Project Yankee Continued
A Little Update

Is it really the middle of December already? Are we really just a couple of weeks away from the end of 2015? For me, it only feels like the other day that I picked up my 1975 Dodge Dart Sport, which I’ve affectionately dubbed Project Yankee.

While I hoped to have made a little more progress through the fall than I have so far, I’ve slowly begun the process of transforming this Mopar A-Body into a low-budget, but well rounded street/track car with a very unique style. I figured now would be a good time to get you guys caught up…

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As I mentioned in the introduction story, when I first got the car back in September it had a terrible exhaust that made it hard to tell what sort of shape the 340ci V8 motor was in, so my first order of business was to get that figured out.

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The car was equipped with a set of old ratty headers, and as anyone who has owned a V8 Dart, Demon or Duster can tell you, working around such items can be a nightmare on these cars. Not only did the exhaust gaskets appear to be shot, the headers themselves were in bad shape and heavily dinged up from scraping the road.

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Fortunately, the previous owner gave me a set of stock 340 exhaust manifolds, so I decided for the time being it’d be best to remove the headers and fit the original-spec manifolds to take care of the exhaust leaks.

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Removing the headers from the tight engine bay was going to be difficult, but only if I planned on reusing them. Because I knew they were more or less junk, we simply cut them off to make the job easier, replaced the badly worn gaskets and fitted the factory manifolds.

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Then there was the rest of the exhaust system, and it was in even worse shape than the headers. See those holes? Yeah, not going to cut it.

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So we simply cut off and removed the entire exhaust system (or what was left it) and threw it out to the recycling pile. So far, so good.

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With just open manifolds and no exhaust system, the car is far too loud to diagnose any problems and equally too noisy to drive on the street, so we’d need to arrange a temporary solution to get it back out on the road.

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Over the recent Thanksgiving holiday I was planning on going to the muffler shop to have a cheap temporary exhaust system put on, but I ended up getting sick and being stuck in the house most of the week, so that’s as far as I’ve gotten in that department. I’m hoping to have the temporary exhaust done soon so I can get it back on the street and get a better of idea of what else it needs.

Scheming & Dreaming
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As far as the engine itself goes, I think I’ve more or less decided that I want to stick with a traditional Mopar small block, and even if it needs work the 340 in there now should be good base to work from. Making massive power isn’t really my plan, but I think you could have this thing built to make around 300 horsepower pretty easily.

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What I really want to do is perform a manual gearbox conversion, so that’s going to become my top priority. I’m still undecided about going the traditional 4-speed route or whether a more modern gearbox would be better suited, but either way, rowing my own gears is a crucial part of the plan. Hopefully, I can begin assembling the parts I need for the conversion after the New Year rolls around. Ideally, once the car is converted to a stick I’ll begin to tackle brake and suspension upgrades to improve the handling and make it a lot less sketchy to drive.

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As you can probably tell, cosmetic upgrades are the least of my worries at this point, but that hasn’t stopped me from already picking up a cool part for the exterior.

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After doing a bit of research I found that Mopar’s Direct Connection brand offered a cool ducktail-style rear spoiler for the fastback A-body cars in the ’70s and ’80s. It’s long since been discontinued, but they do pop up for sale in the classifieds every once in a while.

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Not long after I picked up the car I found a guy on the East Coast who was selling an NOS (new old stock) Direct Connection spoiler in the original box. Knowing it might be hard to find again, I made him an offer and a week later it arrived on my doorstep.

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At the time of purchase my Dart had a ‘Go Wing’ on the back, but I thought the motorsport-derived DC wing would fit better with my plans for the car.

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All I’ve done so far is remove the Go Wing and mock up the ducktail to check out the fit, but I really dig the look and can’t wait to see it painted and permanently affixed. Of course, that’s likely a long way off because I’m still determining exactly how I want the exterior to look – more specifically the front-end style.

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’73 and up Dart Sports had a different front end from the ’71 and ’72 Dodge Demon, and while the latter look isn’t bad, I think I’m more partial to the smaller bumpered Demon front end.


Converting to the early front end is not hard – it’s just a matter of gathering the parts. Fortunately, you can use stuff from any ’70-’72 Dart or Demon. In fact, it would be even easier in my case because the previous owner of my car threw in a ’72 Demon hood, front bumper and even a beat-up ’72 grille.


