I was now in family mode, and after the birth of our second daughter Allison, we graduated to a minivan. In the late '80s and early '90s, there were not a lot of high performance, exciting automobiles coming out of Detroit. I missed the rumble of a big American V-8. One day I was chatting with a fellow professional who told me he had owned numerous musclecars and was rebuilding a '69 Firebird. He prompted me to start thinking about what kind of car I would like and persuaded me to start actively looking for one. I am not sure why I decided to go along with this, but...
There was no doubt in my mind that I was looking for a Mopar, and the Hemi had always intrigued me. When I was younger, there were races every Friday night on an old road behind the airport in Montreal. There was always chatter about whether or not the Hemi car (an A-990 car, I believe) would make an appearance on any particular night. I never actually saw it, but the fascination lived on. I decided if I were going to look for a car, it would have to have a Hemi. In the mid '90s I found a '67 Satellite that sounded interesting, but probably would have needed more restoration than I was ready to undertake. As I kept looking, I happened upon a recently restored '71 Plymouth Hemicuda convertible replica that the owner had not advertised, but had to sell. My timing was perfect, and, after a little negotiating, I became the proud owner of a very exciting car. Although not an original, it is a well-done clone, highly optioned, with many original and NOS parts. I began to get into the local car scene, joining the Edmonton Mopar Club, and going to numerous shows in the Edmonton and surrounding areas. The 'Cuda did well, winning numerous awards. However, many comments were along the lines of "Oh, this is so and so's car..." or "Yeah, I remember when this car was first..." It was difficult for me to accept this was not considered my car. I began to think about building or restoring a car of my own. I also began to lust after a little more power, and even though the stroked Hemi engine ran well, it was in a fairly heavy car that was basically stock and did not have all the get up and go I craved. The idea of a Hemi Dart began to take form.
I have been an avid reader of Mopar magazines (especially Mopar Muscle) since obtaining a Mopar in the late '90s, and had read several articles on the original Hemi Darts. Since the Dart had been my first love, as far as cars were concerned, this really seemed the way to go. Although, a potent small-block would definitely give better handling, the intrigue and lure of the Hemi had bitten me hard, and I felt that already having a street Hemi, a race Hemi would be an excellent addition.
I began reading everything I could find in print and on the Internet about '68 Hemi Darts. In the summer of 2000, I found an original that appeared photographically to be in excellent condition, although upon further inspection, it may have required some restoration. I also began to wonder who could restore such a car, and although there is an excellent restoration facility in our city, I felt that I needed some additional expertise, guidance, and innovation. Around this time, I saw the Holley Road runner in Mopar Muscle, and looked up the Muscle Car Restorations web site. I saw they had restored an original Hemi Dart. I sent John Balow a quick email, which was followed up with an informative phone call. We discussed the pros and cons of an original car vs. a replica. As I wanted to actually drive this car on the street, a replica seemed to be the way to go, so I gave John the go ahead to start looking for a suitable donor car. In the fall of 2000, we found a reasonably solid '68 Dart body in Montana.