1968 Dodge Dart 426 Hurst-Hemi

There are a few cosmetic changes for the 1968 Dodge Dart. The exterior front fascia has the grill mounted parking/signal light configuration moved slightly further from each fender with side marker lights also added to both sides front, and rear as mandated by law. The windshield wiper arms are a no glare matte black rather than chromed in keeping with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 108 and three point restraints are basic equipment with an added shoulder harness for each front outboard occupant although the harness must be manually attached to the lap belt each time it is worn. This year EPA is just starting to flex its muscle in a big way and although emission controls are minimal they are in effect in 50 US states making Chrysler’s “Clean Air Package” standard equipment on all models. Mechanical changes include the Dart steering linkage is upgraded and the standard axle ratio is dropped from 2.93 to 2.76.

The most exciting thing for 1968 is the newly offered, and now very rare, factory built Dart GTS Hardtop. Thanks go to some high profile race drivers lobbying Chrysler for a high performance Dart. The press release quotes a Chryco spokesman: “Dodge is putting more zip in its Dart in hopes of hitting the bull’s eye in class B Super Stock drag racing competition this year. The new vehicle is lighter and quicker featuring the Hemi-426 engine which will complete the quarter mile at over 130 mph in less than 11 seconds.” These units are bare bones equipped; so I am not certain how many of the above regulations are applicable to this Hurst-Hemi Dart option. There are only 50 of these special order units roll off the assembly line; they have stripped down interiors with two bucket seats only, no optional equipment, no side window mechanisms, and primer body paint only but this unit does include a non-warranty disclaimer from the manufacturer. These race units are equipped with fibre glassed fenders and hood with a special scoop ; it also sports light weight window glass, lighter doors, a Hurst shift kit, a floor mounted four speed transmission, and a 426 cu in (7.0 L) Hemi powered engine. The heads are cast iron and not aluminum to save about $1,000.00 but does add seventy unneeded pounds. The iron block firing chamber has oversized piston rings for a tight fit offering  12.5:1 compression, a roller bearing timing chain to reduce stretch thereby enhancing performance, high capacity oil pump, two holly four barrel carburetors, lightweight magnesium intake manifold, Prestolite transistorized ignition, dual point breakers for the distributor, metal core plug wires, and headers lower exhaust back pressure. Other added performance equipment includes deeply grooved belt pullies, heavy duty radiator, and seven blade viscous drive cooling fan (viscous coupling uses a thick fluid to transfer torque/rotation). The race car’s suspension is more highly refined than the basic Dart with heavy duty rear shock absorbers and the special  high output 135 amp battery takes up residence in the trunk.

If you should stumble upon one of these very rare Dodge Dart GTS business coupe hardtops for sale in moderately good condition it could have an asking price of up to around $250,000.00 US funds although a basket case could be quite a bit cheaper. Home restoration is a possibility but this is expensive, intricate, intensive, long term, and a labour of love. I did run across the web site of Mr. Norm located in Chicago’s Humboldt Park who specializes in building better than original reproductions of the ’68 Dodge Dart. He can supply you with a car or you can dart to him with your own vehicle. The car can be finished precisely like the original or fully upholstered like an uptown show room dart. The 426 engine is upscale from the factory version and uses aluminum heads-it can done out to produce  625 or 720 hp with two other lesser ratings also a choice but this depends on how deep your pockets are.

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