody's backyard or driveway, David Pannepacker gives us hope that we all can eventually find our dream car if we just take a second trip around the block.