Comments: Dodge introduced a new GTS trim for its Dodge Dart line to compete against Chevy’s Nova SS. The hot GTS was available with either a standard 340 cid V8 with 275 bhp or an optional 383 V8 with 300 bhp. Coupled with its light 3,000 pound curb weight, the Dodge Dart GTS did very well on the street and the track. Unfortunately, the extra weight of the 383 tended to negate the power advantage of the 383 over the 340. Furthermore, the 340 was rumored to actually produce over 300 bhp which helps explains the lack of improvement with the 383 engine. Other technical enhancements included a low-restriction exhaust system with chrome tips, Rallye suspension, 14×5.5 inch wheel rims and E70-14 Red Streak tires. A three-on-the-tree manual transmission was standard, though most GTS models were sold with either a four-speed Hurst floor shift manual or a competition-type Torque-Flite automatic transmission. Identifying the GTS were hood power bulges with air vents, body side racing stripes, special GTS emblems, and simulated mag wheel covers. A rear end “bumble bee” stripe was a no cost option. Vinyl bucket seats were standard in the $2,611 hardtop and optional in the $3,383 convertible.
But another option awaited those wanting even more performance. For a special few, Dodge shipped 383-spec Darts (minus Powertrain) along with factory prepped 440 engines to Hurst-Campbell, Inc., a Michigan after-market company. Hurst-Campbell did the conversion, Dodge reps inspected it, and the finished cars were forwarded to Grand Spaulding Auto Sales in Chicago, a performance-oriented dealer. These cars got vehicle identification numbers, but were not covered by the factory warranty. With even more weight over the front wheels and no power steering (it wouldn’t fit), the 440 Darts were only good for all out drag racing. Most modified 440 Darts also received additional performance parts such as aftermarket headers, ignition kit, hoses, wiring, and air cleaner.
As if that wasn’t enough, approximately 80 Darts were fitted with the 426 Hemi. But this wasn’t just a engine swap. They featured a fiberglass hood and front fenders, a front bumper and doors stamped out of a lighter gauge steel, special one-layer Corning Glass for the side windows (which did not meet DOT standards for use on public roads), no door window mechanisms, and no exterior side mirrors, all in an attempt to save weight. The weight saving measures continued inside with the deletion of the rear seat, the radio, and the replacement of the front seats with special lightweight van seats mounted on custom-fabricated aluminum mounting brackets. There was no insulation, no undercoating or sealers were used, and even the right side seatbelt was removed. Under the hood, the brake master cylinder was moved to clear the cylinder head, and rubber brake lines were used instead of metal so that they could be removed for access to the valve cover without disturbing the brake hydraulic system. The actual Hemi engine featured a pair of Holley carbs on a magnesium cross-ram intake. Iron heads (instead of aluminum) were used to keep the cost down. A heavy duty cooling package was standard, as well as headers, but the cars were delivered with no paint — just primer and naked black fiberglass from the cowl forward on cheap black wheels with skinny tires. Final cost per car was around $4,500, and to make sure that the cars were raced and NOT driven on public streets, every Hemi Dart came with a sticker that stated that “This vehicle was not manufactured for use on Public Streets, Roads or Highways, and does not conform to Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. But they definitely performed on the track, and would hit 10’s in the quarter miles with minimal modification. This would make it the fastest factory built car in muscle car history.
340 V8 275 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 340 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm.
383 V8 300 bhp @ 4400 rpm, 400 lb-ft @ 2400 rpm.
440 V8 375 bhp @ 4600 rpm, 480 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm.
340/270: 0-60 in 6.0 seconds, 1/4 mile in 15.2 seconds.
440/375: 0-60 in 5.0 seconds, 1/4 mile in 13.3 seconds @ 107 mph.