Our New Project: 1964 Dodge Dart Hot Rod!

1964 Dodge Dart

Take a look at what we bought today! I spotted this ratty looking Dodge Dart on our local craigslist and couldn’t resist. The ad mentioned that the owner of 25 years had built the car into a hot rod. The suspension and brakes were upgraded using parts presumably from a ’73 Dart. The most exciting part though was the 360 V8 under the hood. It sounded like a lot of fun and one test drive was all it took to convince me! It needs some work, but I’m really excited about this one. We are still trying to figure out exactly what we have, but hopefully some of you will be able to help us crack the code…

Hurst Shifter

First, lets talk about what we do know. The seller, Dave, told us that when they got the car almost 30 years ago the original 273 V8 smoked badly and needed a rebuild. One day while he was driving down the road he passed a fire station and he noticed some firemen who were practicing their rescue skills on an old Dart. They had already cut the car in half, so Dave walked up and asked what they were planning on doing with the remains. They said he could have it, so he dragged it home and started the painstaking process of swapping the parts. The bucket seats came from a newer Mopar and I’m guessing that the Hurst shifter and 4-speed are original to car!

360 Four Barrel

The newer Dart benefited from better braking in the form of front discs and a dual master cylinder. So those went in along with the suspension. Dave was smart enough to replace any worn items while he was in there. It’s been about two decades since the work was done so it needs some refreshing now, but the hard work of sourcing and replacing everything has already been done. There’s some rust in the quarters and the paint is pretty dry. We were able to drive it back to the office though without too much trouble and even managed a few burnouts along the way. We already replaced the leaky fuel pump and have started to make a list of todos.

Block Numbers

One area that we could use your guys help with though is determining what all we have here. We were able to confirm that the engine is indeed a 360 (if you squint you can see “360” on the second line), but weren’t able to determine much else from these numbers. This is the area right below the head on the driver’s side and from what we’ve read, the numbers don’t look right. Could this be a warranty replacement or aftermarket block? Perhaps ours source is just wrong, but I’m sure one of you can help us figure out which engine we have. There is a four-barrel intake on top of it and it does go like stink.

Racked Stance

You can’t see them in the photos, but there’s a pair of studded snow tires out back! That might not be the best way to get more traction, but they’re a lot cheaper than slicks… New tires will go on the shipping list along with a windshield and interior. The exterior will be mostly left alone, but we might spray the rims black instead of red. It may not be the most desirable popular muscle car, but our little Dart should be able to provide a similar experience for a lot less money. It’s funny actually because I was just thinking that it would be fun to get a car we could take to the drag strip this summer, but didn’t think we could afford anything interesting.

Daves Red Rocket

Well, we found something very interesting at a very good price. It’s a blast to drive too! I think Josh stated it best today when he said that the Singer was a fine dance while the Dart is more like WWF wrestling. Dave loved it so much that he even had this custom license plate frame made. We left the frame with him as a memento and jumped in to start a new adventure of our own. Follow along because this is going to be fun!

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Comments

  1. Gary

    Nice find! I’ll definitely be following along with this one.

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    • patrick

      Wait till you find out you can change the front K member and put a big block in like a 440.

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  2. Dirty Dingus McGee

    You should be able to get a lot of answers here;

    http://www.allpar.com/

    There are folks there that can answer ANY questions.

    Looks like a fun project. Keep us updated please.

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  3. Bob S

    Love a cheap car that goes fast. Have fun . The best cars come from Idaho

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  4. Rick

    Leave the rims red. Just sayin’

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    • Rocco Member

      I agree!!!!!!!!
      Didn’t some performance Darts (late ’60’s) have dog dish hub cap’s with body matching colored rims?

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      • Puhnto

        I’m with Rick and Rocco. Leave ’em red!

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  5. Blindmarc

    I built several a- bodies that were 360 powered. My last one was stroked, and over 450 hp dynod,. My wife made me sell it, and the guy that bought it called me two weeks later saying the track he took. It to, the people were asking how he built it.

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  6. NotchNut

    I believe if you get under the car and look on the driver side of the block you should see the 7 digit casting number followed by the 3 digit displacement. On the front of the drivers side of the block it usually has a date, plant, and displacement (example: 5(yr), M(plant), displacement (318, 340, 360, etc.). I hope this helps.

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  7. ron h

    Leave the rims red! Keep the mild mannered look about it.

