If we were in the car restoration business in northern Wisconsin and Fred Kappus decided to open his shop down the street from us, we'd have serious cause for concern. We'd need to assess whether our work was up to snuff or else he'd quickly put us out of business. Just look at this Dart he built-it's awesome.
After several years of working at Muscle Car Restorations in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, Fred and his dad began hatching plans for Fred to start a restoration business of his own. To showcase his talents, they agreed that he should build a car he could use as a promotional and marketing tool. This Dart is that car. We spotted it at the '10 Car Craft Summer Nationals in St. Paul and instantly knew we needed to run a feature on it in the magazine. From the glass-smooth Viper Red paint to the killer rake and stance and nasty-sounding stroker under the hood, this car just had way too much good stuff going for it.
Fred spent a little more than two years working on this car on nights and weekends. Originally, it was a brown-on-brown Slant Six commuter vehicle that no one would have looked at twice. Now it draws a crowd everywhere it goes. Though we said in the intro that Fred built this car to showcase his business, don't think for a minute that he is just out to make a buck and couldn't care less about cars. He's a diehard Mopar guy. "Yup, guilty," he tells us. "I was fascinated with the Hemi Dart when I was growing up. I loved the concept." Though he couldn't afford to build a Hemi Dart, he clearly had the big-power-in-a-light-car concept in his crosshairs when he put together his '67. "I took that idea and refined it," he says, referring to his desire to have a car that could turn corners well in addition to generating massive acceleration in a straight line.
Fred finished building the car in February 2009 and opened his business, Fast Freddie's Rod Shop, in late September 2008. He is happy to report to us that, though he is still a one-man show, his stunning Dart has earned him a shop full of business already, and he may need to hire a second guy to help keep up. Judging by the quality of the Dart, he may need to hire an entire crew pretty soon.
Who: Fred Kappus
What: '67 Dodge Dart
Where: Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Be sure to sample a pint or two of Leinenkugel's Big Butt Doppelbock while you're there.
Engine: A 400 is a B- (rather than RB) block with a 4.340-inch bore and, originally, a 3.38-inch stroke. Fred tells us he chose this platform because the blocks are less expensive than RBs, and the lower deck height means he can make bigger headers fit better inside the cramped engine compartment of his A-body. Bored 0.030 inch and with a 4.250-inch Eagle stroker crank, this mighty 503-inch engine was machined, balanced, and assembled by Jeff Fiala at Wheeler Dyno Service. Like the crank, the pistons and rods are also forgings from Eagle. They work in conjunction with a pair of Edelbrock Performer RPM heads, and the combination yields a 10.25:1 compression ratio. The cam is a hydraulic flat-tappet stick from Comp with specs of 231 degrees duration and 0.480-inch lift. Harland Sharp roller rocker arms take a little weight and friction out of the top end of the valvetrain. The intake is a matching Performer RPM, and it inhales through a Holley 950 HP double-pumper carburetor. TTI headers measuring 2 inches at the primaries and 3.5 inches at the collectors are shoehorned between the shock towers, and they empty to 3.5-inch intermediate pipes with a pair of Quick Time Performance electric exhaust cutouts. This combination is good for a dyno-proven 555 hp at 5,300 rpm and 650 lb-ft at 3,700. "It runs on 91-octane," Fred happily points out.