Project Yankee: No Sleep Till SEMA
Fender Fun

As I sit here and write this, there are less than three weeks left until the official opening of the 2016 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. And for the first time in my life, I’m feeling the so-called ‘SEMA crunch’.

I’ve attended the annual industry event as a member of the media for seven years straight now, but going to SEMA to show a car is something I’ve never done before.


Putting together a car with such a tight deadline has been a challenge to say the least, but I’m confident we’ll have a pretty cool piece of machinery to show off next month in Vegas. But more importantly, I’m hoping to end up with a car that I can enjoy driving for many years to come.


When we last left off we’d just finished test-fitting a set of staggered 17-inch RAYS Volk Racing TE37V wheels with matching Toyo Proxes R888 tires. I was extremely happy with how the wheels and tires visually sat on Project Yankee, but I also knew there’d be a difference between them fitting under the fenders in a static position and actually functioning out on the road.


The idea of playing with the fenders was something on the radar since I first started this project last year. At one point I envisioned the car having a set of bolt-on flares to help complete the kyusha-inspired look, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to keep the body lines stock – or at least close to original. With wide-body flares and over-fenders starting to appear on almost every customized car under the sun, I thought it might be better to keep things simple.


And once I saw how the RAYS wheels matched up with the original fenders, I knew this was the right choice. However, it was also obvious that the tires were going to rub like crazy and interfere with the bodywork once the car was moving.


The big 17x9s and 255s looked perfect up front, but they were already binding on the fenders at full steering lock and that would need to be fixed.


The solution? Pull the hell out of the front fenders for our own grassroots ‘wide-body’. I’ve rolled fender lips and done other quick fixes to fit wide wheels on my previous cars, but nothing to this degree.


With the help of Matt and the Caliber Customs guys, we came up with a solution that saw the stock metal front fenders hand-widened by about two inches. There’s always some nervousness when you start altering bodywork, but I was really happy with how the front fenders came out. It’s a function-first modification, but I also think it brings just the right amount of attitude while still looking stock from a distance.


Initially, it seemed like the rear would just need a minor fender roll and we’d be good to go, but it actually turned out to be even more involved than the front.


That’s because not only were there deep, sharp lips inside the rear fenders, but the unibody itself came in right on top. It was nothing, however, that a little cutting and welding wouldn’t take care of.


The inner lips were completely cut off the fenders and the portions of bodywork that impeded towards the rear tires were trimmed back and patched with new metal.


It’s not quite tubbing the rear, but our solution essentially achieves the same thing. And there’s plenty of extra room should I decide to go with an even wider tire at some point in the future.

Slimming It Down

Like other American cars from the mid-1970s, my ’75 Dart Sport came with large bumpers that were necessary to comply with the federal crash standards of the time. Furthermore, the bumpers were mounted with huge shock absorber-style mounts that made them even more unsightly. It’s one of the big reasons these mid-’70s models aren’t as popular as their earlier counterparts.


From the beginning I knew I wanted to do something about the huge bumpers, but I wasn’t quite sure what. Potential options ranged from doing a Dodge Demon front end conversion (which I still have all the parts for), all the way to removing the bumpers entirely and replacing them with tubular bully bars.


After going back and forth many times and watching the rest of the build develop, I decided that for now I’d stick with the original bumpers, but remount them much closer to the body for a cleaner, less obtrusive look.


Out came the cutting torch and welding equipment once more, and the massive shock aborber mounts were cut off and thrown in the garbage. The Caliber guys then fabbed up a set of new low profile mounts for me.


The bumpers are still a little on the heavy side, but the new simpler mounts at least shave a few additional pounds off the nose of the car.


Here’s the new front end with the original bumper tucked up much closer to the body – several inches closer in some spots. Scroll up a few images and you can compare the before and after.


We did the same thing in the rear. Here’s the back bumper as it looked before with the shock mounts and that weird piece of plastic between the bumper and the body.