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  8. David Montanbeau

    wow

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  9. Steven C

    This thing rawks! Love it!

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  10. roger

    Love it,Love it,Love it !

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  11. bowtiecarguy
  12. Pfk1106

    Cool find, just the way it is….real sleeper potential.

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  13. Van

    I don’t love the look of this thing.
    I’d say make a factory looking billboard car.
    Instead of AAR CUDA
    DAR DART
    Maybe plum crazy with black billboards.
    Instead of the road runner cartoon, maybe a Wyle coyote. Oh WAR DART.

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  14. Jay E.

    Ought to do some amazing one wheel burnouts… Leave the rims red. Put on glasspacks. Scare old ladies and children

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    • Josh Josh Staff

      The side pipes do a good job of scaring them already! We went down a side street near our office and we got some terrified looks from the neighbors. We weren’t even doing burnouts or flooring it, the thing is just that loud!

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      • Rocco Member

        That is soooo cool. Just what a Hot Rod should be!!!!!!!

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  15. Matt

    Dating chrysler stuff can be confusing.. the motor should have a big “360” cast into it under the head on I can’t remember which side.. next to that should be the month and year cast into the block same size and font.. other date codes are on a 10,000 day calendar. Here’s a link to help you with those.
    http://maxwedge.com/articles/10k.php
    The car was likely a manual originally, as you’d need to cut, and weld in a different trans tunnel to make the A-833 fit into an automatic car.. Evidence of this would be pretty obvious from underneath, or by pulling the carpet.. My guess is that it was probably a three speed to begin with based on the “170” trim level..
    I’ve got a four door ’64 Dart 270 that was an original 273 car, and a ’63 Valiant slant six.. both pushbutton autos. If you need parts, try forabodiesonly.com. They’ve got a very active classified section. Great luck for you that somebody’s swapped discs into it.. The original 9″ drums on all four corners can induce code brown on mountain roads and panic stops without severe ventilation modification.

    I’m jealous.. When I said that my Dart was a 273 car, I mean that the previous owner took my car’s drivetrain and swapped it into a ’64 Dart GT with a slant six just to sell both cars.. Both were super clean and unmolested.. The Slant he left my car with has bad piston rings and smokes like a 2-stroke. I’ve been collecting all of the rare ’64-’66 v8 parts I can to put my ’68 318 from my first car (’68 Satellite) into the Dart. All I need is the early A body V8 centerlink. Anybody have one?

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    • Rocco Member

      Matt,
      Good catch about the stick. Also, the end of the crank where the trans input go’s through the pilot bushing, needs to be deeper, cause the input shaft is longer than an auto torque converter. So I would say the eng. is also factory stick. Maybe the 360 combo was a 4-speed car to begin with? The Hurst shifter does look factory.

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    • Jesse Jesse Staff

      The seller claimed that it was originally a 273/4-speed car. The vin confirms the V8, but I’m not 100% sure on the transmission. The 360 was supposedly connected to an automatic. Surprisingly, I’m having a hard time finding information online about option codes and such. It would be pretty cool to discover that someone ordered a base car with the V8 and a 4-speed though.

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      • Fiete T

        A lot of 360’s came in trucks and, after ’73, in Dart Sports and Dusters. I had a ’68 Dart GT (with a 318) that came with the pilot hole drilled out on the forged crank. And it was original to the car…

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  16. AER

    American Racing Torq Thrust D wheels and leave everything else alone.

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  17. Matt

    Rocco,

    Right.. As far as I know, the only small blocks that had their cranks drilled for both were 340s.. Wouldn’t that be cool, finding a 340 in there instead of a 360

    Jesse,

    Early sixties Mopars didn’t have their options documented as well as the later ones.. On the inner fender next to the battery should be a stamped metal tag.. That may have some options on it. There’s sites online that will help you decode it, as well as apps. There’s also Mopar dorks who memorize the options.. I prefer driving them, myself

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    • Rocco Member

      That would be cool if it had the 340.

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  18. Matt

    Also, Jesse.. If it’s been converted to ’73 discs, that means you’ve got the big bolt pattern wheels now.. Check the rears. There’s a chance he didn’t swap the (likely 8.25) rear end into your car, which would mean you’ve still got the original 7.25 rear with small bolt pattern axles in the back.. It would also mean that you’re likely to shred it with that 360. I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t have, other than having to shorten the driveshaft, but stranger things have happened.

