Project Yankee: The Ins & Outs
The Crunch Continues

Twelve days. That’s the amount of time remaining between the moment I’m writing this and the official opening of the 2016 SEMA Show in Las Vegas – and the debut of Project Yankee, my 1975 Dodge Dart Sport.


When I first set out on this project over a year ago, I never intended it to become a ‘SEMA build’. At least, not in the sense of rushing to get the car finished as the clock ticks down, anyway. But here we are with about a week and a half to go before she’s loaded up for Las Vegas.


Last time around, I covered some of the exterior modifications that were made to fit the RAYS Volk Racing TE37Vs and Toyo rubber, along with our custom bumper mounts. Today, I’ll be catching up on some of the other exterior and interior work that’s been happening lately.


A few weeks ago, I mentioned that our friends at CSF had sent over one of their brand new BOSS dual-pass oil coolers to complement the CSF aluminum radiator that’s already been fitted. Initially developed for use with the Rocket Bunny BOSS S14 body kit, the oil cooler was made with external mounting in mind, so all I had to do was figure out where to place it on my Dodge.


Vintage race cars and Japanese street machines are a big part of Project Yankee’s inspiration, so I figured the front bumper would be a fine place to mount it. As it turns out, the Dart’s factory license plate slot provided a perfect location.


Matt from Caliber Customs, who has built some ridiculously powerful engines using very heavy duty parts, was very impressed with the build quality of the CSF oil cooler, and needless to say, it was going to be totally functional.


Now we just needed to figure out how to route the oil lines. We wanted something that would add a some character, but not to the point of looking obnoxious with the oil lines looping all over the place. Our solution simply feeds them through the bumper and up into the grille area toward the engine bay. I dig it.

Nose Job

I’ve noticed a lot of you guys commenting about Project Yankee’s need for a chin spoiler, and I can assure you that it was part of the plan from the very beginning. The only was question was, what style and what material to use.


I knew that an off-the-shelf aftermarket piece wasn’t going to work, and I briefly considered adapting something from another car. But eventually we decided to just build one on our own.


It was another chance for Matt to show off his fabrication skills and for me to shoot more photos with sparks. Because you can never have enough of those.


It was actually a pretty simple process. We first took some basic measurements and then did a little eyeballing to ensure we had the proportions right.


The inspiration were the simple aluminum air dams used on the Trans Am cars of the early ’70s, and after studying a number of photographs we came up with a pretty cool design.


It even features a pair of dimple die ‘brake ducts’ that add some more visual character. Is the air dam functional, though? I guess we’ll find out soon enough…


Another aspect that I wanted to upgrade was the lighting, and not just because the headlights on the car were foggy and old looking. I actually wanted to be able to see in front of me when I drive at night! That’s where Dapper Lighting comes in.


Having previously improved the lighting performance of Larry’s 240Z, Ben from Dapper Lighting set me up with a pair of the company’s Classic V1 series projector headlights complete with HID bulbs and wiring harnesses.


Dapper Lighting offers several different designs aimed at vintage car owners who want to upgrade their lighting, and I think the V1s do a great job of that without looking too modern. I can’t wait to see how much they help out at night.


So with our remounted bumpers, ‘custom’ grille, chin spoiler and upgraded headlights, the nose of the car had come a long way. However, there was one more idea I had for a finishing touch.


And that came via a pair of genuine SEV Marchal 7-inch driving lights that I scored on eBay for 80 bucks. They are far from show quality, but I actually kind of dig the patina on the covers, and they look pretty mean mounted atop the bumper. They’re like something you would have seen at Le Mans or Daytona in the ’70s.

Interior Makeover

With the front end taken care of, it was time to the move to the rear. Bringing the bumper in a few inches had already made a big improvement to the profile, but there was another thing I wanted to add to the mix.


And that would be my prized NOS Direct Connection rear ducktail spoiler that I purchased soon after buying the car last year.


Originally available from Mopar dealers in the ’70s and ’80s, the wing matches perfectly with the look I’m going for, and the fitment is excellent too. I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s matched to the body color.


With the exterior modifications taken care of, the next area to tackle was the interior – an area that was in serious need of attention.

Project-Yankee-7 copy

For a refresher, here’s what the interior looked like when I first picked up the Dart: old carpet, ripped green velour seats, a sagging dash cover and torn up door panels. It was sort of cool in a funky way I guess, but not something I wanted to live with for any longer than I had to.


The first things to go were the shredded up door panels. Rather than replacing them with reproduction parts, we’ve gone for aluminum door skins that retain the factory door handles and window cranks.


My original arm rests were also pretty beat up, so Matt designed some trick door pulls complete with finger cut outs.


The dash pad was another part that needed to be replaced. Again, rather than fitting a stock reproduction pad we decided to keep the race car theme going with a simple aluminum cover to tie up the metal dash frame.


