It can be said that engineers are a different breed. We say it with love in our hearts, but the fact remains that any engineer worth his slide rule knows that the idea of strict attention to detail is an understatement. It not only has to be right, it has to be dead nuts. Well, you get our drift.
It seems that Bob Sullivan, 60, out of Fairport, New York, had wanted a 1968 Dart for a long time. As a teenager back in 1970, he had owned a 1969 Dodge Dart Swinger 340. He says that even when he bought it, he wanted a 1968, but there were none immediately available. Sullivan also says that he wasn’t patient enough to wait, so he settled for the ’69. Nearly 40 years later (in 2011), he finally got his ‘68.
This ’68 Dart had been heavily modified by the previous owner with many high-end parts. Sullivan says that it was a very nice looking and unique car. It was black and had a stock 6.1 Hemi engine, Keisler L460E automatic transmission, B&M shifter, RMS front and rear suspension, and a Strange Dana S60 rear end (3.54:1) with the standard Trac-Lok (clutch-type) posi. Sullivan also points out that there were many hidden issues under the paint.
After owning the car for a while, Sullivan realized that he was not happy with the level of detail on the car. As an engineer, Sullivan knows quality when he sees it and knows that it’s hard to come by; that was why chose B&C Auto Restoration of Webster, New York, to build his Dart GT. “I contacted Bill Kilpatrick who is the owner of B&C Auto Restoration to redo the body and mechanical work,” said Sullivan. “I selected B&C as they have a reputation for the high quality level of work that I was looking for.”
B&C began working on the car in early November 2012. Sullivan decided to replace most of the existing mechanical parts (engine, transmission, rear end, dash insert, body trim, etc.) with new parts. In addition, any body panels that contained any bondo or that had any amount of rust damage were replaced with new AMD sheet metal, rather than repairing the panels.
As the car has already been heavily modified, nobody was worried about maintaining the original parts. Now the only original sheet metal on the car is the roof, trunk lid, and front/rear windshield cowls.
That’s right, virtually everything has been replaced. The list reads: AMD quarter panels, AMD door skins, AMD fenders, AMD trunk extensions and AMD front and rear bumpers. Topping it off is an Unlimited Products fiberglass one-piece hood with super stock hood scoop that’s held down with billet aluminum hood pins by Eddie Motorsports.
When all of the pieces had been fitted, B&C Auto Restoration sprayed the body and hood interior with black PPG 2-stage. The hood exterior is PPG black satin while the bumblebee stripe is PPG Pearl White 3-stage. PPG Glamour Clear Coat covers the entire car.
With the paint on, B&C installed the miscellaneous stainless body trim pieces, front/rear windshields, all new window/door/trunk seals, window whiskers, a NOS grille and headlight bezels, tail light lenses and bezels, door hinges, lock cylinders and strikers and a pair of 7-inch round Rampage halogen headlights.
The result is basically a brand new, 45 year old car that looks considerably better than when it rolled off the assembly line. It also handles considerably better, too.
The front suspension features an RMS (Reilly MotorSports) AlterKtion IFS unit fitted with coil over shocks. It has a power rack & pinion fed by a Moroso aluminum power steering reservoir and RMS Anti-Sway bars. Braking chores are handled with race proven Wilwood disc 6 piston disc brakes powered with a Wilwood master cylinder.
Sullivan kept the Strange Engineering/Dana S60 rearend and equipped it with a Detroit Truetrac worm gear posi and heavy-duty aluminum LPW rear support cover. The 4.10:1 gear ratio is a drag racing staple. It’s held aloft with a trick RMS Street Lynx triangulated 4-link, coil over shocks and torque boxes. Wilwood 4-piston disc brakes (with integral parking brake) completes the package.
Engineers believe in building safety into all projects, so Sullivan had B&C connect the front and rear with a SW Race Cars 10 point roll cage roll cage and sub-frame connectors.
Putting plenty of rubber to the road is done with custom Billet Specialties GTX70 wheels (Rear: 17×9.5, Front: 17×7) that have been shod with Goodyear Eagle F1 GSD3 (Rear: 28540R17, Front: 22545R17) tires. Things proved to be a tight fit, so B&C fabbed in a set of 3-inch mini-tubs to the body to get around those huge rear meats.