That means I only need to source the front fenders, front valance and perhaps some bumper brackets, and I’ll be good to go. I haven’t totally abandoned the idea of sticking with the newer front end, but the more I think about it, the more I’m certain the Demon look matches with my vision. Please excuse the terrible Photoshop work, but you get the idea. Anyway, that’s more or less where I sit right now and I’m hoping to make some more progress when I have free time over the upcoming holidays. Stay tuned.

There Is Another
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But wait, there’s more. Yes, it’s another addition to the Garrett garage – at least for the time being. Last week I was taking a browse through the local Craigslist when I stumbled upon an ad for a very unusual ’66 Pontiac GTO.

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Shortly after I was heading out to the countryside to check out said GTO, telling myself that I was just going to take a look for the hell of it. When I arrived I found that the car was indeed a genuine ’66 GTO 4-speed, but there wasn’t much GTO left.

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The story goes that a school teacher bought it brand new in ’66 and drove it for a while before he decided he wanted to go stock car racing with it.

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He stripped it out, fitted a rollcage, painted it up and went out to have fun in the grassroots racing scene. But for one reason or another, he lost interest, sold the motor and trans and let the car sit.

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To call it a ‘project’ would a massive understatement. There’s rust, missing body panels, and no original interior parts to speak of – but still it was damn cool! I couldn’t stop having visions of this thing on the street with an LS swap and looking more or less like it does right now.

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So I did something stupid and made the guy a low-ball offer – which he accepted. I had just bought a GTO race car for about the same price as a new video game console.

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Realistically, I knew there was no way I could handle two big old car projects at once, but the charm of the Goat was too much to resist. Could it someday be a Project Dixie to go along with Project Yankee?

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I thought about it for a few days and decided I would clean out the GTO and put it up on eBay to see if anyone else is interested first. I figure if someone wants it, I can use the money to reinvest into the Dodge, but if not I’ll just hold onto it and see what happens. I’ll let you guys know what becomes of car #70.

That’s more or less where I’m at in terms of project cars – the old ones at least. I’ll be back soon with some more updates on my Project EcoBoost Mustang daily driver, and also some impressions after nearly one year of ownership.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia_media



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Mike, you're my hero. Keep on keeping on.


that cool


The Dart is coming along nice. 300hp from a 340 should be easy, considering they were nearly rated at that much stock (and everyone knows the OEs lied about actual output). As for the GTO, you're a braver man than I.


"So in the end, was it worth it? Jesus Christ. How irreparably changed my
life has become. It's always the last day of summer and I've been left
out in the cold with no door to get back in. I'll grant you I've had
more than my share of poignant moments. Life passes most people by while
they're making grand plans for it. Throughout my lifetime, I've left
pieces of my heart here and there. And now, there's almost not enough to
stay alive. But I force a smile, knowing that my ambition far exceeded
my talent. There are no more white horses or pretty ladies at my door."
For some reason this quote always comes to mind


Been loving the photochop musings on Instagram for the Yank, keep 'em coming Mike!


Here's an interesting suggestion that you might want to research deeper into: an old Dakota V6 bell-housing apparently bolts up to the 340ci block and you can hook up a Soltice/Sky Aisin AR5 5-speed manual on the other end.  One of my friends was considering that option for his autotragic (the A727 is nearly dead) 318ci LeMons '73 Coronet race car until they found a period-correct 4-speed from a 70s Mopar truck.  Best of luck with Yankee and Dixie!


Now I normally hate the idea of 'Mad Maxing' a car, but that is because people often take a good car and tear the hell out of it. Project Dixie on the other hand looks like it would work great for a 'Mad Max' project. Just needs motor, trans, steering and brakes. Just an idea to let you think over.


Loving the styling route you have in store for the Project Yankee. And that rendering had me doing a double take. Now if I can only transfer that style onto my MK6 sportwagen.


Sent you an email about your project Mike...


GTO track car?


doors welded shut bo and luke style.


How is it that such a big car has so little room under the hood? Good to see it burbling along though...


