Dodge Dart Project Car - Engine

By: Scott Murray, Photography by: Street Machine magazine

Presented by

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After extensive surgery, the giveaway Dodge Dart got a thumping new heart and a whole lotta soul

We plucked the Mopar motherlode out of the Swinger’s front end and took a donour block to the magic factory that is Precision International and their team of wizards to wave their wands over what became your Dodge Dart prize car. Edelbrock have also come to the party with a bootload of parts which totalled a slab of draught shy of ten smackeroos.

Obviously, we’ve kept the Chrysler small-block (a 360ci to be precise) and stroked it to 408 cubes. Because of the lacklustre range of performance heads offered from Chrysler to suit their small-blocks, we’ve picked the Performer RPM option available from Edelbrock for the last decade and a half. They come with a 63cc combustion chamber and an intake runner of 171cc, and they come fitted with 2.02-inch intake valves and 1.6-inch exhaust. Scotty Taylor at Street Machine, who we’re pretty sure was born with hemispherical heart valves, insisted on this bang-for-your-buck option, saying it "outflows the factory cast-iron head by about 20 per cent, without the need for exotic rockers, intakes or exhausts."

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Powerhouse Engines took the Edelbrock heads and worked them over a little, smoothing out the ports and bowls, and more, which equated to an extra 30 horsepower give-or-take just in airflow. The heads were also ordered with springs and retainers tailored for the Lunati Voodoo hydraulic roller cam we chose.

The work on the engine continued and focused on the block. The fourth block sourced got washed down, then Johnny at Powerhouse Engines ground the main caps and line-honed the main bearing tunnel; the deck height was trimmed by 50 thou, and boring was done at 30 thou oversize.

Dodge -dart -engine -7Chrysler 360 blocks aren't the most common aftermarket accessory going around

Brian spent time and effort on the electronic balancing machine which brought the donk within two-hundredths of a gram. The Powerbond harmonic balancer was fixed on also; the whole slab was then honed and the piston-to-bore clearance was calculated and corrected before putting the top bun on our flame-grilled Whopper.

Brian and his crew did a mock-up re-build of the donk to check clearances and it’s just as well they did because had they fired her up first time all their work would have been ruined by a fraction of an inch. To be precise, at the bottom of the bores, the rod bolt head hit – so it was on to the die grinder. The windage tray and sump also had to be modified slightly to fit.

Dodge -dart -engineA warm acid solution bath removes all the Swinger's sins

With a Mallory distributor, a top-mounted oil filter and a dyno trolley to bolt it all up to, the 408 stroker roared into life and slapped a big five-zero-zero up on the screens. Scotty wept like a baby, Phil grinned like The Joker and the gents at Powerhouse nodded in self-affirmation at a job well done. With transportation to Glenlyon Motors in Brunswick, their resident revhead Mick slotted the mumbo back in the jumbo.

Dodge -dart -engine -2For anyone not happy with 500 mental horsepower, that's a beautiful coffee table

Take off was a beautiful thing, but even sweeter was the moment we handed the keys to Kane Jones-Murphy from News South Wales’ South Coast. Congratulations mate. If you ever need a babysitter…


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