Even though the Dart was equipped with a HEMI engine when he got it, Sullivan also wanted more power. After shopping around for an engine builder he decided to have Indy Cylinder Heads build a custom engine based on a Mopar Gen III 6.1 Hemi.
Displacing 426 cubic inches the Gen III Hemi is a beast, but ICH took the engine to extremes. ICH engine builder Ken Lazzeri, who previously was the engine builder for the legendary NHRA drag racer “Mr. 4-Speed” Herb McCandless, oversaw the build. He must have had an eyeful as the parts list is impressive.
Once the Compstar crankshaft and rods were in, a set of Mahle coated dish pistons were added. The camshaft is a Comp Cams hydraulic roller cam (lift & duration: .572/.576 – 240/244). The compression ratio is a steady 10.3:1 but still runs on pump gas.
Speaking of which, a pair of 500cfm Edelbrock Performer, dual quad carburetors pour the fuel into the Indy Cylinder Heads through a Mod-Man intake manifold via a Mallory fuel delivery system that pulls from a custom aluminum gas tank by Hot Rod City.
The heads in question are Mopar aluminum 6.1 Hemi heads that have been CNC ported by ICH (2.08 x 1.60) and equipped with Manley coated valve springs. A Melling blueprinted oil pump pulls the oil from a Milodon center sump 7 quart oil pan (with windage tray).
Putting flame to the fuel is with a MSD/6.1 Hemi digital controller ignition through Indy Cylinder Head custom ignition wires by FireCore50. The ignition coils are hidden and mounted under the intake manifold. Getting the burnt fuel out is done with TTi 2-inch headers (polished ceramic coated with thermal barrier), TTi 3-inch exhaust tubes, MagnaFlow mufflers and TTi exhaust tips.
Keeping things cool is easy thanks to the BeCool custom polished cross flow radiator (with a/c condenser) that was equipped with a Flex-A-Lite variable speed radiator fan.
The engine just looks cool, too. The heads are capped with ICH cast aluminum with black powder coat and custom CNC engraving, an Edelbrock cast aluminum air cleaner makes sure there’s clean air and the March Performance billet serpentine pulley system keeps things rolling in time and stainless braided hoses sprout almost everywhere.
The result is that Indy Cylinder Heads (yes, they’re in Indianapolis, IN.) built a monster that produces a dyno tested and documented 660HP @ 6,900RPM. And yes; on pump gas.
Harnessing power like that and getting it to the track is done with a Mopar/A833 4-speed transmission that’s shifted with a Hurst pistol grip shifter by Passon Performance. Cool pistol grip inserts have a hand-carved black water buffalo horn by Gunslinger. But we digress.
A McLeod Racing clutch features dual discs with McLeod hydraulic throw-out bearing and master cylinder and a Mopar Performance bell housing. Style and performance is upheld with a Ring Brothers billet clutch reservoir. B&C installed the engine, transmission and even made the driveshaft.
Sullivan says the interior was all business when he got the car. It had no heat or a/c and since it was a black car with a black interior, it was not pleasant to drive when the temperatures got above 90 degrees. He had Legendary Auto Interiors cover the stock Dodge seats and door panels with pearl white vinyl, though they were installed at Rooster’s Rod Shop of Gaffney, South Carolina. A black headliner and carpeting complete the look.
A Billet Specialties steering wheel (featuring a black leather wrap) sits atop a XV Motorsports tilt steering column while a host of Auto Meter Sport-Comp II gauges (tachometer, speedometer, oil pressure, water temperature, amps, fuel level, shift light) all fit perfectly into the Peak Dashes custom brushed aluminum dash insert.
An electronically controlled Vintage Air Gen IV Air conditioning with blows through the Vintage Air adjustable heat/air conditioning vents. The electrical system is all Ron Francis, including the new dash switches.
In only 9 short months, Sullivan finally got the Dart GT that he’s been wanting for literally all his life and he fully credits B&C Auto Restoration, along with Ken Lazzeri at Indy Cylinder Heads, with making it all happen.
Of course, there’s plenty of Sullivan in this beautiful 1968 Dodge Dart GT. Like any good engineer, he could envision what he wanted to achieve, he then set it to paper with all the factors weighed in and then he set about making it happen. He used his analytical brain to find the best people to work on his project, thus ensuring success.
Like we said, engineers are a different breed. But we say that with love in our hearts.