Sometimes a project comes together right away. But in the case of Larry and Sue Mayes' '67 Dodge Dart GT convertible, it took much longer than first planned to build the Pearl White cruiser seen here. Originally a Slant Six car, Larry found it back in the early '90s. "It was a decent little car," says Larry. "The interior had some rips in it and there were some holes in the carpet. But the top was good and it ran good."
Instead of keeping it original, Larry had other ideas. "My plan was to make a clone of the '69 Dart GTS that my brother had," he recalls. "I got a 440 for it and I had a (727) automatic, and I was collecting parts to go that route. And then I got a '71 Demon parts car that had a 340 short-block in it, and I thought, Well, I can put power steering on it for my wife to drive with the 340, and make it an overall better car to drive." The switch also included converting the Dart from an automatic to a four-speed, complete with a console-clearing Hurst shifter.
However, the first builder to work on the 340 had more experience with Bowtie engines than Mopars, which led to bent pushrods. Says Larry, "It sat there on the show field [at Carlisle], and I didn't want to start it up any more that weekend because I'd done all the tests that I could without tearing into it, and I didn't want the judges to see it with the engine apart." Once home, the 340 came out, and with the help of a solid-lifter camshaft (and help from Indy Cylinder Head and Wedan Speed & Performance), the 340 was running right. Help from a couple more aftermarket sources led to one big change on the 340--and to the car's comfort level. "I put Classic Auto Air [air conditioning] on it," says Larry. "We visited with them when we were in Tampa, Florida, and I told them what I was doing and what I was building--and that my wife wanted the March pulleys on it." Along with the billet March Performance pulleys, a polished A/C compressor also went on the 340.
Early Days: Every project needs a beginning.
Engine: Replacing the OEM 225 Slant Six is this 340, built like one we featured in a tech
Interior: Leather in a Dart? Why not! Blue ultra leather by Jim Matthews at Indy Auto Tri
Though the body had little to no rust on it, getting it into the shape seen here took nearly a decade. Bad experience with one body shop led to the Dart being moved to another, and--eventually--the '67's unibody was straightened and coated with White Pearl paint, with a rear bumblebee stripe painted on in the '69 GTS pattern. Up front, a 1969-vintage GTS/Swinger 340 hood replaced the stock flat one. For the chassis, Larry added SSBC disc brakes up front, teamed with the stock 10-inch drums on the 8-3/4 rear end that came from the same parts car that the 340 did. At each corner, period-correct Cragar S/S wheels on redline Firestone radials fill the Dart's fenderwells.
Instead of a straight restoration inside, Larry went the custom route, with leather covering the buckets, rear bench, the door, and side panels. Nearly a decade after he started, Larry had a Dart that was quite a looker. "We've had it at Carlisle, and it got First Place in its class," says Larry of the '67's show field success. "We've also had it at ISCA shows. I've won some Firsts with it there, and last year I got Outstanding Custom with it."
The 340 is a good performer too--though Larry would use a different Mopar powerplant if he would do that car again. "I'd put a late-model Hemi in it," he says. "And I'd put one of Reilly's AlterKtion front ends with coilover on it, so I'd have more room by eliminating the stock front torsion bars." He notes that parts like AlterKtion weren't around in the early '90s, and modern Hemis didn't become available (either in salvage-yard form or as swap-ready crate engines) until much later. Larry's advice to those planning an A-Body project like his: "You need to make a plan and try to stay with it. The problem I had was that I had too much time. It cost me a lot of money because I made so many changes to the car."
'67 Dodge Dart GT Convertible
Owned by: Larry and Sue Mayes, Mooresville, Indiana
- Engine: Originally fitted with a 225 Slant Six, the Mayes' '67 now sports a '71 340 built to replicate a 400hp previously built here in Mopar Muscle. Goodies include a .040-inch overbore; Comp Cams solid-lifter camshaft and adjustable rockers; J heads with bronze valveguides, hardened valve seats, and 2.02-inch intake/1.60-inch exhaust valves; a March Performance billet pulley setup; and a dual exhaust system with tti headers, Doug's electronic cutouts, an X-pipe, and Flowmaster 40-series mufflers. Engine tune by Kevin and Brad Wedan at Wedan Speed & Performance, Columbus, Indiana.
- Transmission: A Hurst-shifted 833 from Dana & Cindy at D&L Transmission, Greenfield, Indiana, replaced the column-shifted 904 Torqueflite.
- Rearend: The same '71 Demon 340 whose engine wound up in the Dart's engine bay also gave up its 83?4, Sure Grip–equipped rear for this Dart. Larry swapped its 3.23 gear set for a set of 3.73s.
- Suspension: Restored original '67 Dart GT: longitudinal torsion bars, anti-sway bar, and tubular shocks up front, with leaf springs and tubular shocks in back.
- Brakes: SSBC discs in front and 1971-vintage 10-inch drums in back, power-assisted.
- Wheels and Tires: 14x6-inch Cragar S/S five-spokes on Firestone 225/70-14 redline radials look period-correct at each corner.
- Body: Original '67 Dart convertible unibody (with a '69 GTS/Swinger 340 hood) only needed some small patch panels on the floors, quarters, and quarter-panel extensions. OEM trim was either refurbished or replaced with refinished parts-car pieces. Original top frame wears a new top installed by Kevin Kent at Kent's Auto Upholstery, Beech Grove, Indiana.
- Paint: Base/clear Pearl White, sprayed on by Tony Spears and sister Rocky at Spears Auto Body, Fairland, Indiana
- Interior: Originally a buckets-without-console car, this time the Dart got a custom blue ultra-leather upholstery job by Jim Matthews at Indy Auto Trim, New Palestine, Indiana, on its seats, door, and side panels. Cut-pile carpets are by Auto Carpets Originals.