Allen McDaniel knew it the minute the trailer drove up. It was May 2002, and Allen, from Saltillo, Mississippi, was at his office when it arrived. It was the '62 Dodge Dart he had purchased from John Parent of Sacramento, California. Allen had purchased the car from John fully restored. But what made the moment particularly nerve-wracking was not just the major investment pulling into the driveway, but the fact that Allen had never met John.
Allen purchased the Dart on eBay without ever having seen it or having met the owner.
"I had been looking for a '62 Dodge or Plymouth B-Body for two or three years," he says. "Every time my Hemming's Motor News came, I went straight to the P and D [sections]. Then a friend of mine saw this car on eBay and told me about it. I clicked on the pictures, and I was toast."
When the moment of truth arrived, Allen's friends went outside with him and watched as the Dart was unloaded. "They were taking pictures," he continues. "It was great. The hard part about buying the car was I had never seen it in person. But when it came off that trailer, I knew I had done the right thing. It took my breath away. The first time I got in, my leg was shaking. I don't know why."
With a '70 Dodge 440 engine, this Dart can definitely shake a leg. "It's just for playing with," he says. "When I put the new engine in, I'm going to need a little more gear in it, but it's a great highway car."
Right now, the 440 is basically stock, with 10:1-compression pistons and a hydraulic cam. It's also pushing through a complete '62 Max Wedge exhaust system with cutouts. But waiting to go into the engine compartment is a 440 short-block, which came with the purchase of the Dart. The short-block came with 413 heads, a Max Wedge intake, carbs, air cleaner, and linkage. Allen already has the short-block torn down, rebuilt, and ready to install. He just hasn't gotten around to it yet.
"I'm having too much fun with the car to take it off the road that long," he says. "I also want to add a five-speed down the line."
Allen continues to be impressed by the restoration job John did beforehand. "Big Red (as Allen calls it) was discovered in a wrecking yard in Sacramento in 1995," he says. "It had no rust or dents, and had a six-cylinder with a three-speed. John has about 30-40 Mopars out there and had seven or eight Darts when I talked to him. I called him several times after looking at it [on eBay], and he sent me some additional photos. When I saw those, I was hooked. He also said it had been a multiple-show winner, which made me feel better. I just bid until everyone else quit. I would like to meet him someday."
While in John's care, the Dart's bodywork was performed by Majestic Body Shop in California. In addition to a new red exterior, it was outfitted with a reproduction fiberglass hoodscoop. The Dart has a stock front suspension, but has the rear springs from the '66 Dodge Police Package. The stock, powdercoated wheels are hooked up to front and rear drum brakes.