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Dodge 440 Dart - Flash Back

What If Dodge Had Built A 440 Dart With Headers And Attitude?

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'Randy Burg is a Mopar true believer who traces his roots back to the days when his dad ran a music store across from a Chrysler-Plymouth dealership in West Covina, California. Randy was a child of the '60s, so every third car rolling off the transport was some kind of musclecar. It was gearhead heaven with a great soundtrack.

In 1971, Randy stumbled across the perfect Mopar-and it didn't have a Hemi (by this time he'd already owned a Hemi Road Runner). This was a rare Hurst-built '69 440 Dart languishing in a used-car dealership in nearby Whittier. "I asked the salesman, 'Is that a 440?' He said, 'No, it's a 383.' but I knew it was a 440. I bought the Dart and took it to Belanger to have them prototype a set of headers. They cussed me out the whole time and it took them two weeks to complete the job."

That first 440 Dart was merely a waypoint amid a string of 20-odd Mopars he had over the years, but he never forgot that raw wedge power. "Ever since then, I've been looking for another Dart-something along the lines of the '68 Super Stock Hemi Darts. I prefer the simple look of those cars." Eventually, Randy found a '67 six-cylinder car on eBay that had already been blessed with a 440 swap. The car traded owners for a tidy $14,100. "I added up all the receipts and it's like I got the labor for free." Randy was once again in good stead with the Mopar angels.

This is usually where the story spins off into the discovery phase where the new owner faces "the truth" that the car has been hacked and will require months of mechanical surgery to save. But in Randy's case, he got lucky. The car was built right with most of the engineering completed. The 440 settled nicely into the engine compartment with a Schumacher swap kit and 151/48-inch tri-Y headers. According to the receipts in the glovebox, the 440 was treated to a stock-version 0.030-over rebuild enhanced with a set of 9.0:1 Mopar Performance (MP) pistons and an MP hydraulic single-pattern camshaft with 248 degrees duration at 0.050-inch tappet lift with 0.509-inch valve lift and a lobe separation angle of 108 degrees. The exhaust included a 211/42-inch dual package back to a pair of 40-Series Flowmaster mufflers with turn-downs just ahead of the rear axle because the minitubs leave no room for tailpipes. "It's noisy," Randy says. "I'd like to add a couple of resonators to reduce the drone. This was meant to be a driver with an attitude."

Stock 440s are notorious for making great torque due to relatively conservative intake ports, so the engine builder added a set of aluminum Edelbrock Performer RPM heads with a 210cc intake port matched up to 2.14/1.88-inch valves. The previous owner also chose a Mopar M1 dual-plane intake mainly to keep the 750 Speed Demon carburetor under the hood. Randy considered the idea of a forward-facing Super Stock Hemi Dart hood that would allow room for a taller single plane intake. Instead he opted to go for stealth.

You might think the car's low-key exterior would also mean a column-shifted TorqueFlite, but testosterone prevailed and it came through with a New Process cast-iron four-speed complete with a Hurst shifter and a Hays clutch. This whole effort would have raised questions about drivetrain durability without the addition of the 831/44-inch rear axle. Randy always intended the Dart as a road car, which is why there are 3.23s in the rear with a production Sure-Grip limited-slip, but he also has a set of 3.91s in the garage for track-day tests from insistent journalists.

We first met Randy and his 440 Dart on the road during the CC Anti-Tour to Phoenix. With scant few miles on his new ride, he bravely set out to keep pace with our crew of highway bandits and laid down a couple of shots down the strip at Speed World. The best he could manage was a disappointing 14.64 at 95 mph but later discovered the throttle bracket was loose, which limited the carb to barely half-throttle.

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