My favorite cars are those you might call sleepers, wolves in sheep's clothing with big motors and big performance hiding inside subtle and unassuming sheetmetal. It's cool when you build one yourself, but the factory-built heartbreakers that can sneak around under the radar and lay down the pain on demand are the next step up. Even cooler is when they are cars that just shouldn't exist, cars that the factory could have built, but since they were so outrageous, expensive, or simply under-promoted that nobody knew about them, very, very few were built.
This "68 Dodge Dart GTS is just such a car. I mean, who the hell would think to put a 383 cubic inch big block in a little compact Dart and back it up with a 4-speed?
OK, maybe it isn't all that outrageous, but I can't be the only one who gets excited to see cars like this built by the factory. In today's automotive world, it's hard to imagine an automaker taking chances like this imagine GM stuffing a LS2 V8 into a Cobalt come on, get serious. Nevertheless, that's the idea behind the Dodge Dart GTS, and its 100% cool.
Coming off a high-dollar restoration, this is a 100% matching-numbers Dart GTS, and is one of only 991 4-speed cars built in "68. We have the original Chrysler Corporation Boradcast Sheet, Govier documentation and a stack of receipts an inch thick detailing every aspect of the restoration. According to the original fender tag, this car is equipped with the following:
62: 383 4-barrel 300 HP V83 A833 4-speed manual transmission39 E70x14 White Streak tiresAX4 8.75 rear axle with 3.23 gearsS6F Green sport vinyl bucketsTT1 Medium Green Metallic paintS9 Stripe deleteR1 Music Master AM radioX1 Tinted windowsY4 Green vinyl topa6 Console with floor shifterb4 Bucket seatsm6 Outside LH remote chrome mirror
And since this particular tag shows code u1 that means it was ordered specifically this way, which I always appreciate. Cars like this just weren't the kind of cars dealers put on the lot hoping for the average customer to walk in and purchase. No, cars like this were ordered specifically BECAUSE they're sleepers, and the guys doing the ordering knew EXACTLY what they were doing.
The quality of the bodywork on this Dart is just outstanding. In a color like Medium Green, you have to get it right or else every little flaw will show up, and someone spent some time on the car. Prep and attention to detail are above average clearly they knew this was an important, rare car and it was worth going the extra mile on it. The 2-stage paint is deep and shiny, and has clearly benefitted from a deep color sand and polish, and gleams like a mirror under the lights here in the showroom. There's not too much metallic in it, so it still looks pretty authentic, although I'm fairly certain paint didn't look this good in 1968. Panel alignment is outstanding and when you hear the doors slam, you forget that this is a Dodge economy car at heart they sound really solid.
Dig the green vinyl top, I'd almost call it Gator Grain but it isn't quite that outrageous. I love unusual stuff like this, and when you combine the late '60s and Mopar, you get some pretty bizarre stuff. The color keeps it somewhat subdued, but up close; you just can't resist running your fingers over it to see what it feels like. Of course it's authentic and original, but wow, I've never seen anything like it before too, too cool!
The rest of the trim is a first rate combination of original stuff that has been restored and new reproduction items. The bumpers gleam like new, the grille is nearly flawless, and all the lenses are crystal clear. I like the GTS and 383 4-Barrel badges on the flanks, but I'm betting that they were the first things to go when the guy who bought this car got it home sleepers don't advertise. The stainless trim has been straightened and buffed to a very high standard and looks better than new. The windshield and back glass are new, but as far as I can tell the window glass is original, but it looks too nice to be 42 years old. You decide.
Mechanically, the car is all-new. The matching-numbers 383 was fully rebuilt to stock specs by Dillon Auto Craft Performance Engines in Caldwell, Idaho in 2008. There's nothing outrageous in there, and no signs of damage, this was just a typical rebuild and refresh to make a factory-new engine that will give years of great service. It does, however, have an upgraded Competition K21-223-4 camshaft in the block, which gives it a wicked idle and pulls like a freight train at speeds, and the ignition has a Pertronix electronic conversion. Until you've felt big block torque in one of these little cars, you can't imagine how limitless the acceleration feels.
