NORTHERN MOPARS

​AUTO CLUB

Along the way Bill had help from many friends who dropped by, especially Arnie Penner, a.k.a. Mr. Trouble himself. The months whittled down into weeks, weeks into days, and then days in to precious hours. Prior to this I kept asking Bill if the car was going to be ready for the show and he said “oh ya”. Well it was now less than 48 hours before the move-in and major bits and pieces were still being assembled. Thank goodness our daughter Stephanie was there helping assemble this baby because I was a basket case pulling out my hair and snapping at anything that moved. Bill has a laid back disposition where mine is the opposite with a ‘get it done now’ attitude. 
Bill didn’t have much of a behind left from me biting it off.

This vehicle is not one of them but is my interpretation of the one I would have ordered, if I could have in 1968.  Having tried to buy a few of them over the past years from 1968-2004, 2004 was when I purchased this Hemi Dart race car from Saskatchewan.  This car had had only a hand full of runs down the quarter mile when it went up for sale. 

1968 Dodge Hemi Dart

Bill & Pat Knecht

After being with Bill through 2 vehicle restorations I have learned that restoration costs never seem to end. I would look at the cost of the restoration in the books and he would tell me the restoration was done. That is until I saw another PayPal charge for an Ebay purchase from a fellow Dodge connoisseur on the next VISA bill. 

The conversation would go something like this … Pat “what is this charge for?” 
Bill “oh just a mirror delete plate”
Pat “how much more money is going into this Dart?”
Bill “no more dear ... that’s it” 
Pat “Ok”
2 months later …
Pat “what is THIS charge for”
Bill “oh just a linkage assembly”
Pat “is that finally it for the HEMI Dart restoration?”
Bill “Yes dear”
Pat “Pffft!!”
1 month later…
Pat “What did you write a $1,200.00 for?”
Bill “Oh that’s for the wheels; they were late in billing us”.
Pat “Seriously!?!”.

The 1968 Dodge Hemi Dart was a full out race car built by Chrysler to compete in the NHRA Super Stock AA class.  The serial number code for these was started out as: L023.  There were between 75-80 built and were shipped to approved NHRA race car teams in Canada and the U.S.A. 

New Cragar S/S wheels from Wheelmaster Classic (Darryl Loose) and Mickey Thompson Street Radial rear tires were installed. After assembly, the paint was wet sanded and power polished by Stu Underhill of Red Deer, AB.

Once that was completed the car was sent to Dale Adams Automotive for 3” exhaust (Todd) and the “out of province” inspection for licensing. A new Be Cool crossflow aluminum radiator was installed plus an oil accumulator.

Firstly I wanted to get my Super Stock license, of which we were successful at Alberta at Castrol Raceway, Edmonton in October of 2004 with a 10.45 ET on the quarter mile, within the limits of 10 % above the 9.90 time. Then the work began as we returned home with car and license in hand. We completely disassembled the car and delivered the engine back to Allyn Lee for refreshing and tuning it for the street. 

Three years later the restoration was coming along at a nice even pace  … that was until Bill agreed to put the Dart into the Mopar display at the 2010 Auto Value World of Wheels. Now the finish date was secured by a solid commitment and the time crunch was ticking to get this car completed.

The car was delivered to Dunwell Autobody under the supervision of Dave Lease for a complete back half including rear quarters, trunk floor, trunk extensions, inner and outer wheel housings (tubbed) and rocker panels and the floor pans were repaired as needed. 

This 3 year plus body restoration yielded a Black Hemi Dart of which now had to be assembled with all new parts including, gas tank, fuel lines, shocks, brake lines, door handles, mirror delete plate, taillights, grille, headlight bezels, Super Stock Battery, all new wiring harnesses etc. which had been stored for the vehicle.  

Transmission went to Neil at National Transmission, Barlow and 23rd Ave. N.E. for a complete inspection and rebuild. The body was then media blasted to bare metal, the fiberglass front fenders and hood were sanded to bare fiberglass, the windshield and rear glass was removed and new pieces reordered. The side plexiglass was also removed and new MarLite ordered for installation. Interior was removed and new ordered including custom reproduction door panels etc.

Now it’s the day before the show … all parts were installed … but the engine hadn’t been turned over yet. Who do ya call? Dale Adams of course. Mr. Guru of Mopars himself helped our baby take its first intake breath and all went smooth with just a few tweaks to be made. The sweet sound of that engine along with rattling walls was beautiful music to any Mopar lover’s ears. Smiles were in abundance and we were off to the show in style with our new born HEMI.

Now for the wife’s version:

After truly enjoying a few years of driving the black 65 Coronet with the 426 Wedge engine Bill informed me that he had always dreamed to own a HEMI Dart and that he had his eye on one that was for sale in Saskatchewan. Due to space and an adjustment of funds one of our cars had to go to make room for the future Dart purchase. With that being said it was a sad day when the 65 Black Coronet went down the road to a new owner.

The first thing that came to my mind was “Here we go again”…

Ah yes, back to the restoration … It seemed to me that it wasn’t too long ago that we had restored the 65 Coronet and now we’re doing it again? Good grief! … oh well, time to get out the measuring tapes, templates and coveralls ‘cause it’s gonna be a long cold winter! 

The restoration was slow and meticulous, sometimes out of our control, but none-the-less a lot of time and work ... not to mention the blood sweat and tears, literally with Band-Aids and all. Luckily for Bill there were no broken bones this time around. 

Bill and I have always agreed to keep each other in the loop as to when a major purchase would be taking place. Poor Bill has learned not to pull one over on me. I recall about 10 years ago getting a phone call from him as he and the Coronet sat motionless on Centre Street in Calgary north of Country Hills Boulevard all because of a broken $5.00 part. He had called a tow truck so I decided to go out with my regular car to keep him company and we passed the time by chatting about anything and everything. All was well until I noticed that the Coronet’s brand new set of tires. Hmmm, here we go again. 

Pat “When did you buy these tires?!?”

Yep … it never ends. 

With all kidding aside many strong friendships have developed through these ‘ol Dodges. I find these beautiful classic vehicles are what keep Bill’s and my relationship fun due to our combined passion for the old beasts and now we’re passing that passion on to our children and grandchildren. 

Happy Trails,
Bill & Pat Knecht 

As Bill had mentioned above, the HEMI Dart was delivered to us in the Spring of 2004. I was a little concerned to learn Bill wanted to get his I.H.R.A. license. I had visions of him wanting to get back in to drag racing as he used to when he ran the circuit back in the early 80’s. All I could think of was how much more expensive racing is today compared to 20 years ago.
Yowzers! 

The 426 Hemi was bored .060 over (Built by Allyn Lee of Red Deer) was dynoed at 731 HP when we first took delivery in April 2004. The plan for this vehicle was to create my version as I have mentioned before.