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1966 Dodge 440 Build - Build An Affordable Street Car

Finding A Usable Car From The '60s Is Half The Battle. The Other Half Is Restoring The Body Without Spending Millions. We'll Show You How To Build An Affordable Street Car.

By , Photography by , Steve Strope

It seems the entire automotive media world is caught up with high-dollar cars that most car crafters can't afford. Since CC has always been about affordable street cars and doing the work yourself, we've run across a buildup that's budget conscious and fun. We've accompanied Steve Strope and his Pure Vision shop through several past adventures, and while his shop could be correctly accused of building those aforementioned image cars, he also understands that not everyone travels in those circles. That includes his stepson, Seth. So when it came time for this high school senior's first car, they rejected the typical Honda route, choosing instead to go for a worthy, if not slightly abused, mid-'60s Mopar. We decided to follow along on Seth's rite of passage that from the beginning has been filled with more than a few bumps, dents, and creases. But that's what makes the story worth telling.

The Dodge 440 The plan started out simply enough. Steve's friend Daryl Finch owns Mopar Flats (760/963-7809), located in the high desert north of Los Angeles, and is well known in the Mopar fraternity as having either the car or the parts you need. Amid his collection of rare Pentastar performers was an interesting '66 Dodge 440 B-Body. While you might think this means it also came with a big-block powerplant of the same displacement, you'd be wrong. The Dodge 440 moniker merely identifies this as a two-door hardtop that looks a lot like a '66 Dodge Charger with an abbreviated roof line. This Dodge 440 happened to be powered by the last of the polyspherical combustion-chambered 318 A-engines.

While less than impressed by its baby-blue hue and Bondo-smeared hoodscoop, Steve and Seth saw great potential in the forlorn cruiser and were encouraged by the fact that the car had an intact and relatively rust-free floorpan and trunk floor. They settled on a price of $2,000, and the car soon found its way to the Pure Vision shop, where Steve and Seth immediately took on the task of stripping the Mopar of its drivetrain and paint in search of a pristine body. What they found, as with most old-car body resto efforts, was more work than anticipated. It goes with the territory.

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