And the new look. Much simpler and much cleaner, wouldn’t you say?


What I like most about this option is that it retains the overall look of the car while doing away with a lot of the awkwardness. A ’75 Dart is a car that’s often overlooked in favor of its older, sexier Mopar relatives, and I kind of like keeping some of that funkiness.

Up In The Grille

I’ve always dug the raw look of an old race car without a front grille – particularly on the Nissan Skylines of the early-’70s – and wanted to translate that look over to Project Yankee.


Using a spare ’73 Dart grille that I bought on eBay last year, we cut out the inner plastic structure and reused the lower portion to create our own grille frame.


Along with the remounted bumpers, the new grille still keeps Project Yankee recognizable as a ’75 Dart but helps give the car its own personality.


Another idea I’d had for a while was adding a set of fender mirrors. This would be another nod to those aforementioned retro Japanese machines.


I actually found these bullet-style mirrors for sale last month at a swap meet and thought they just might work sitting atop Project Yankee’s front fenders.


I opted for a flat black finish, and after mocking them up for a test fit I was sold on the look.


The mirrors are an inexpensive and small detail, but one I think should stand out nicely once the car’s exterior is complete.


But once again, there’s no time to stop and rest. The to-do list is still very long, with more modifications for the exterior and an interior that needs to be reimagined from the floorpan up.


Up to this point, everything about the project was function related, so being able to play around with some homegrown styling elements has been a whole lot of fun. And there’s plenty more of those to come too.

Stay tuned for more updates on Project Yankee coming very soon!

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia



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No fender mirrors please!


I love the way you are going about this build. Cant wait to see how it turns out!


You know what.. i wasn't into this build at first. Not my cup of tea, so I thought. But it has grown on me and i'm liking it more and more. I'm gonna go back and read all the other articles on this build now. I like the way the bumpers came out. One thing though.. this car definitely needs a chin spoiler on the front!


Been following your build on instagram too Mike. Looking forward to seeing the next installment. 

In regards to the bumpers, did you ever consider going straight up bumperless? With the additions you have made to the front and rear since these pictures, I would have thought no bumpers would look alright.



Check out the 67 Fairlane in this months Hot Rod. I am glad you decided to go with the fender mods instead of the bolt on flairs. The bolt on flairs look a little industrial to me for a car build. I would be afraid of busting off those fender mirrors while working in the engine bay. To me the kyusha look is a little cartoonish, like your taking a real car and making it into a model.
Maybe my criteria for owning a car that has to be drivable anywhere at any time precludes me from getting it, I don't know.
I absolutely agree with you about taking a lowly Dodge Dart and building it. I think it would look good with one of the old Dodge 3 spoke fake wood steering wheels in it with a center horn button.


Chin spoiler !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Transam racing x buck tooth


I forgot one other thing! The bumpers look good, a process I think about many times with older cars. My plan was to have a bracket on the body like you have and the bumper has tubing that slides into the bracket and held in place with hitch pins. Then you could make front and rear roll pans to swap on to change up the look when you wanted to.


I was hoping for demon front end conversion, because the angular lines near the headlights was a key feature i like about.
But anyways good luck sir for sema!!


I am inspired that someone able to earn $10230 

in 1 month on the internet .


Oh yes! This is getting really really interesting...


Pretty excited that you decided against the Demon front end. As cool as the Demon front end is you will never have the amazing tailights to go with it. Plus the Dart styling is charming in its own way and this way youre not pretending its something its not. Let that Dart pride Shine!

That bumper tuck does wonders for the look, small detail with big gains


keithnmeasures A big part of what inspired me to stick with later model nose was seeing all the Chrysler Kit Car short trackers from the '70s that used Dart Sport body work. And I've also come to dig the '75 tail panel quite a bit.


jay8393 Gonna get plenty more interesting soon!