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    • Rocco Member

      Matt,
      More good thought’s.
      I would’ve put the larger ring and pinion (8.25) also if I had both halves of the burnt car.
      I did a conversion on a Bronco to a ’93 Lightning. Both truck diffs. were 8.8, but the Lightning has a ribbed housing for strength, so I swapped it also. Glad I did. It wasn’t hard at all.

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    • Jesse Jesse Staff

      Here’s the rear end. Looks like a 8.25 to me.

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      • Rocco Member

        It’s not a 7.25, as they have a backing plate(integral type).
        8.25 is a chunk type. That is diffidently 8.25.
        Maybe even a posi?

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      • Matt

        Jesse.. You’ve struck gold! That’s an 8 3/4 rear end.. The 8 1/4 is oval shaped with bolts on the back side.. The beautiful thing about the 8 3/4 rear besides it’s strength, is you can pop the backing plates, pull the axles out about three inches, and drop the pumpkin out the front at the track in less than half an hour, swap in a crazy gear set, go drag racing, and put your airplane gears back in to drive home on.. The entire unit can be set up on a bench with pinion lash and all outside of the car.. an open 8 3/4 2.76 gear set would set you back about $200.. A 3.55 or better, especially a sure grip unit, will cost you close to $800 or more.. And that’s just for the center section.. Not the housing or axles. Whatever you paid for the car was well worth it. As a comparison, I’ve easily spent close to $2000 just to put a v8 back into my ’64.. That’s two year only v8 parts including radiator, motor mounts, exhaust manifolds, 90 degree oil filter adaptor, Kelsey-Hayes factory disc brake setup, cable shifted v8 904 torqueflite, gas pedal, throttle cable, and linkage, and a bunch of other super specific crap I can’t even think of at the moment… None of that includes the early LA 318 I’ve got in my basement which happens to have the right water pump and timing cover to work in an early A body v8 application. Purchase price of my otherwise super clean Dart was $1500.. If I get a competent v8 cruiser out of that clean body, I’ll consider $4,000 well spent.. Not as an investment, so much as what I’d be willing to buy the car for from a third party, my labor notwithstanding.. Early A bodies are a labor of love… You’ve married well.

        P.S. Double check the bolt pattern of your rear.. The A Body 8 3/4 rear could have been either small or big bolt pattern.. If your front calipers are four piston units, they’re small bolt pattern Kelsey-Hayes.. If they are a one piston sliding job, they’re a big bolt pattern hub.. I don’t think the Kelsey-Hayes units were available after ’68.. But your car’s a mutt, there’s no telling what you’ve got until you try to put a spare tire on in the rain on the side of the road..

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      • Fiete T

        8 3/4″, has the smooth back- ‘pumpkin’ bolts in on the front. Also, if it is 4.5″ bolt pattern, you have the “Big-bolt” pattern. Find a Cordoba, NY or St. Regis and you can swap on 11 3/4″ rotors & calipers (15″ wheels minimum to clear the calipers & adapters)…
        4″ pattern? Small-bolt pattern. 10 3/4″ rotors.4-piston, Kelsey-Hayes calipers. Smaller wheel bearings. PITA for wheel selection and getting parts for.

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      • Fiete T

        Get the cheapo ‘coil overs’ off. The upper shock cross member is not made to take any kind of load- in fact it was the weak link on the ’75-’76 AHB “Cop package” Darts & Valiants. If you have any old A-bodies in junkyards or on Craigslist, look for ones with V8’s, AC, front sway bar, and/or a call out for HD suspension. The torsion bars will have on one end .892 (right) and .893 (left); this is the ‘340’ handling suspension.
        Yes, I know these cars very, very well-

