This is the first restomod car that I ever had built. It’s also one of my favorites. It was the first car built for me by Mike Staveski of Hudson, FL. He and Rob Wolf of Mopar Collector’s Guide approached me about building this car. It was originally 1 of 2 cars that were built by Mike Staveski as a project for a new muscle car cable show that was to be hosted by professional wrestler Bill Goldberg.
Goldberg was having a Super Stock Dart built that mimicked the 68 beast that Mopar came out with. This car was to be a modern version of the 68 Dart with all upgraded and modern components. At that time, I had never even heard the term restomod.
Staveski started with a solid original Dart, which had minimal rust, even though it had come out of the Northeast. I wanted solid all-around performance, clothed in a fairly conservative look; something that would easily recall the Hemi Dart S/S racer, but not a replica by any means. The initial plan called for the new 392 Hemi crate motor, but it was not available in time. So Staveski went with a trusty 5.7, using the hottest of the three Comp Cams bumpsticks available for this motor.
Next came the injection system. What you see now is the car’s second system. The first one, from an unnamed vendor, turned out to be a disaster. So, when this Dart debuted at Mopars at the Mansion, it was not under its own power. (Then again, Hef might not have been under his own power, either.) With the SEMA show a week away, however, Staveski had to think fast. He shipped the car to Bob Ream in Phoenix, and within a few days, Ream had installed his Imagine injection system, a lookalike for a classic Weber carb setup using FAST electronics, and the car was ready to rock. Staveski added the Imagine valve covers, too. He was so impressed with the work and the car’s performance, that he’s now got a dozen or so projects in the process of getting Reamed. The Imagine injection system, with its individual velocity stacks, takes in fresh air through the custom, all-steel hood scoop. It seems more inspired by the ’65 Mopar S/S hood scoop than the ’68 Dart S/S hood, but it is not a replica of either one. Stainless Works headers empty into a full ceramic-coated custom exhaust system with Flowmaster mufflers. You can’t help but notice that the pipes go under the rear axle. Make that axles. The independent rear suspension was custom designed and made by Time Machines, using a Viper (read: aluminum Dana Super 44) center section and unique cantilevered horizontal shocks. Want this setup for your car? Staveski figures others will, but probably not for the $20,000 price tag, so he’s developing a less expensive version. The Dart’s front suspension is by AlterKtion, and frame connectors add in strength needed to handle the Hemi’s 450 ponies. The power goes through a Passon 4-speed overdrive tranny. In keeping with the ’60s nostalgia theme, this Dart rolls on 18-inch Halibrand wheels (1 a-x T front, and 18″ x 1 o· in the rear), with center spinners to mimic the “knockoff” look seen on ’60s sports racers, such as the Cobra.
But original in function, it is not. Time Machines tabbed the gauge panel, for example. And the carpeted trunk houses the three amps for the 12-speaker audio system, all using Sony components. The doors open by remote control. And while some Dart builders add power windows, have you ever seen one with power rear windows?
Outside, the Dart’s body has been shaved clean, the gas filler was relocated to the trunk, and with remote-control doors, there’s no need for door handles. The coolest exterior touch might be the airbrushing by Jaymz Air Studios in Hudson, Florida, run by air brusher to the stars, James Kunzinger. He applied the Bull’s-eye theme to the tach and speedo centers, as well as the rear panel and the side markers. Look closely-the marker “lights” are painted in.