Project AT180R Thanks! I'll hold on to the Demon parts in case I want to change it up in the future. The plan is to continually evolve the car long after SEMA so we'll see what happens.


@Chris L That's a cool idea. I guess the challenge would be finding parts that don't make it look TOO custom if you know what I mean.


Steve666 Stay tuned. I think you'll like what's in store ;)


@Chris L I'll check out that Fairlane. I'll have to be a little careful with the mirrors but fortunately they aren't terribly expensive so having to replace them wouldn't be the world. If I get tired of them, removing them completely isn't too hard either.


3nigm4 I actually did consider it, but the way the body is removing the bumpers leave some pretty big holes in the bodywork. It's a little different than say a '67 Mustang or Datsun 240Z where the smaller wrap around bumpers cover up valances.


pdrift Don't worry about that spoiler. It's a comin' :) Glad you've been enjoying the progress.


@qwertyuiop I'm liking them right now, but they are easy enough to remove in the future.


rv_zenki Thanks! I too am anxiously awaiting the chance to see (and more importantly) drive the final product.


Really looking forward seeing this finished!


Should've stuck to kyusha style and removed the bumpers and replaced the front with an oil cooler and front chin spoiler. just my opinion though


Cool beans! I'm totally into the look. I drive a 4 speed 71 Satellite and a 240Z so the combination of Mopar and JDM genes excites me. I am glad you didn't do the overfenders though, the meaty fitment of the TE37s under stock(ish) bodywork looks damn cool and just right IMO. The Kyusha/Mopar look could easily look too cartoony/jokish if you used every trick in the book - some may enjoy that for a show car, but your car seems to be striking the right balance.

Good Luck!


A chin spoiler will be nice with the outside mounted oilcooler. The rear spoiler though.. ducktail or you going with the original wing?


Mike, why?... those bumpers.. hideous.


Yay! Really digging the new look! Bringing the bumpers closer always makes them look cleaner.


BTW, did they release some new rules in '73? All cars from that point on like the Porsche 911 and the Alfa Romeo spider change to large, black, rubber bumpers.


Gasosphere he does put the oil cooler and chin spoiler.. u can see it in his instagram


Mayank0809 Sort of. There was a rule that obliges new cars of the time to have shock absorbing bumpers (called 5 mph bumpers).


A Nardi wheel would spruce up the interior, I think


Definitely needs a chin spoiler and external oil cooler.


@qwertyuiop i second this they in my opinion don't look good on this car.


no over fenders???

you bold bold bold man

fan of it


So far too good! Really expecting what is about to drop on the body work. The only detail (and i really respect your own taste) is the fender bullet mirrors, the look tiny in that huge Dart body, and i am pretty sure you won´t be able to use them because the distance betweeen driver´s seat and mirror location. 

I have owned those mirrors before, i know lol.


My Uncle Christian got an awesome blue Chevrolet SS Sedan by working part time off of a home computer... website here...........>>>>>>>>


Ditch the bumpers. Fab up something to put in their places.


Two thumbs up!


I guess bolt on overfenders/chin spoiler/ducktail don't necessarily add an exclusively JDM touch to a Mopar!


Man, you're definitely going to need some new headlights. Obviously LED/HID conversions are available, but a set of 7" Cibies would keep the classic look and give you great lighting for night drives. Plus you can put Cibie stickers on it, which scream vintage racing!
Really like what you're doing with this build, and glad you decided against bolt on fender flares - they're pretty played out at this point.


my aunty recently purchased an almost new green Jeep Compass SUV by work part-time using a laptop.


tcworley my aunty recently purchased an almost new green Jeep Compass SUV by work part-time using a laptop.


simplyraka I second that. A deep corn Nardi with polished spokes and a light wood rim. It will look great in combination with that light exterior paint (especially once you refresh it).


