This led to a discussion about where the corks were hiding in Randy's promising Pentastar. A few weeks later, we witnessed the Dart strapped to Westech's chassis dyno where Tom Habrzyk began the WOT thrash. First runs delivered a disappointing 271 rear-wheel horsepower but promised potential gains. Replacing the restrictive OE air cleaner and adjusting the carb linkage finally allowed full-throttle opening, and the 440 made a slightly improved 310 rwhp at 5,000 rpm with 387 lb-ft of torque at 3,600. But these numbers were still way short of the 440's potential.
The tri-Y headers seemed to cork the 440's breathing routine. The header on the driver side creates an extremely short path for the two center cylinders, with short 151/48-inch primary pipes dumping into one of the two 131/44-inch downstream Y-pipes. A big 440 with decent heads and cam demands a much larger header. While Hooker makes an affordable 2-inch header for this engine swap, it also requires significant trimming of the inner fenderwell, which Randy wanted to avoid. Further investigation led to Tube Technologies Inc. (TTI) in Corona, California, which specializes in specific Mopar-engine-swap header applications featuring a 2-inch chassis-exit header for 440 Darts.
Randy and pals Mike May and Mike's son J.R. spent a day on the swap, and the results proved rewarding. The headers, while tight, didn't need major tube tweaking. However, Randy had to modify the z-bar so the clutch linkage would clear one tube on the driver side and perform a slight die-grinding to clearance the oil pump, which ended up very close to the chassis. Once they removed the passenger-side torsion bar, everything fell into place. Randy reports that the spark plug for cylinder six was especially challenging, but that's the only real difficult one to change.
The next stop was Los Angeles County Raceway (LACR). Randy made a series of passes on a brutal July morning, which did little to help his quest for a low e.t. With a ridiculous 6,630-foot density altitude (the actual track altitude is 2,700 feet), Randy made a series of runs with a best observed time of 13.51 at 101.54 mph and a best 60-foot time of 1.88. Correcting only for the high altitude, this equates to a 13.07 at 104.96. Randy tried again at night when the air was much cooler, and the Dart responded with a quicker 13.22 at 104.77 mph, which corrects to 12.79 at 108.30. It's also important to mention that part of the overall improvement came from a set of 3.91 gears that replaced the 3.23s that were in the car for it's 14-second pass at Speed World.
Randy is working on lightening the car and practicing better launch techniques in search of even quicker e.t.s. With the exception of the deeper 3.91 gears, none of the changes he made negatively affect the Dart's road-burner status. Randy reports the Dart is especially fun in contests with late-model car owners who are rarely familiar with the acceleration legacy of an old-school 440 Dart. Score one for the 440 Flashback.
|DRAG NEWS |
| ||Observed || ||Corrected || |
| ||E.T. ||MPH ||E.T. ||MPH |
|Baseline ||14.64 || 95.39 ||14.45 || 96.62 |
|After Mods ||13.07 ||104.96 ||12.65 ||108.51 |
|Improvement ||1.57 ||9.57 ||1.8 ||11.89 |