The ultimate street-racer's fantasy is to show up in a ratty-looking sleeper and blow the doors off one hoity-toity muscle car after another. A Dodge Dart GTS 440 made that a reality for at least one bold fellow. You could look it up.
With its standard 340-cid V-8, the '68 Dart GTS was a worthy member of Dodge's new performance-car group, the Scat Pack. Underrated at 275 bhp, a GTS could turn mid-l4s at 99 mph. The optional 383 V-8 had 335 bhp, but weight disadvantages meant it wasn't much quicker than the nimbler 340.
©2007 The 440 Darts were street-legal cars, but aftermarket headers, ignition kit, hoses, wiring, air cleaner, and internal hop-ups on this engine are typical of the drag-racing modifactions most of them got.
Of course, that didn't stop some Mopar freaks from stuffing in a 440-cid V-8. In all, about 650 '68 and '69 Darts were fitted with the big-block Magnum, which almost always was modified after the transplant to well beyond its 375-bhp factory rating. Conversion of a group of 48 '68 GTSs was typical.
Dodge shipped 383-spec Darts (minus powertrain) along with factory-prepped 440 engines to Hurst-Campbell, Inc., a Michigan aftermarket company. Hurst-Campbell did the conversion, Dodge reps inspected it, and the cars were forwarded to Grand Spaulding Auto Sales in Chicago, a performance-oriented Dodge dealer. These cars got vehicle identification numbers but were not covered by the factory warranty.
©2007 Note that this 1968 Dart GTS 440 retains "383" badges denoting the smaller engine. The element of surprise was a muscle car staple.
With even more weight in front and no power steering (it wouldn't fit), 440 Darts were good for little but all-out straight-line attacks. So irresistible was the setup that a thief stole Car and Driver's brand-new, bright blue 440 Dart test car from its New York parking space.
Documenting the heist in its October 1969 issue, the magazine said the Dart soon surfaced "at a local street racing highway and cleaned up. The car, camouflaged in light gray primer...had put down a brace of Corvettes that had gained some local renown."
The thief was eventually caught red-handed at New York National Speedway, where the Dart was embarrassing all rivals. Appropriately enough, it was running in the dragway's "Hot Car" class.
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- Muscle cars created their own culture. To learn about it, read How Muscle Cars Work.
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- An all-aluminum, race-proven V-8 defined the rare and wicked 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
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- Are you thinking of buying a 2007 muscle car, or any other car? See Consumer Guide Automotive's New-Car Reviews, Prices, and Information.