So you've bolted on the stock exhaust manifolds and you bought a spoiler... and you got distracted and bought a completely unrelated, barely-usable shell of a car. I don't think these things are enough to justify making a whole new article on one of the most popular car websites on the planet, especially with an intriguing title like "Project _____ Continued." There's been essentially no continuation from where you left off. Next time please wait until you've done something note-worthy (e.g. new wheels and tires mounted, car lowered, transmission successfully swapped, new paint, etc.) before you post an "update."
I know I'm being pretty harsh, but it seems to me like you're getting ahead of yourself, which is actually hurting your progress. It's some psychology shit; I'm sure your brain is releasing dopamine for things like making this post, and reading the positive comments people make; but none of that is going to help this project along. You're rewarding yourself for falling short of your aspirations. Leave the rewards for significant events like getting the motor and exhaust all sorted out, or milestones of similar significance.
Basically, get off the computer and work on your car.
Just my 2 cents.
(Sidenote: I'll admit I have the same problem you do Mike, where I get ahead of myself with thinking of all the great possibilities of a project and I end up not doing much; so it pains me all the more to see the same thing on Speedhunters. You and I can both do better.)


@MrMoons  Jeez, lighten up. I found the article interesting. A small update is better than no update!


you should do an l-series engine swap from a 240z. pretty much doing the opposite of what a lot of guys have done wits the s30 chassis


The New spoiler looks much better than the go wing... Making power from the 340 is pretty easy .. I'd make sure the motor is sound.. Are you planning a Rebuild of the Motor? Look into mopar Action green brick dart .. It did the 1 lap of America .. I like the idea of the Demon Front end or early duster .. Borgenson steering box should be on your list to


I like Dixie lol ..tell me a few ideas you've brainstormed for the exterior of Yankee and I'll do a rendering.


I like that it was a relatable read.. Showed me that even the Speedhunters are just normal car guys


When you posted on your FB that you had bought yet another project car, I inmediately facepalmed (is that a verb?) myself... LOL!!!
Y really hope you can make some kind of profit with it, and invest it on PY! But... If you see yourself having the time to make a really good project car out of it, it would be really lovely to see this rusty race car become a track toy :)


yeah I'd like to know what goes on with #70


In terms of the front end on the Mopar, are you gonna stick with the stock k member and torsion bar setup or go w/ the rms/magnumforce coilover route?

Also, this isn't a plug but check out "accurate exhaust Ltd." They make quality Mopar exhausts with great fitment. My Mopar buddy raves about how great their products are.


@MrMoons Is Mr Moons the new name of the troll "open your eyes."


@Nate Sometimes I poop too much. Then I get tired.

For some reason this quote always comes to mind.


There is plenty of room, but LA blocks take up a lot of space. Also, the A body was never made to hold an RB (big block).


This one is for you, Mike!


Sweet Duster!


At the moment I'm thinking of an upgraded Torsion Bar setup. Coils would be cool, I kinda like the simplicity and "oldness" of upgrading the original setup if that makes sense.


Just watched the new owner tow it away today actually. Came away ahead and the guy who bought it seems pretty stoked so I'm happy.


See above comment ;)




Yeah once the exhaust is on I should have a lot better idea of the motor condition to see if a rebuild will be in order or not. Will look into the Borgenson box - thanks for the tip!


It actually crossed my mind at one point. The unique factor would be huge, but not sure it'd be worth the effort. Haha.


jbfromsiliconvalley What I didn't know those existed! I am so sick of the torsion bars on my C-body, going to seriously look into those. Thanks for the post!


You should send the Goat to RoadKill so you can restored to its proper glory.




jbfromsiliconvalley Ohh and they don't have them for C bodies... Damn. My life would've been so much easier if I had bought a Chevy.


No worries man. I actually agree with a lot of what you say. It's always easier to scheme and talk up stuff than it is to actually go out do it.
In my defense it's obviously a slower and more involved process dealing with a 40 year old car that's been sitting for 10 years then something like my Mustang or Paddy's GTI where you can just jump in and start with the upgrading and fun stuff.
Do I wish I had a bunch of awesome progress or big milestones to share already? Absolutely. As with any project car, progress is all a matter of time and money. I'd love to be able to drop it off at a shop and write a big check or go wild with the credit card ordering a ton of new parts but you gotta stay with in your means.
An automatic to manual swap for example is a lot more involved than just clicking a part number and going at it. A lot of options need to be considered and a lot of different parts need to be sourced. We all know it's best to try and make sure everything is done right the first time rather than rushing and having regrets later.
I have been in talks with a few potential sponsors for parts and such, but obviously it takes time to sort everything out and there's a certain order you have to do things in. Example - fitting some badass wheels and tires would be cool, but how can I properly do that if I don't yet know what size and type of brakes are gonna be on it?
As for this story itself - an update is exactly what it is. A way to share what's been happening with the car even if the pace isn't to everyone's (including myself) complete satisfaction.


