'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.
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 |
This chart shows both observed and corrected times for the Dart. The Baseline run was produced at Speed World outside Phoenix at a track elevation of 1,250 feet. The After Mods run was measured at LACR where the track altitude is 2,750 feet. The conversions used for both tracks are NHRA altitude factors and only correct for track elevation, not weather conditions.
Density AltitudeEveryone knows that cool, dry air is best for making power. One way to evaluate the density of air is to equate it to altitude. Someone much smarter than us came up with the idea of density altitude, which uses an altitude figure that equates to oxygen content in the air. The variables that determine density altitude are atmospheric pressure, ambient air temperature, and vapor pressure-which is another way to look at humidity. All these factors combine to create density altitude. Zero density altitude would be at sea level with an air temperature of 60 degree F, an atmospheric pressure of 14.7 psi, and zero humidity. As pressure drops, the temperature rises; as vapor pressure increases, the density altitude will climb. It's also possible to achieve a density altitude of below sea level, generally with a combination of high pressure and low ambient air temperature.
'Ask Randy to tell you about how he trashed the original Hemi Road Runner exhaust manifolds, which now command $1,000 a set.
Schumacher Creative Services
Tube Technologies Inc. (TTI)