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Feature Car(s) – Car of the Month

Phillip Radcliff - 1967 Dart

I know some of you saw this car sitting down on Isleta Pueblo for many years. Almost four years ago, I was looking for a Dart to build as a daily driver. I've had some nice cars through the years (about 65, plus 20 motorcycles). Some were fun to drive, and some were just transportation. After many years in the car business, a lot of which were spent restoring old cars for clients, I really wanted to build something for myself that would be cool and fun to drive. I had a 1970 Duster 340 for about a year - bought used in '71 - and I've wanted another MOPAR small-block, 4-speed car ever since. I heard about this car, went and looked at it and a week or so later, had made a deal with the owner. I had Knittle's Towing drag it out of the sand and get it somewhere I could work on it.

I dismantled it in just a couple of weeks then sent the shell to Maurer's Collision. The crew there did a spectacular job on the body and paint. During the months they had the body, I collected and rebuilt parts. The original slant-six, bench seat, automatic car, was transformed to a 318, with an A-833 four-speed overdrive. I swapped the rear axle for an 8 3/4 from a '69 Dodge truck, cut to fit the Dart body by Moser Engineering in Indianapolis. The gears were originally 3.55s, which I traded off, and got the 3.23 Sure-Grip I wanted to mate up with the 4-speed. So far, from the little bit of driving I've done, I think the gearing is ideal for day-to-day driving.

I modified the tranny, since it also came out of a Dodge truck, replacing the longer tail shaft housing and main shaft with the shorter bits to fit the A-body. The flywheel, clutch, bell housing, etc., all came from Brewer's Performance, as did the bearings, syncros, etc., for the tranny overhaul. Building the engine was the most fun part of the whole project. The 1973 truck motor was good to start with. The nice people at Automotive Head Exchange did the valve job, block clean-up, balanced the rotating assembly. I used the stock heads, changing the valves to 360-spec parts. I spent almost 30 hours porting the heads, and then matching the ports to the Doug's Headers and to the Edelbrock Performer manifold. The solid-lifter cam is from Comp Cams, with Crane roller rockers. The pistons are Keith Black, at a 9.7 compression ratio. On a side note, my reasons for going with the solid-lifter cam had nothing to do with performance. I just like the way they sound, and from all my years working on (older) European cars, I actually enjoy adjusting valves. Ha! I figured it will be fun, two or three times a year to spend a Saturday afternoon having a couple of beers and adjusting the valves. The engine electrics are upgraded to the 1973 electronic ignition, and the bigger alternator. The aluminum radiator and seven-blade flex fan keep the engine (and the driver) cool.

For brakes and suspension, I installed a nice 11" disc conversion set-up from Matt's Classic BowTies. The kit came with tube upper control arms, tandem master cylinder, adjustable proportioning valve, spindles, ball joints - everything I needed, and to my delight and surprise, everything fit. V-8 spec torsion bars replaced the original ones, and the leaf springs were re-arched, and got an extra leaf added. I ditched the power steering and changed to manual steering, and located a manual, floor-shift column to match. The front bench seat gets replaced with buckets I got from a Dodge Aspen. I haven't gotten them re-upholstered yet, but they're very comfortable, and the seating position suited me just right from the very first time I sat in it.

I still have interior work to do, and some trim pieces still to locate and install, but it's nearly complete. I love it when a plan comes together. It's gonna be a lotta fun!