A-Body Mopars are actually pretty small by the standards of the day. There's a lot more room in a Charger or Challenger's engine bay, but it's the relatively small size and light weight of the A-bodies that make them popular for fixing up.


When I first saw it Bo and Luke immedatley came to mind.


I'd like to see that haha.


Yeah that the thing is way too far gone to make it "nice" IMO. The Mad Max style would be perfect.


I actually hadn't heard of that. I will certainly add that to the list of possible gearbox options. Thanks for the info!


Hopefully we'll be seeing some real work and not just my crappy photochops soon!


Yeah I'm thinking something like some basic aluminum heads, mild cam and a few other things and I'll be in business.


Noooo don't give me encouragement!


That demon front end is going to be the sickness! Why not just rivet on that boot lip spoiler? Looks good black.


@MrMoons You have obviously never had an old ass car before. Keep the updates coming, Mike! It took me 31/2 years to get the running gear/ brakes/ suspension swapped on my 67' BMW, and it's still a pile of shit.


Thanks Mike! It's a finacial blackhole. These gosh dang parts are hard to find and very pricey.
73' taillight bezels anyone?


_PEITRUS_ It's funny that VW named the Jetta Wagon "Sportwagen" instead of "Sportwagon" cause Sportwagen means sports car in German and that is as we all know the opposite of a Jetta :D


More money for Yankee! :)


Mike Garrett I'm going to continue to enable you to do the things I can't.


@daender  The reason the Dakota bellhousing bolts up is because the 3.9L V6 is literally a 318 V8 with 2 cylinders cut off (Kinda like how a 4.3L Chevy is 3/4s of a 350 Chevy) and the 318 is part of the A/LA engine family, along with the 273, 340 and 360.


Mike Garrett  A little inspiration for the GTO (Although this one is a '64)


What are you rambling about? I read this and seriously worried about what type of serious drugs you're addicted to.


Mike Garrett
Having a blog of my own, and a project of my own that has two posts very similar to this I can truly relate and appreciate the update of "hey I still have this and I am still moving forward" over no update at all.
As a few people have touched on it's good to know that SH writers face the same issues we all do (read: money and a world f distractions) so I'd say keep on keepin on really want to see where this one ends up.


I reckon the modern gearbox will be more fun to drive, more gears! The older front end does look nicer and since you have most of the parts, why not!


Therealstig Its a quote from a movie about getting in over your head and wasting time and money and making big plans that fall apart.


All but true. Googling "Sportwagen" images brings up nothing but super cars. From Austin Martins to Zondas. Quite the oxymoron for the humble Jetta Variant or is it Estate/Avant/Touring/Station Wagon


_PEITRUS_ It was sold in Germany resp. Europe in general as Golf Variant. Don't know the actual name of the MkVII USDM Golf Variant, is it Golf Variant, too?


JoeOlSoulR  Sweet looking Outback. Love seeing things done to them, even just new wheels.


Speaking from experience, a 4 speed swap is pricey, more so than one would think. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an A-body 833 4 speed and shifter from a 69 Dart GTS, both rebuilt, for $650. These usually run at least twice that. Additionally, I've never seen a pedal set go for less than $200, and that's without rods and Z-bar. My solution: Hydraulic clutch conversion and a Wilwood pedal box. Congrats on the GTO!


This car is such a great base for endless possibilities! I was lucky enough to help my dad build a 67 cuda (also an A body) with the Rms k-member and mustang steering rack, using a GM power steering pump. They had pre-fabbed mounts for our junkyard 6.1 Hemi. RMS even makes a custom rear suspension system for the A bodies. Excited to follow this.


Mike Garrett ask and you shall recieve



Great car, I love the color.

I almost bought a 66' Barracuda for $1500 with a 318CI/904 trans.


I personally wouldnt give up such body even in this kind of condition..
I`d clean it up and store it till I had money or will to get working on it ..
Good luck with Yankee.. Cheers


Enjoyed the post. Really liking the wing!


Dude you have entirely too much going on. And talk about your plans too much, make build progress and then show us things. like project crown WTF is going on there? years and absolutely no forward progression. then you have the golf and the mustang…...


missile Hmm. Guess you haven't actually read any of the previous stories? It's all explained.


Buick Man Thanks!


Should look into some fiberglass front fenders, might be cheaper than finding nos or used demon fenders


the car was very good 
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