A ’68 Hemi Dart Tribute that stands out from the crowd of all the others out there.
By Al Dente Photos by TheBruntBros
Marc Minarik loves talking to people at car shows, and his ’68 Super Stock Dodge clone is a great icebreaker. Marc just loves talking—about anything. Like why some particles appear to travel faster than the speed of light, the nature of gravity waves and how much fiber you should have in your diet. You’d remember Marc if you were at Mopars at the Strip in 2013 when Marc brought 3 immaculately restored vintage Dodge fire trucks. And you probably talked to him about it, ’cuz everyone there did. And if you didn’t, you should have.
Marc didn’t just get a couple of bottles of white Shinola shoe polish and splash it on his tires just to get attention like some dorks we know would do. Nope, when Marc does something it’s gotta be first class—like the museum he’s putting together of rare 4-wheel drive fire trucks. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves as we’re wont to do at times. So let’s hit the rewind button—you know, the one with the left arrow on it.
Marc used to be into restored production Chrysler cars, all the brands, but then he saw himself coming and going every time he took one to a show. Rather than risk running into 16 other guys copying him and coming to Vegas with a half-dozen restored vintage Dodge fire trucks apiece because they too, want to be different, Mark decided to go to the next level. It had to be “shiny, crazy and wild,” says Marc in an expansive mood. Racecars fit that bill nicely what with their unique graphics and paintjobs and signage and decals and loud noises. Marc was searching around for a ’68 Hemi Dart which would be something different, but still period correct, and more unique at shows than a standard production Mopar, when a Hemi Dart popped up on eBay.
The seller, Dan States, by name, of Supe- rior Muscle Cars in Center City, Minnesota had built a number of Super Stock clones, in addition to conventional restorations and buildups, listed his own personal ’68 Hemi Dart clone for sale. ’Course when it’s your car, time and money are no object, you build it the way you want it.
And that’s what Dan did.
He started with a rust-free ’68 273 V8 270 Dart. His bud, Darin Rumpel, who owned a real Hemi Dart that used to be Bob Lembeck’s car, brought it to Dan’s shop and parked it right next to the clone project car. Dan went over the original and used it to make templates for the quarter panels, how the passenger fender apron was bashed in with a hammer for valve cover clearance and other details. He kinda went nuts on the paint, though it may not be that obvious. The basic Dart is black, but Dan wanted period candy apple lace graphics that used to be the rage when Elvis was in his prime. Dan went to lingerie stores buying up different fabric and got some weird looks. “It’s for my sister.” Back in the shop, Dan laid various lace combinations on wood and shot paint over them to study the design. It took a couple of weeks of lace shopping and experimenting before he found the right pattern combination. The final effect, however, is pretty subtle.
Coming up with the right color was even more of a job—a three-month ordeal that consumed hundreds of hours. He says if he had to do that for a customer, they’d be broke. Dan tried a myriad of 3-color combinations until he heard the angelic chimes. We had to pay dearly for the secret formula, but you readers are worth every penny. Dan laid on the lace and shot the initial base coat of anthracite gray. He peeled off the lace and then shot a trans copper followed by 5 coats of trans candy apple red. He sealed it with 8-10 coats of clear. The hood and fenders are fiber- glass—repops from AAR Fiberglass—like the original, but the bodywork and paint are so good it gives the impression of an all-steel car, there’s no visible transition between the ’glass and metal.
Marc flew out to look at the Dart and figured he could take it to the next level as a show car. What next level? A Hemi Dart with a cool lace candy apple paint job isn’t enough? No. Marc took his turnkey Dart to a couple of shows where it received a rather tepid response. Show goers just gave it a passing glance. No one stopped to talk or even ask for directions to the bathroom. The Dart definitely lacked the shock and awe of Marc’s other rides. What to do? Marc pondered and pondered until he had an epiphany: “Hemi Under Glass” and white tires. Shucks, that should have been obvious to anyone from the git-go. The lettering applied by “Wild” Bill Wisslead, no less, (you’ve heard of him, right?) is a tribute to Bob Riggle’s famous wheelstanders but is not meant to imply that Riggle ever ran a Hemi Dart. He ran Plymouth Barracudas. And the engine was in the back—not the front. But it gets people to stop—and talk. And argue. Marc, always up for a brisk discussion, is quick to point out that the Dart is indeed a Hemi under glass—only under fiberglass, not glass glass.
The white tires story is a bit more convoluted.