Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage – The 1968-69 Dodge Dart GTS 440

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Welcome to the Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage, a regular feature which aims to expand the notion of what a muscle car is, and to foster appreciation for cars that might have escaped your notice. The Dodge Dart was all new in the 1967 model year, with crisp lines and enduring engineering that would last the next decade. The design was both timeless and modern, but can it be called a Muscle Car? Well, let’s take a look at a rare Mopar, the very muscular Dart GTS 440.

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With its standard 340-cid V8, the ’68 Dart GTS was a worthy member of Dodge’s new performance-car group, the Scat Pack. Rated at a conservative 275 bhp, a GTS would run mid-14s at 99 mph. The optional 383 V-8 was rated at 335 bhp, but the big block weighed so much, that it really wasn’t much quicker than the nimbler 340. Of course, that didn’t stop Mother Mopar from stuffing in a 440-cid V8. All in all, about 50 ’68 and ’69 Darts were fitted with the big-block Magnum, with its 375-bhp factory rating.

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Dodge shipped 383-spec Darts (minus powertrain) along with factory-prepped 440 engines to Hurst-Campbell, Inc., a Michigan aftermarket company. Hurst-Campbell performed the conversions, Dodge representatives inspected the work, and the cars were forwarded to Grand Spaulding Auto Sales in Chicago, a performance-oriented Dodge dealer. These cars got vehicle identification numbers but were not covered by the factory warranty. The 383 designation was left on the cars, giving an edge to their “sleeper” status.

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With even more weight in front and no power steering (it wouldn’t fit), 440 Darts were good for little but all-out straight-line attacks. So irresistible was the setup that a thief stole Car and Driver’s brand-new, bright blue 440 Dart test car from its New York parking space. Documenting the heist in its October 1969 issue, the magazine said the Dart soon surfaced “at a local street racing highway and cleaned up. The car, camouflaged in light gray primer… had put down a brace of Corvettes that had gained some local renown.” The thief was eventually caught red-handed at New York National Speedway, where the Dart was embarrassing all rivals. Appropriately enough, it was running in the dragway’s “Hot Car” class.

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So, what’s the secret to this hot little Muscle Car? With the weight of under 3,800 lbs., and a 440 Cubic Inch Chrysler V8 producing 375 HP and over 440 ft./lbs. of torque, 0 – 60 times were said to be in the 5 second range. It was written that 1/4 miles times were a little over 13 seconds, at a speed of 107. And that was with the Torqueflite 727 Automatic. Pricing for these brutes? At the time, a little over $4,000.

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At this point, I have to ask the question: Is this an Obscure Muscle Car, and does it deserve a place in the Garage? Well, I don’t think I really have to ask, do I? However, how many of you knew how few of these were build? Let me know what you think! Please note: Most of the cars pictured are not true GTS 440′s!

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Please Note: All Images are screen grabs from around the web. If you want credit for any image, please let me know in the comments section. Thank You!

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