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?
WT: I really like the '67-'69 Dodge A-Body size, shape, and styling. It has that sleeper look and yet is capable of serious handling and performance without much difficulty. It has appealed to me since day one. A '69 Dart Swinger 340 was my first Mopar and saw me through many youthful adventures and therefore has a special, personal attraction for me.
CC: We know those Hurst Hemi cars were pretty brutal; John changed a lot to make it streetable. How do you like the way this car rides compared to, say, your Hemi convertible?
WT: This car is still pretty brutal compared to something like my Hemicuda convertible, which seems almost civilized relative to the Dart. The modern, streetable modifications greatly assist in handling, shifting, and braking, but the overall experience is one of overwhelming, raw power. There's no substitute for cubic inches. It's a stiff, noisy, all-encompassing ride guaranteed to bring on perma-grin lasting much longer than the ride itself!
CC: Do you plan to try and race the car at all?
WT: I have no plans to race it, but I'm planning a trip to the track just to see what it's capable of.
CC: It seems like car guys in Canada build and own some pretty cool stuff. Tell us a little about the street scene in Edmonton right now.
WT: Considering our short collector car season here in Edmonton, the number and variety of really nice cars never ceases to amaze me. Our Edmonton Mopar Club (http://members.shaw.ca/radels/) has about 130 members, many with more than one car. Numerous other clubs also meet regularly all summer with cruise nights, as well as show and shines or perhaps a bigger show almost every weekend. You can pretty well see it all up here, from prewar rods to musclecars of all types to current-day highly modified imports.
Car: '68 Dodge Dart Super Stock SS/A street replica
Owner: Wayne Tunis, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Builder: John Balow, Musclecar Restorations, Chippewa Falls, WI
Engine: 528ci MP Hemi by Ray Barton
Block and heads: Mopar Performance, massaged
Induction: Original '68 Super Stock intake with two Holleys
Camshaft: Barton custom solid lift 0.583/0.573, 257/263 at 0.050
Transmission: Keisler/Tremec TKO II
Rearend: Dana 60 with 3.54 SureGrip
Front suspension: Upgraded torsion bars, Hemi K-frame, Quickor Suspension 1.13 sway bar
Rear suspension: Relocated Super Stock springs, pinion snubber
Brakes: Baer 11-inch discs on all corners
Wheels: Stockton TQ w/225/70R15 Radial TAs (front) and 315/70R15 Drag Radials (rear)
Body mods: Carbon-fiber parts, Super Stock equipment installation
Paint: PPG Viper Red basecoat/clearcoat, by MCR
Interior: Year One '68-era, radio delete plate, Electric-Life power windows
Cost: More than an original SS/AA car brings today!