One of Caliber Customs’ specialties is building roll cages for time attack cars and machines that eclipse 200mph in the half mile. For a mix of street and occasional track use, Project Yankee wouldn’t need something quite that extreme though.


For Matt and the Caliber crew, my simple 4-point roll bar with a single diagonal and a harness bar was a piece of cake. Once I saw the completed piece I realized why so many serious racers trust these guys.


The craftsmanship is fantastic, and it should improve both safety and rigidity without getting in the way. It also happens to look pretty damn cool.


Needless to say, Project Yankee is now strictly a 2-seater. The next thing to do was fab up some panels to cover everything in the rear, and to replace the busted up package tray. Look for that in the next update.


Also in the next update: seats! Here’s a little sneak peek at what we’ve done with the good folks at Cobra Seats in the UK. More on these bad boys soon.


Along with finalizing the interior, the last big thing to do is bodywork and a new color, so keep an eye out for that next time.

There’s not many days left till SEMA, but with the help of some very good people I think it’s all going come together just in time. Stay tuned!

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia

More Speedhunters Project Cars
CSF Radiators
Dapper Lighting
Cobra Seats
Caliber Customs



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SEMA hyppeeeee


Looking great Mike!


me encanta muy lindo proyecto!!!! saludos desde Argentina


A respray might be in order, but I actually dig that classic light blue, and the patina kinda matches the style already. I wouldn't bother color-matching the spoiler, I'd black out the chin-scoop to match though. Put some sponsor stickers (extra horsepower!) on it would bring home the grassroots racer vibe.
I really like this car. A lot. It looks like what the Rocket Bunny S14 kit was trying to be, which is just awesome. Was never really into US muscle until I saw this project. Living in a N.E steel-town, there's lots of muscle here, not so much JDM.


i still think you should find led taillights that can fit the dart, or if you slightly possibly can, adapt a kit for the dart. also, why not put some power window conversions that keep the crank, but like you pull up on the crank to roll up, push down to roll down, etc. i think it keeps the charm while adding some modern features.


Great work thus far. Somehow I'm not digging the air dam... I would trim it a little and make it less obtrusive or even tuck it in. I was thinking something kinda like the standard 70-72 Chevelle and El Camino front spoiler.


This thing just gets better and better, love it


sinned909090 Yeah could be tucked in a bit with a few whacks lol. Nice piece esp the holes.


Well ducktails haven't changed in 40 years, still looking great.


The Yankee looks as if it is sucking up on the cooler.


Not gonna say what you should or shouldn't add, it's your ride and I gotta say I'm digging it. I was a little iffy on whether I liked the car or not but as you've gone along I've really come to appriciate the body style. Goes to show that you don't have to build a well known classic body style to have a bangin set of wheels. Keep up the awesome progress and get that thing to SEMA!!!


I just have to say that nothing bugs me like someone telling me or anyone else what they should or shouldn't do with their own project in regards to styling and taste. Get your own and do it lol


Really enjoying this build Mike + the fact you are moving things on with your own hybrid of American and Japanese styles. Looking forward to seeing this in the flesh.


Good news.........>>>
my classmate's aunt makes $84 /hr on the internet .


Nice, but that aluminium is going to reflect like a mother..... in the sunlight.


You sir are inspiration. Nice to see how priject goes, I really like what is becoming, that blend of style is really getting to me.
I had dream yesterday..... Ford Capri, overfenders, TE37Vs,front dam,ducktail spoiler, and ofc oil cooler. Gray color with bronze wheels. I think it would be I should convince my bro to pick up that Capri I saw in some yard under the tree. Grass is growing in interior...but it deserves to be saved.


my father got a stunning MINI Cooper Clubman 

only from working part-time off a pc...


cannot wait to see the colour, hoping for a gun metal grey. lol.


Love it, front end would look better with oil cooler hidden away tho.


will the car be the same color as the seats?


We should do burnouts. For science.


Paddy McGrath  Those R888's aren't cheap though. But if they were donated: FOR SCIENCE!!


That front airdam must do wonders for pedestrian safety...looks like an amputation device.


That baby blue color keeps growing on me.


The door covers look badass, simple and great job. Those curves in the sheet metal are something ive never seen before.. This is going to be sweet.


my best frends uncle just got a stunning red MINI Cooper Convertible just by part time work from a macbook
ONLY ▒▒ ...➥➥➥


This and Trailhunter are my favourite articles on the site at the moment. I love seeing how much work has been done no matter how small. 

The only downside: We don't generally get to pick up cars like this in the UK and I have neither the training nor the money to do anything similar.

Never been into volk wheels until I saw this too.


IvanVukovic You must be fun at parties.


Pretty common among dirt track cars and drag builds here in the US, they do look darn cool on a street car I must say


DavidFRogers Agreed.


