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Pro Street 2012 - Scot Doyal's '71 Dark

Scot Doyal's '71 Dart

By Stephen Kim, Photography by Stephen Kim

We all want our cars to sit right, but what kind of mad man builds a tube-frame chassis to make it happen? That’s like hiring Bernie Madoff to clean up some minor accounting errors, or running for Congress because you have a passing interest in petty, white-collar crime. For a dude with a flair for extreme solutions, merely building a tube-chassis ’71 Dart just wasn’t enough for Scot Doyal. No, he had to pack it to the brim with an 800hp Hemi, then throw a 600hp fogger unit on top. The whole thing weighs a measly 2,900 pounds, and the end result is a big-and-littles street machine that sounds so 1982 on paper, but looks so 2012 in its meticulous execution.

Back in the ’80s, Scot raced a ’66 Nova in NHRA Super Street that ran 10.90s with a hot tunnel-ram–equipped 355 small-block. He sold it to help pay for law school, but by 2000 he was ready to get back in the game. “Even as a Chevy guy, I’ve always lusted after Hemi motors, but I knew that if I ever built one I’d have to put it in a Mopar. The ’70 and ’71 Dodge Darts are right up my alley because they have similar body lines to a Chevy II,” Scot explains. “When I found this car, it was gold with a rotted-out black vinyl top, a dead Slant Six, no headliner, and millions of ants and spiders scattered inside. The seller’s girlfriend said, ‘I can’t believe anyone would want to buy this piece of junk,’ but for $1,100 I couldn’t pass it up.”

Initially, the plan was to Hemify the Dart with a 528ci Elephant, paint it black, and call it a day. However, as Scot started inspecting more A-bodies up close, he felt that none of them sat right. “I wanted to get this car slammed to the ground like a proper drag car. One day my friend, Cam Bierman, who has built many NHRA Pro Stock chassis in the past, said that if I wanted to get the car to sit right, the stock torsion-bar suspension had to go. He recommended building a strut front end, and that’s what spawned the tube-chassis idea. I love racing and the technical side of hot rodding, so the challenge of learning how to build a chassis to SFI 25.4 specifications really intrigued me.”

From that point forward, the pair struck up a deal. Scot went into the shop on weekends to cut, grind, and notch all the chrome-moly tubing, and Cam agreed to bend and weld it all up. During the process, Scot cut out the entire floor of the car and put the body on a jig. After finishing the chassis, he dropped the body back over the new tube frame, fabricated custom attachment points, and welded everything back up. “You wouldn’t expect it to be a tube-chassis car when looking at it from the outside, so that catches a lot of people off guard. Cutting out the fenders made it much easier to stuff the Hemi under the hood as well,” Scot says. “For the inner fenders and door panels, I made cardboard templates, cut sheets of aluminum, and learned how to bead-roll. Cam was a great coach and tutor on this project, and I couldn’t have built this car without him. I also have to thank my buddy, Grady Colvin, for helping me with the paint and bodywork.”

By Stephen Kim
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