Friday, July 29, 2011

Car Of The Day: July 29, 2011

Today's car of the day is Hot Wheels' 1968 Dodge Dart Hemi.

The Dodge Dart is an automobile built by the Dodge division of the Chrysler Corporation from 1960-1976 in North America, with production extended to later years in various other markets. The Dart was introduced as a lower-priced, shorter wheelbase, full-size Dodge in 1960 and 1961, became a mid-size car for 1962, and finally was a compact from 1963-1976. Chrysler had previously applied the "Dart" name to a Ghia-built show car in 1956.

The project planners proposed the name Dart, only to have executives demand an expensive research program which produced the name Zipp. This was promptly rejected in favor of Dart. The name found favor as the market had been recently introduced to a new military aircraft called the Convair F-106 Delta Dart, commonly known as the "Delta Dart", in a marketing attempt to appeal to the excitement surrounding the Space Race during the early 1960s.

For more information and pictures of the real car please visit: Dodge Dart

A great model from Hot Wheels, and the authentic racing graphics really make it stand out!

In 1967, the Dart entered the Sports Car Club of America's (SCCA) new Sedan Class racing series. For racing in this series, the compact cars, which included Ford Falcons and Plymouth Barracudas as well as foreign makes, were prepared like stock cars on the NASCAR Grand National circuit. "Baby Grands" was the nickname coined for these cars. Darts were powered by the 4-barrel 273 V-8 and were equipped with roll cages and 15 in (381 mm) wheels with fat tires. Bob Tullius, widely known for his Quaker State Group 44-marked cars, was one of the first to drive the Dodge Dart in the sedan class, and with notable success.

Although racers like Dick Landy and Don Garlits had modified Darts in the mid-60s to run in the NHRA Funny Car class using the 426 Hemi, Super Stock class racing of the Dart was almost non-existent due to the small V-8s available. In 1968, Dodge contracted Hurst Performance to build a limited number of 440 in³ V8-wedge and 426 Hemi-powered Darts to compete in the SS/B class as the LO23 Hurst Hemi Dart. Dart body shells were shipped to Hurst who would install a magnesium cross ram-inducted 426 Hemi into the engine bay, facilitated by sledge hammer hits to the fender wells to make room for the Hemi's installation. The rear wheel well arches were also modified in the same manner the shock towers were modified up front. Features included a fiberglass nose, fenders and hood, lightened bumpers, no side view mirrors, radio and heater delete, no soundproofing in the floor and firewall, no back seat, a trunk-mounted battery, acid dipped doors, belt straps for window cranks, Lexan windows, and Dodge A100 van seats mounted on drilled seat rails for decreased weight. These Darts rode on 7 x 14" steel wheels and came in two shades of gray primer with the nose a darker shade than the rest of the body. When shipped to a dealership, a Hemi Dart had a disclaimer on the window stating "Warning: this Super Stock vehicle is to be shipped on the bottom level only of all rail and truck transportation"; this was to ensure that the Hemi's low-hanging oil pan would not get damaged and keep the fiberglass nose from being damaged on any low-hanging obstacles. The Plymouth version was the Hurst Hemi Barracuda.

These cars would successfully cover the quarter mile with elapsed times in the ten second range. According to Chrysler staff engineer Larry Shepard, the majority of these Darts were Hemi powered, all though a small pilot run of fifty 440-powered Darts were also built in 1968. "In 1969," said Shepard, "we built over 600 440-powered Darts-basically the same as the 383 GTS, except for the engine."

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