Will it be too weird if you place a set of rally fog lights (tinted yellow, with a diameter smaller than that of the headlights) inside the hole where the grill used to be?


prepare for all the old folk hating on it because of those "ghetto wheels" and following up with "look at those rubber band tires, no sidewall, 14 inch is best because I said it is so it must be true"

I hate people like that.


I would like to see the Superbird wing on this.


@ericlastname Never thought of that haha


KaloyanNikolov Keep an eye out for something along the same lines as you mention.


Option13 Headlights are being addressed. Should be in the next update :)


tcworley Thanks!


@marlonsamuel Yeeah as far as function goes they surely aren't the best, but I've got another small solution that might help with that a little bit.


MPistol Haha. Who would have thought NOT putting over fenders would ever be considered bold?


PatrickPeebles Keep your eyes peeled. ;)


Mayank0809 Yep American market cars had to comply with crash standards that lead to some pretty ugly bumpers. Have you seen the ones on a US market Countach? Yikes.


@Expert To be covered soon :)


@andy Nice, I love '71-'72 Satellites! And yeah at one point I had visions of going full kaido racer - flares, huge spoiler, maybe even a shark nose and dumped on the ground. I think that would still be fun to try on something in the future - maybe with a slant six? But as this build has become more "performance-oriented" I've dialed some of that back while still having some retro Japanese influences.


Gasosphere Stay tuned.


@Jeroen Willemsen Thanks Jeroen! I feel the same way haha.


The JDM guys use fiberglass bumper replicas to drop weight, then they paint them chrome.


So the wheels/stance has obviously been compromised for some reason. This setup is way too tall for anything resembling kyusha/shakotan which is very disappointing coming from Mike Garrett - a man who helped bring these japanese subcultures and more to western eyes in the first place.


Yeah Nah Cunt I am hating, but only because they make the ride height a travesty.


Please tell me the bumper guards were removed!  That's what always catches my eye on 70's cars is the bumper guards removing those tucking the bumpers closer to the body and welding the bumper bolts holes and trim holes really cleans up cars with big bumpers.


Absolutely love this build! Is the boot spoiler making a comeback as well? Looks very reminiscent of the wings fitted to the the Australian Phase III GTHO Falcons


Look into fiberglass bumpers - they'll likely be pretty cheap.  Most guys that race/drag these things ditch the stock chrome bumpers for lightweight fiberglass pieces.


Dalton Bedore Well he did mention something about driving around in it lol.  Maybe he'll do air or something later.


earmenau but it's sort of a tank. seriously those things can push through all kinds of animals mailboxes and whatever else you might encounter on a sunday morning cruise.


my mum in law just got a stunning cream Volvo XC60 SUV by working off of a home computer... why not find out more


earmenau Yeah, no kidding...I think it's called putting lipstick on a pig.  After SEMA, have your metal guy fab up something racy and complimentary to the car.

Hey Mike, we're about the same point in our builds. No doubt you'll have yours done way before me (no sponsorships hereU0001f622.) When they're on the road and all sorted out, we should meet up at Canepa's or the Blackhawk Museum Cars and Coffee. Afterwards, I can show you some canyon roads and you can see what a '62 Impala SS looks like running away from you! Hahaha!


Paint the bumpers to match wheels!


Roman64 Nice car! Yeah I'll have to take some road trips to the Bay Area and have some fun once this thing's all done and dialed-in.


AG ESQ I've looked into those. Won't have time before SEMA, but it's a nice option for down the road.


Nat1984 Yep. It's coming back. Look for that in the next update.


@moldy They gone!


Dalton Bedore I'm happy with how the car sits so far. Not gonna be slammed, but then again a lot of the race cars this thing was inspired by weren't slammed either. With the new motor, bigger brakes, bigger wheels it has evolved a bit but I think that stuff will make the car more fun in the end as opposed to just looking really cool haha.


@turf toe Def an option for the future!


like Betty responded I am surprised that a mother able to get paid $5649 in 1 month on the computer . See it here====ᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵ


My Uncle Tyler recently got green Porsche Boxster Convertible 

just by some part-time working online with a cheap laptop.