Hey Mike, great update. Love to see that you stuck with the driving/rally-style lights. Along with the HID headlights they bring a very mean look (plus both are a practical upgrade for old cars). I was not sure about the external oil cooler suggestions in your previous article, but seeing it mounted in the center now I really start to appreciate it.



Not very efficient to put an oil cooler above an air dam. Large high pressure behind and below the cooler. Very little flow there.


I love every single thing about this car. Well, everything but the oil cooler. Just seems a bit... I dunno, too centered. Oh, well, it's your car, not mine. I'll just have to find me an early '70s Nova and follow in your footsteps. I'm thinking get a straight-6 car and turbo it, for that extra-JDM feel.


muse_coyote Straight six Nova would be awesome!


birelmotosport I think it will be fine for my intended use.


KaloyanNikolov Glad you are enjoying it!


MatthewScott1 Thanks a lot. SEMA is gonna be fun for the SH crew this year!


abezzegh87 Yep, they did on a awesome job on them. It was an easy choice given the prices people are asking for reproduction door panels.


IvanVukovic Might have to enter it in the next Death Race.


TylerHorne Paddy McGrath Def gonna need a second set of tires for goofing off!


karikaturisti17 Not quite...


JLWturbo Not gunmetal grey, but I think it will be pretty cool.


BozoMotosport Man that sounds awesome. I love Capris.


AndyBlackmore Thanks Andy, means a lot coming from you!


Therealstig Agreed.


Therealstig Thanks a lot, I guess if I can win over skeptics I'm doing something right. Not everyone will like it of course, but that's gonna be impossible no matter what.


bluestreaksti What's old is new. Or what's new is old. Or something...


Bro5 Thanks!


awesomefearwave I'm sure LED lights can be retrofitted, I kinda like the crank windows. No big deal to roll them up and down.


TylerStone Awesome. Yeah I went back and forth on the doing the body. It in the end I felt it just didn't have enough patina to justifying leaving it as is. I'll explain more in the next update.


jltarelaf Thanks!


3nigm4 Thank you!


Just_a_peasant All aboard the hype train!


like Charlotte replied I am dazzled that a person able to profit $7783 in one month on the internet . 


Lights and oilcooler looks like Dagestan teenagers shit) sorry)


I have a russian helicopter oilcooler with thermostat on the inlet) if you interested, I will buy cheap)


I'm starting to believe!


I cant believe that some one able to earn $8736 

in 2 weeks on the computer ...........


Mike Garrett KaloyanNikolov I certainly am. I'm following this transformation with great enthusiasm since the beginning. It's a proper build - starting as a barely usable shell, requiring an engine swap and all (not a straight-from-the-dealer new GT86 project that ended with a set of coilovers rims and overfenders).
Did you happen to take a look at the Photoshop renderings of Project Yankee, that I posted in your last article? The car is sort of forming the way I imagined it should (plus that crazy air dam.)


Remember the draws of the project... It's really taking the shape ! I hope it will be ready for SEMA, even if 12 days is extremely tight :)


my Aunty Alexa recently got a fantastic silver Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 only from working off a pc...
 check this site out...........>>>>>ᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵ


I followed ur project since the beginning, as I'm mad about duster's, demon's and the dart's and valiant's that shared the same body. When u told that it was going to had a kind of JDM look I was really eseptical but men, now I'm in love with project Yankee! Keep going, I can wait to see it finished, and certainly u give me a lots of ideas for my projects! Gettings from URUGUAY, South America


My Uncle Jake recently got an almost new blue Land Rover LR2 

by working from a home computer...............


The rose is growing...

or a flower rather


my best friends cousin just got a new Chrysler 300 SR T 8 just by part time work from a computer.


There must be some more tat you can hang off that front bumper surely?


my uncle got a stunning silver Dodge Charger SRT8 Superbee 

by working online.


muse_coyote Yeah, the whole external oil cooler thing is a kind of deliberate bodge - like there's no space in the engine bay and it has to just hang out the front. Having it neatly centred conflicts with this look a bit. 

Might inadvertently look a bit like a mouth as well.


modell3000 muse_coyote Ya It would've been cool a little bit to the left or the right... But he did have that space in the bumper from the license plate so I get it.


Joker1990 Thanks!


My Uncle Gavin just got a new black Mitsubishi Eclipse 

by working parttime from a macbook air.


Car is looking tough and looking good! You're so close!

One suggestion... PLEASE paint the bumpers and associated brightwork either satin black, gunmetal, or maybe even anodize to match the rims.

The tired chrome just dates and makes the car look tired. 

Whatever you decide, I'm sure it'll come out looking fresh, lookin forward to seeing the final product!


I actually liked the old interior


My Uncle Elijah recently got a 6 month old Mitsubishi Lancer from only ..........................

see more details


muscle love