Dodge Dart 1968 426 Hurst-Hemi
There were a few cosmetic changes for the 1968 Dodge Dart. The exterior front fascia had the grille-mounted parking/signal light configuration moved slightly farther from each fender with side marker lights also added to both sides front and rear, as mandated by law. The windshield wiper arms were a no-glare matte black rather than chromed in keeping with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 108, and three-point restraints were basic equipment with an added shoulder harness for each front outboard occupant although the passenger had to manually attach the harness to the lap belt each time. In 1968, the EPA was just starting to flex its muscle in a big way, and although emission controls were minimal, they were in effect in 50 U.S. states making Chrysler’s “Clean Air Package” standard equipment on all models. Mechanical changes include the upgraded Dart steering linkage and the standard axle ratio that Chrysler dropped from 2.93 to 2.76.
The most exciting thing for 1968 was 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’m not certain how many of the above regulations are applicable to this Hurst-Hemi Dart option. Only 50 of these special order units rolled 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 had fiberglass fenders and hood with a special scoop; it also sported lightweight window glass, lighter doors, a Hurst shift kit, a floor-mounted, four-speed transmission, and a 426-cubic-inch (7.0L) Hemi-powered engine.
The heads were cast-iron and not aluminum to save about $1,000 but did add 70 unneeded pounds. The iron block firing chamber had oversized piston rings for a tight fit and offering 12.5:1 compression, a roller bearing timing chain to reduce stretch thereby enhancing performance, a high-capacity oil pump, two Holly four-barrel carburetors, a lightweight magnesium intake manifold, Prestolite transistorized ignition, dual point breakers for the distributor, and metal core plug wires, and headers lower exhaust back pressure. Other added performance equipment included deeply grooved belt pulleys, heavy-duty radiator, and a seven-blade viscous drive cooling fan (viscous coupling uses a thick fluid to transfer torque/rotation). The race car’s suspension was more highly refined than the basic Dart with heavy-duty rear shock absorbers, and the special high-output 135 amp battery took 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 U.S., although a basketcase could be quite a bit cheaper. Home restoration is a possibility, but this is expensive, intricate, intensive, long-term, and a labor of love.
I did run across the website 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. He can finish the car precisely like the original or fully upholstered like an uptown showroom Dart. The 426 engine is upscale from the factory version and uses aluminum heads. It can be 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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