SDL4M9Du 1968 Dodge Dart Hurst 11
1968 Dodge Dart Hurst 11

Fire-breathing Hurst Dart fails to sell

Riley Riley

They reckon the 1968 Dodge Hurst Hemi Dart is the fastest muscle car of all time.

Just 80 of these beasts were made and one is up for grabs after failing to find a buyer at auction.

Priced at $4200 new, you can expect to pay between $225,000 and $275,000 US dollars for the privilege of owning one these days — that is if you can find one.

The highest price paid for an original Hurst Hemi Dart LO23 was $330,000. In fact, the same car sold for the same price twice — in 2006 at the Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction and 10 years later at Mecum’s Kissimmee 2016 event.

No one knows how many of these factory hot rods survive, but most were taken straight to the track which is after all what they were designed for.

Dart was introduced as a budget, full-size car in 1960 and 1961, became a mid-size car for 1962 and then a compact from 1963 to 1976.

In Australia, it was known as the Valiant and was manufactured right here with locally sourced parts.

With Ford and Chevrolet dominating strips and the streets with Shelby Mustangs and Yenko edition Chevs, Dodge decided it was time they had their own speed machine.

The A-body Dart was selected because it was small and this promised to give the car a weight advantage over the competition.

In 1968, Dodge contracted Hurst Performance to build a limited number of Darts powered by the 440 cu in (7.2L) RB big-block and 426 cu in (7.0L) Hemi-powered Darts to compete in the SS/B class as the LO23 “Hurst Hemi Dart”.

Chrysler engineer Larry Shepard reveals the majority of these Darts were Hemi-powered, although a small pilot run of 50 440-powered Darts were also built in 1968.

“In 1969, we built over 600 440-powered Darts-basically the same as the 383 GTS, except for the engine,” he said.

Over the years the original Hurst-built Hemi Dart and its Plymouth counterpart the 1968 Barracuda have gained a reputation as the fastest muscle cars of all time.

The Hurst Hemi Dart reportedly produced a maximum 425 horsepower (317kW) at 5000 rpm, but in reality it was closer to 540 horsepower (403kW).

Torque was rated at 490 ft lb at 4000 rpm (or about 664Nm).

The Hurst Hemi could dispatch the quarter-mile in the 10-11 second range, but with a bit of tweaking is reported to have done it in the 9-11 range.

The car was gutted before being handed over to Hurst in Ferndale, Michigan for transformation.

The cars arrived without engines, transmissions, exhausts, driveshafts, interiors, batteries and all accessories.

Seats, armrests, carpet, sound deadening, window regulators (replaced with pull straps) and radios  were also removed.

The music came from the other end.

The hard part was getting the big V8 to fit in the engine bay

Hurst engineers are reported to have taken sledgehammers to the inside of the car’s shock towers to create the necessary space.

Other features included a pair of four-barrel Holley carburettors, lightweight Cross Ram aluminium intake manifold, heavy-duty rear shocks, heavy-duty radiator with a seven-blade fan, deep groove pulleys, a high-capacity oil pump and a roller timing chain.

Next installed was the transmission, either a four-speed manual or three-speed automatic depending on what the customer wanted.

The manual was a non-synchro A833 four-speed with a heavy-duty clutch, a steel bellhousing and a Hurst Competition shifter.

The auto took the form of a modified A727 TorqueFlite three-speed with a high-speed torque converter, and a Hurst shifter.

Manuals came with a heavy-duty driveshaft and Dana rear with 4.88 gears. Slushbox cars had a 4.86:1, 8.75-inch differential.

Not surprisingly the stock front drum brakes were replaced by four-piston police-issue disc brakes.

Other performance gear included a special radiator with a seven-blade fan for maximum cooling, a high-capacity oil pump, a roller timing chain, a transistorised distributor, a Prestolite ignition, heavy-duty rear shocks and a trunk-mounted, enhanced-performance Mopar battery.

To keep weight at an absolute minimum, Hurst made extensive modifications to the Dart’s body.

A fibreglass hood, with four hold-down pins for full removal from the car, featured a huge “dustpan” scoop that fed fresh air to the Holleys.

The fenders were also fibreglass.

Acid-etched doors lacked mirrors and had strap-operated manual windows manufactured from .080-inch thick, Dow-Corning Chemcor instead of glass.

The rear wheel openings were cut back and sledgehammers were again used to increase the size of the rear wheel wells to accommodate huge drag slicks.

The ultra-stripped-down interior had thin-pile carpeting, and non-adjustable, bucket seats taken from a Dodge A100 van that were fastened to the floor via aluminium brackets.

The quest for weight savings was so extreme that the cars were delivered unpainted, which is why some parts appear to be painted black.

And so the Hurst Hemi Dart was born.

The example now for sale is said to be exceptionally rare and well-preserved, with 346km on the clock, 426-cubic inch (7.0-litre) Hemi V8 and a three-speed ‘727 TorqueFlite’ automatic transmission.

This Hemi Dart is finished in the iconic combination of Primer Grey and Black, over a black vinyl-trimmed interior punctuated by chromed trim accents.

The factory specification includes quick-release bonnet pins, a three-spoke steering wheel, push-out front quarter light windows, and manually lift-up windows with retaining straps.

This example now features a transmission tunnel-mounted fire extinguisher, and a Sunpro oil pressure gauge.

It will be accompanied by the original sales invoice and bulletin, as well as other historical paperwork.

The car attracted 32 bids on Collecting Cars but failed to sell. If you’re interested you can check it out here.


CHECKOUT: $200 million Benz tops the A-list

CHECKOUT: Time to go for Beechey’s 1970s supercar

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *