Being a Mopar man requires something special—call it an obsessive trait. And if your Mopar of choice happens to be something outside the normal cookie-cutter B- or E-Body restoration, or heaven forbid—you want something that handles, you better be extra obsessive. Mike Toupin is that kind of guy. A mechanical designer by trade, at least he’s well equipped to handle building a ’63 Dodge Dart—of which there are almost zero aftermarket parts. Ironically, he’s probably one of the few hot rodders in this issue who actually does things the old-fashioned way—designing, building, and installing parts on his own.
We’ve seen Mike’s Dart before—twice in fact. He’s answered the call for reader project photos in the past, and each time he’s made serious progress on his Gen III Hemi-equipped ’63 Dart. Mike’s primary battle cry—to quote Chip Foose—is to “take the ugly out of it!” Consider it mission accomplished! All he lacks is the final assembly, which he plans to have done before you read this.
Engine: ’05 vintage 5.7L Gen III Hemi, stock internals, Jeep SRT8 exhaust manifolds, SPAL fans, Northern radiator
Trans: Dodge 545RFE five-speed automatic trans with Trans-Go shift kit
Rearend: Currie 9-inch Ford, Detroit Truetrac posi, 312-spline axles
Suspension: RMS AlterKtion front suspension, QA1 coilovers, Flaming River rack, 1.125-inch diameter front sway bar, Mopar rear leaf springs, KYB rear shocks, Hellwig 0.750-inch diameter rear sway bar
Brakes: Wilwood four-piston Dynalite calipers with 12-inch rotors (all four corners)
Wheels & Tires: Billet Specialties Apex G wheels (17x7, front; 18x10, rear), BFG tires (205/50R17, front; 285/40R18, rear)
As owner of Jesse’s Auto Body in Dewey, Oklahoma, Jesse Matlock is on a mission to show that big talent exists in small towns. He’s a Mopar man who still has his first car (a Satellite). He’s owned and restored quite a few ’70-71 ’Cudas and Challengers, but this time he wanted to do something a little different. What started as just dropping in a 6.1L Hemi and adding nice wheels quickly took off when Jesse enlisted the expert custom help of Dr. Patrick Hagerman at Scotlea Hot Rods in Nowata, Oklahoma. The plan is to rework and modify every inch of the body, from the one-piece, all-steel, removable front end, to the 4-inch extended rockers, full bellypan, molded-in rear bumper, and smoothed rear pan. His car will be all-new and all-Mopar inside and out. “I know some in the Mopar community are going to hate me for ‘destroying’ a ’71 ’Cuda,” Jesse writes, “But it was pretty rusted out, and I’ve done the restoration thing—everyone has. In fact, I sold my ’70 Hemi ’Cuda to fund this project. To turn a true ’71 ’Cuda into a total custom machine is usually out of the question, so that’s what makes this car different.”
Engine: ’08 6.1L Hemi fitted with a Kenne Bell supercharger
Trans: ’08 Charger SRT8 five-speed automatic, stock shifter and console; two-piece driveshaft, front half is stock Charger, rear half is custom
Rearend: narrowed and braced 8¾ with Moser axles, 3.70 posi
Suspension: custom 2x4 frame designed by Scotlea Hot Rods; triangulated four-link with Air-Ride ShockWaves (rear); Art Morrison crossmember and tubular control arms with Air-Ride ShockWaves, and antiroll bar (front)
Brakes: ’08 Charger SRT8 14-inch discs with four-piston Brembo calipers
Wheels & Tires: 18x7 and 20x15 Foose Nitrous II with 26x8 and 29x18 (rear), Mickey Thompson rubber
Michael Peltakian, San Dimas, CA
Owning your own professional repair garage—MVP AutoTech, in the case of Michael Peltakian—is both a blessing and a curse. When you work on the cars of others all day long (and sometimes into the evening and weekend), it’s hard to find the time and the desire to work on your own stuff. Like the Greek mythological figure Tantalus, who stood in water but could never drink it, Michael works constantly in eyesight of his ’70 Chevelle, but only gets precious few hours to work on it each week.