The original plan was to build a faithful replica of an original L023 Dart. The only real difference would be the engine, which would be built to run on pump gas. As we developed the project, I really wanted to be able to drive the car and enjoy it. It was not to be a race car, nor was there any conception it would ever be a great handling car. Rather, it was meant to be a streetable version of Chrysler's original (race only) concept. With that in mind, we developed other ideas to improve the drivability, functionality, and handling with upgraded modern components, while still maintaining the feel of the original. It was important to me that the look and feel of the original concept be maintained. We also wanted the car to be unique and to make a statement at shows.
The intermingling of these various philosophies brought about some special touches to this vehicle. Practical considerations, such as four-wheel disc brakes, five-speed transmission, hydraulic clutch, and the proper suspension setup deemed necessary for a street car, were integrated into the design. We also kept the gearing at a reasonable ratio for street use. Body strength was improved with a six-point roll bar welded into place, and the sub-frames connected with rectangular frame connectors. There were also the more cosmetic touches, such as extensive use of carbon fiber for the front fenders, hood and scoop, air cleaner, and fan shroud, which we feel make a bold statement using modern technology, but at the same time are also attractive and weight saving. With an engine that weighs as much as a Hemi, anything that takes additional weight off the front end is an added bonus. The mirror delete plate is another specialized item we wanted to replicate from the original. The nation was scoured for one of these original plates, but, unfortunately, none was available. However, we did find the owner of an original who was kind enough to let us make a casting of his piece, providing for the fabrication of an excellent stainless steel reproduction. This is another small touch that adds to the original feel of the car. A truck mounted, reproduction, super stock battery also adds period authenticity.
The Ray Barton built 528 Hemi produces 658 hp at 5,900 rpm and 659 lb-ft of torque at 4,700 rpm, while sucking pump gas. The aluminum heads have been fully ported and polished, allowing for excellent flow characteristics that, though not fully utilized, do make a difference in the street rpm range. The cam is a mild RBRE piece with .583/.573-inch lift and 257/263-degrees duration at .050 inch, in order to keep the horsepower within a streetable range. One hundred-plus horsepower could easily be added with a more aggressive cam profile. Ray Barton Racing Engine custom roller rockers are utilized, again to assist in efficiency and reliability. To help put this power to the ground, a Keisler five-speed transmission was chosen, which not only provides a steeper first gear for more aggressive launches, but also an overdrive to keep the rpm down on any potential highway driving. The power is then directed to a Dana rearend with 3.54 gears and a Sure Grip. The wheelwells were enlarged, utilizing mini tubs blended in to look original. The biggest tires possible were selected to fit within the tubs. Because of the size of the tire, the wheelbase had to be lengthened slightly by moving the rear end a couple inches. This allowed proper centering of the tire/wheel combination within the wheelwells. Because of this move, the stock gas tank would not fit, so a custom stainless steel gas tank was fabricated to fit within the available dimensions. A Holly electric fuel pump is employed to move the gas towards the rather thirsty engine. To minimize noise and odor, a full 3-inch, ceramic-coated exhaust system routes the spent gases out the rear through stock-appearing A-Body stainless steel tips.