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.”
Add it all up, and you get a 2,900-pound, four-linked, 1,400hp street machine capable of running mid-8s at the strip, and putting around town on cruise nights without pegging the water-temp gauge. Best of all, Scot built the whole thing himself with the help of his buddies, and wisely spread out the financial hit over 11 years to finish the car to his exacting standards. With all that Scot’s Dart has going for it, you can’t help but wonder why the Pro Street trend ever lost steam. The car’s heavy-hitting yet perfectly streetable motor combo, attention to detail, functionality, and universally tasteful execution hints at what Pro Street might have evolved into if it hadn’t become the butt of all gearhead jokes. Even so, thanks to one man’s flair for extreme solutions, now everyone knows what Pro Street in 2012 is supposed to look like.
’71 Dodge Dart
Engine: Nothings screams street cred like a Hemi. Based on a Mopar Performance block, the Elephant motor checks in at a healthy 528 ci, thanks to a 4.500-inch bore and a 4.150-inch stroke. The short-block boasts a Mopar Performance forged crank, Eagle steel connecting rods, and Wiseco 10.75:1 forged pistons. On the induction side, massaged Mopar Performance aluminum cylinder heads with massive 2.25/1.94-inch valves and an Indy Cylinder Head single-plane intake manifold provide the air supply. The hungry Hemi ingests fuel through a Holley 1,050-cfm Dominator carb and relies on a Crane 262/274-at-0.050 mechanical roller cam with 0.659/0.659-inch lift to actuate the valves. The distributor, coil, and ignition box are all from MSD, and exhaust exits through custom 2.25-inch headers and dual 4-inch Flowmaster mufflers. For days when 800 naturally aspirated horsepower isn’t enough, Scot cracks open a 600hp hit of spray, courtesy of a Nitrous Oxide Systems fogger. Dave Kropp gets credit for the bolting the Hemi together.
Transmission: Splitting quadruple-digit power into manageable doses is a beefed up Pro Trans Torqueflite 727 with a transbrake and reverse-manual valvebody. It’s matched with a Coan 4,500-stall converter and shifted with a Hurst handle.
Rearend: It’s a shame that something as pretty as the CNC-machined aluminum Mark Williams 9-inch rearend has to hide beneath the car. The housing is home to monster 40-spline axles, a lightened spool, 4.11:1 gears, and a billet yoke. An Inland Empire 4-inch aluminum driveshaft hooks it up to the trans.
Suspension: As expected in a tube-chassis machine, the Dart’s suspension is all heavy-duty drag racing fare. Up front are Strange control arms and shocks. Hypercoil springs transfer weight back to a custom four-link rear suspension with AFCO coilovers.
Brakes: Strange Pro Steel discs with four-piston calipers, front and rear, scrub off speed after each pass. A Wilwood master cylinder and proportioning valve meter the brake fluid.
Wheels/Tires: With no class rules to contend with, Scot went crazy with the rollers. Out back, 32x17.5x15-inch Mickey Thompson ET Streets wrap around 15x14-inch Weld Magnum Pro wheels. In the front are Mickey Thompson 26x7.5x15 skinnies and 15x3.5-inch Welds.
Paint/Body: In addition to the typical dent and rust repairs, the Dart’s gone on a diet with a fiberglass hood and trunk lid. Scot and his buddies did all the bodywork themselves, and Grady Colvin sprayed the car in PPG Delstar acrylic-enamel black paint.
Interior: Race cars aren’t built for comfort, but the Dart’s interior is as nice as you’ll see in any drag machine. Inside the cabin are Kirkey seats, a Grant steering wheel, Auto Meter gauges, a Chassisworks switch panel, and a Safecraft fire system. Custom aluminum door panels, powedercoated by Scot and his friend, Matt Stone, spruce up the interior.