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  19. Skip

    Nice to see so many comments. I’m glad that someone resurrected the little critter. My second car was a slant-six ’63 Valiant, and one of my best friends “way back when” drove a ’65 slant-six Dart. My Valiant had 28K on it when my parents bought it for me for $800 in 1965. It had been in an unusual wreck and both rear fenders had been damaged. I had been driving a ’55 Plymouth Belvedere that had gone on the fritz and my dad had taken it to a mechanic friend and had spotted the Valiant. That was one he couldn’t resist and figured that it would last me for a while. Sure enough, it did. I drove it until 1973,when it had well over 100K on it and was on its second motor our of a ’62 Dart. The car was a light green, about the shade of the old Border Patrol cars (you have to be here in TX to recognize that). I worked as news director for a local radio station and used the Valiant as our station’s news car; plus I was involved in C.B. radio at the time. To that end I had twin whip antennas (which were popular back then) on the car. Since I had to go to my share of accidents, etc. for the station, I had red lights in the rear deck and amber behind the grille. Other stations who owned their own news cars had amber or blue beacons. So what was funny was one Sunday I had worked on a local story and had headed to the station to wrap things up. At the time our building was outside of town. On Sunday afternoons the Spanish-language show was on. When I drove up in the little green Valiant, I saw the rear door to the station fly open and five or six Hispanic guys take off on foot across the neighbor’s cotton field! I walked inside and Jorge, the announcer, was laughing almost wildly. I asked what was so funny, and he said that when his friends saw my green car it scared them. Thinking it was the Border Patrol, out the back door they went! Hmmmm….I wonder why!

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  20. John

    Back in the day Mopar turned out some butt ugly cars, that being one of them. Now they look Cool as all get out! I bet if you throw cheap paint job on it and give it the nicest wheels you can find that will fit (and are cheap) you’ll get more smiles and thumbs up then any other car of the era. Now that you’ve crossed the line into car Nerdom you might as well wear the hat and enjoy the fun!

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    • Jesse Jesse Staff

      Why would we want to paint it or change the rims? I bet we will get more looks leaving it just the way it is!

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      • Rocco Member

        Agreed!!!!

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  21. Steve

    I have a special place in my heart for old Darts. My roommate in college had a yellow one, a ’70 I believe. Had the slant 6 and it was virtually indestructible. Drove it everywhere for many, many thousands of miles. I imagine that it still could be on the road today, it was that durable. You can’t kill these things!

    And keep those rims red and throw on some chrome hubcaps!

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  22. GlenK

    Every once in a while one comes across a car someone was building for themselves and you really score. In my case a Type 3 VW, the fellow built it as a track car and spent a lot of time and I might add money. In this case the fellow found something else that caught his interest and dumped the VW. In your case he spent a lot of time getting all the basics done and all you have to do is finish it to your standard and and work out the bugs. It took me a year of doing little corrections, and each time I drive it after a little fix, the better it feels and the more fun I have.

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  23. stillrunners

    like was said – it’s hard to put in a 4 speed hump for a 833 4 speed in and make it look original – so look there for dirt and such…..the data plate might help – I’ve had a few 64/65 4 speed cars that have since passed and still have the data plates for those….so pm me if you wish….also the data plate books for mopar’s….. that’s the factory V/8 emblem on the fender….you could take it off to look under it – the inspection plate behind the tire comes off for easy access…..does it have a front sway bar ? most early ones didn’t the later 67 up are to wide….the little hump should carry the little 4 speed plate for 64-66…..nice car

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    • Jesse Jesse Staff

      Here’s the fender plate. There’s not much info online about the option codes on these so any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

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  24. Matt

    Hey! I happened to think. If you want clues towards your gearbox’s vintage, take a magnet to the bellhousing. Early sixties bellhousings were cast iron jobs that were either drilled for a three speed, or a four speed. Seventies units were aluminum, and drilled for both.

    Sorry for jacking this thread.. I’ve owned around thirty Mopars, and have amassed enough experience and a parts collection to have a broad sense of what swaps between what.. I love all kinds of strange cars.. I used to work on British, Italian, and French sports cars for a living.. But I’ve always ended up driving old Mopars.. They just keep going.

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    • Jesse Jesse Staff

      We will give it a try. Thanks Mike!

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      • Fiete T

        If it is cast iron, is it OD? They did make an OD A-833 for a short while in the mid-’70’s in the short A & F-body case. Heavier than the aluminum version, but stronger, too…
        There are two in my shed-

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  25. Gary Merly

    redrims redrims 🙁

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  26. Tom S.

    Where’s the smokey burnout photo? You know we all want to see one. Let’s see you shred those snow tires!

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  27. stillrunners

    343 is the code for the 4 speed per Galen’s and another source book I have – but I think that’s on the paper sheet they put behind the clove box card board – or under the back seat ? might not be there – be careful if it is….still ruining down my fender plates – think the 4 speed is at the bank with my titles….should have a 64 and a 65…..

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  28. S Ryan

    I remember the one lap vailant, a Mopar mag did 20 years ago.
    That’s how you build one from the inside out.

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