The engine compartment is well detailed with all the correct parts throughout, from the 383 air cleaner to the correct radiator and accessories. The fenders and firewall are painted as carefully as the exterior, so they gleam and shine better than new. Details like the hoses and clamps are exact, the overspray is on the ground cable just like it should be, and there's a new reproduction yellow cap battery in there that is like icing on the cake. You'll also notice that this is a manual steering and brakes car if it doesn't help it go faster, the original buyer left it off the order sheet, and chopped out a lot of extra weight, too. This is a very impressive engine compartment that you will be proud to show any time anyone asks to see it. In fact, the only things wrong that I can find are the lack of a few decals such as the one on the air cleaner, the antifreeze tag on the radiator, and the idle settings label on the fender all available from a number of sources.
Underneath it's just as nice and just as thoroughly researched and restored. The floors are clean and straight with no overspray or undercoating. The hardware gleams, the lines and hoses are new, and everything is as it should be. The A833 4-speed manual transmission has been rebuilt and hangs off a Lakewood bellhousing surrounding a fresh Hayes clutch. The driveshaft features fresh U-joints and spins the original 8.75-inch rear packing 3.55 gears in place of the original 3.23s. Just Suspension provided the rebuild parts on the front suspension, including bushings, idler arm, and pitman arm, while Accurate Exhaust provided more than $1000 worth of components to make an authentic exhaust system. The drum brakes are all-new, and the shocks are stock-type replacements that look 100% OEM. And as you are undoubtedly aware, I'm digging the black steel wheels with dog-dish hubcaps surrounded by reproduction E70-14 Firestone white line tires.
The interior is by Legendary need I say more? Several thousand dollars were spent inside getting this car to at least showroom new condition in every way, although I still have a hard time believing they were this nice in 1968. They probably weren't. Anyway, the seats have new foam for a firm, supportive feel, the headliner is tight, the door panels are new with the correct GTS badges, and the carpet shows the correct thickness and pile. I'm digging the twisted Hurst shifter for the 4-speed that looks wild, but puts the knob in exactly the right position for performance driving. The gauges are clearly rebuilt, with the odometer showing 1560 miles since it was restored. Among the many receipts is one from Aspen Sound for a pair of 4x10 speakers, so I'm guessing that Music Master AM radio is going to sound a lot better than it did in 1968. Hopefully the stuff they play on AM radio these days is up to the task, but I fear for the worst in that area.
The trunk is also fully refinished with a new mat, plus the correct spare and jack. The jack instruction label is missing, so I'm guessing that someone just forgot to install all the labels on this car when it was finished. Let us know if you'd like us to install them for you before you pick the car up.
The car is also extremely well documented. First off there's an original Chrysler Corporation Broadcast Sheet; this one looks like it came from behind the back seat. Then there's a comprehensive Govier Report decoding and inspecting the car this is the $1,000 inspection where Galen personally inspects the car and photographs it with comments. In addition, there are receipts dating back to 1984 when this car was apparently still driven somewhat regularly (sadly, this car was a frequent visitor at a local quick-lube oil change place). The restoration is fully documented with receipts and paperwork, plus a CD-ROM with dozens of photos of the entire process. There's nothing left to hide here.
If you're a Mopar fan, a Dart fan, or just a fan of stealth mobiles that carry big blasting powder in a compact package, don't miss this Dart. There are probably no nicer 383 Darts anywhere, especially with it being such a rare car. And in terms of investment potential, you just can't go wrong; fully documented with a build sheet, matching numbers throughout, and a top-notch restoration make it a safer investment than anything Wall Street is offering today. You definitely won't see another one at the shows you take it to, and you'll bring home a ton of trophies with its killer detailing. Just imagine you're that original buyer in 1968, spec-ing out your sleeper Dart, and look forward to going out and hurting some much bigger kids. There's nothing better than the surprised look on the faces of people who just didn't see you coming.
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