In 1968, Chrysler contracted Hurst Industries to build roughly 160 A-Body Dodge Darts and Plymouth Barracudas for drag-only use. Powered by a race version of the 426 Hemi, the cars took the sport by storm and remain as the pinnacle development in '60s-era Super Stockers, wheelstanding their way down into the 8-second zone to this day. These cars came complete with a glovebox disclaimer stating they were not intended nor DOT-legal for street use, though a handful of outlaws did put the state-of-the-art monsters on the street.
This Dart is the brainchild of Wayne Tunis, an Edmonton, Alberta, resident who decided that the legendary Hurst package could indeed be fortified with some 21st-century upgrades. Wayne is a Mopar guy from way back, and he felt that the Dart would be a great companion to a Hemicuda convertible replica he owns. Knowing that an original Hurst Dart would only lose value with fresh changes, he turned to restoration expert John Balow of Muscle Car Restorations (MCR) in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, to recreate the program using a clean, low-mileage 318 version as the base.
After disassembly, Balow upgraded the spindly chassis with subframe connectors and a six-point rollbar. A Mopar Performance kit moved the springs inward, along with a Hemi K-frame. MCR added Baer disc brakes all the way around, and a stuffed a fat Dana 60 housing with 3.54 gears by Ultimate Driveline under the back end. For rolling stock, 15-inch Stockton SWS TQ rims shod in BFGoodrich rubber finished off the streetable package.
In the meantime, Balow massaged the donor Dart and added parts courtesy of Kramer's Restoration Parts and MCR's well-equipped shop. Panel upgrades included carbon-fiber front fenders, hood and scoop, and headlight supports. Balow added mini-tubs in the rear (and extended the wheelbase from 111 to 114 inches for wheel clearance), a flat trunk floor to accommodate a custom stainless fuel cell, a completely reworked trans tunnel, and a slew of other details. Some mods were done for the sake of performance and engine placement-such as the reworked inner right fender for engine clearance and adding a custom relocation block for the brake master cylinder (which also supports the hydraulic clutch reservoir). Others, such as the super-rare outside rearview mirror block-off plate, were done in-house using MCR's own equipment (MCR also did that great carbon-fiber fan shroud and air cleaner). The interior looks the part for 1968, with Year One supplying all the like-new replacement pieces. In keeping with the theme, Wayne opted to delete the radio. Finally, Balow replicated the seatbelt strap window openers, but they are actually activated by hidden power units from Electric-Life.
The car now appeared to look like the Hurst monsters; so it needed to live up to that reputation. So Tunis went to Ray Barton Racing Enterprises for a 528ci stoker Elephant that looks just like the 426 version from the outside except for Barton's valve covers. It's topped off with an original '68 Chrysler Hemi cross-ram intake supporting two vintage Holley four-barrels.
The result is a street cruiser that can make its way through traffic with ease, yet is also capable of turning the rear meats into smoke on demand. The '60s never had it so good
Car Craft Q&A
Car Craft: You talked a bit about your love affair with Dodge Darts. What makes these cars so special in your mind?