Mike Garrett They look awesome. Stay the course man!


Love how this project is coming along!
That being said, are we just gonna ignore that clearly monstrous Corvette in the background here?


Tsurikawa, bubble shift knob, Nardi wood steering wheel please!


My Uncle Harrison got a nearly new silver Lexus NX 200t SUV


KevinDeHart That would be awesome but, it appears Speedhunters has a bias against featuring American cars relative to European and Asian cars.


Style and restraint are both a rare commodity these days in modifying cars, but here we see both. 

Great stuff, and a credit to the vision...


hey mike sorry for the delay, here is a pic of my 71 runner I just finished this year with RPf1's! I like the fender mirror, I went with some original vitaloni california mirrors amongst other subtle changes ;)


I dig that! That's how you make an ugly car look tough! Good job man! Is that Bahama Yellow?


I didn't even know that a student can earn $8477 in 1 month on the internet


I'm amazed that you able to make $5104 

in a few weeks on the internet ...........


Mike Garrett Turbo 6 could get you right back into USA and Japan becoming intimate with one another again...    I guess one or two builds have popped up already though. That new Hemi you have ought to be buckets of fun though. I am a little skeptical about the lifespan of the overdrive 4 speed. I have a busted one - they had lighter, alloy casings and can suffer under much power/abuse. I guess you know that anyway

I did do a little buck tooth chin spoiler under my Plymouth. It's a narrow one, inspired by Petty's race car from '71 (full width spoilers were not legal under some NASCAR rule that season I think).
I did like that Voomeran mk2 Golf too - Pretty cool look with the bumper bar/chin spoiler thing going on..


my Aunty Eva just got a fantastic green Suzuki Grand Vitara only from working part time off a macbook air. why n


Mike Garrett Even better - got you covered ;) Took the liberty to make a quick PS rendering. I think that you might wanna put a black aluminum mesh in the hole to protect the radiator. With the mesh being black you won't be able to see it that much. Used a set of Hella for the project, mounted on what's left of your grill. I was dwelling on the tint though.


That looks killer!


Big Mopar fan, have been following since day 1. Good progress. But no early 70-71 Duster front end?


my mother recently bought an awesome white Chevrolet Tahoe SUV 

just by some part time working on the internet ...........


just as Miguel said I did  nt even know that people can get paid $5956 in 4 weeks on the computer . ...................


Mike Garrett, Option13 Further updates include, as Option13 suggested, a new set of headlights (angel eyes). Made it slightly more aggressive by deleting the grill and added a set of (adventure bike) projectors for that Eleanor look. The second rendering shows the full aggro treatment.


my gf just got a real cool Mercedes-Benz SL-Class SL65 AMG only from working part-time off a pc... i


dangina my gf just got a real cool Mercedes-Benz SL-Class SL65 AMG only from working part-time off a pc... i


dangina That is awesome! Love the color.


Roman64 you are correct!!! and thanks!


my Aunty Piper got BMW 3 Series Convertible 

by working part-time off of a computer.............


Maybe just me, but visually without the old spoiler and bumper gap, the rear deck looks longer and more proportional with the car. It will be interesting to see how the factory rear spoiler looks on the deck lid. The bumpers tucked in, is much cleaner looking. To clarify the rear fender modifications, you did a lip a rib removal, patched the material you removed but did not open the contour or pull the fenders correct?


my Aunty Taylor just got cream Toyota Land Cruiser by working online.


I'm amazed that you able to profit $4549 

in a few weeks on the internet .


Looking good Mike! The bumpers look great. Are you planning to colour match the fender mirrors potentially? Good luck on the rest of the crunch.


My Uncle Jace just got a fantastic gold Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Convertible by working part-time at home.


@Chris L That's correct, from the outside it's essentially the same, just more clearance inside the wheel well.