Thursday, May 19, 2016

Rare muscle car hiding in plain sight!

GTS
I was walking through the heart of the East Village recently when this awesome beater presented itself:
Damn! Don't be fooled people; this is a legitimate and very rare high performance muscle car built for the drag strip. What we have here is a 1968 Dodge Dart GTS in Black with White "Bumblebee" stripes. Incidentally because I know it's very important to everyone those stripes are tape, not paint.
We know it's a '68 because those clear turn signal lenses are round. In '67 and '69 they were rectangular. Occasionally there is a '68 GTS with a vertical chrome bar in the middle of the grill, but nobody agrees on why some have it and some don't.
The GTS was a high performance option package built for only 3 years.
Those hood bulges were new for '68, complete with faux vents. The side marker lights were only this tiny in '68. That little chrome bullet on top of the fender has a fiber optic cable in it going to the turn signal so you can see if the bulb has gone out.
This thing is a crumpled as a re-used brown paper bag. Still, the stance is correct as it sits evenly. We might have one of those (restored where you can't see it) rides that remain fast but theft proof while parked on the mean streets of NYC.
These are period correct Dodge Rallye wheels. That center piece is a literal hubcap covering only the hub. Tires are suspiciously new for a full on hooptie.
One look at that door lock is all you need to know. The finish is so disastrous on this bucket that they seem to just spray flay black over any rust or dusts that emerge.
Most GTS Darts had this stripe treatment. Occasionally you will see one without which invariably causes people to claim it as fake or incorrect. However, for those who wanted to fly a bit below the radar option code 319 was stripe delete.
The base engine for the GTS was the now-famous 340 V8. Even though it is smaller than the optional 383 it could rev much higher without damage. Its combined weight and super high 6,000 rpm abilities made it perfect for the drag strip.
This is not a big car, in fact considered compact for the year. In 1970 the larger and heavier AAR (All American Racing) 'cuda came with the 340 and it was a racing hit.
It looks like the trunk is open but this is just something red jammed into a piece of trim. Only 8,745 GTS were made that year starting at $3,163.
Along the bottom edge of the roof between the side rear windows is a chrome strip. This means that originally this ride sported a vinyl roof. This could be ordered on its own or as a part of the White Hat Special option package. The advertisements of the era are pretty great with beautiful hippie chicks draped all over the cars, hugging the seats, laying flat across the hood, etc. Everything was worded towards capturing Dodge Fever.
*The print copy on the brochure reassures the buyer that He (presumably) can "keep mum about the price and be known as a big shooter".

In shadow this thing looks great!
Alright there are a bunch of things to address in this shot. The first and most obvious is that the steering wheel has been replaced with a K-Car unit from the '80s (it also happens to be chained to the floor somehow). We can see the optional TorqueFlight automatic trans with console (standard was 3 on the tree). The huge tach and additional gauges let us know this thing is still built to run hard. The tape on the dashboard means it's a beat up pig of a rat rod, ans the ankles reflected on the left let us know this thing is STILL dishing out Dodge Fever.
This is the most anti-theft thing I've ever seen. They look like they're just trying to keep it together at a traffic stop.
Nothing like a mailbox reflector just screwed into the fender. And how exactly did the chrome trim stop at the halfway point in the wheel arch? I only ask because the other side is exactly the same.
This is one of my favorite rides I've encountered on the streets of NYC. Everything about it shows that it's parked on the streets nightly ready for vandalism and parking misadventures. Despite all that though this is a muscle car hiding in plain sight! As crummy as it looks I bet this is a fun car to get in and mash the pedal to the floor. Fixed up these go for around $30,000 but I'm sure this would be much cheaper if you could find one.
Hats off, Road Warrior! Keep on fighting the fight!
*If you happen to find one of the few lightweight Hemi Darts built in '68 you're talking $300,000+!


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