Project Yankee: Things Have Escalated
Summer Madness

As I hinted at last week, there’s been some exciting stuff going on with my 1975 Dodge Dart Sport build, better known around these parts as Project Yankee.

And as promised, I’ve returned for a much-needed update on what’s been happening with the car since my last project post, and also a look ahead to what’s coming.


In the last big update, I talked about my plans to convert the car from column-shifted 727 automatic transmission to an A833 overdrive 4-speed manual, and how I bought a wrecked ’72 Dart donor car that included both the gearbox and many of the associated parts I’d be needing for the conversion.


Initially the plan was to stick with the 340ci small block V8 that came in my car when I bought it, but this spring an opportunity to do something much more exciting presented itself. I’ll get to that in just a moment.


Regardless of the final engine choice, the original motor and transmission were going to have to be pulled out for the manual conversion.


With the help of my dad and my brother, we had the 340 removed in an afternoon. I guess you could call this the first big step on the new journey of Project Yankee.


Out of the car and straight onto Craigslist the 340/727 combo has gone; hopefully they will find a good home beneath the hood of someone else’s Mopar project.


With the motor removed, I used this opportunity to do a quick repaint of the engine bay. I went with a simple navy gray color that should match well with any body color choice. It’s nothing fancy, but it should get the job done.


While the engine plans have changed, the transmission plans have not. I’m still going to be running the A833OD with the QuickTime bellhousing I showed in the last update, but there were still some additional parts needed to realize my gear bangin’ dreams. And that’s where the folks at McLeod Racing come in.


They’ve not only set me up with a special flywheel that I’ll need for my engine/trans combination, but also the rest of the parts I’ll be needing to finish the clutch setup.


That includes one of their Street Pro clutch disc/pressure plate kits.


And a hydraulic throwout bearing kit. This one’s very important because not only will it simplify clutch operation, it will also save us a lot of room under the car with what’s going to be a tight-fitting engine setup.

Christmas In July

Also jumping on board to support the project is Summit Racing Equipment, the massive parts supplier known for its incredible inventory and lightning-fast shipping times. The Summit guys have helped out tremendously with various supporting parts that are going to be needed for the engine swap.


Among the Summit-supplied parts that have showed up at my door over the last few weeks is a complete Milodon oil pan setup and an A-Body fuel tank from Tanks Inc. made for EFI applications, along with a matching in-tank fuel pump.


There was also no way the original Dart tachometer-less instrument cluster was going to work for the new engine setup, or for the look I want for the interior. This is where Racepak and its new IQ3S digital dash unit come in.


The IQ3S is part race dash, but it also has the features you need for street driving, which I plan to do a lot of. There will be lots of time later to dig into the IQ3S’s features, but this little unit has ramped up my excitement significantly.


In addition to the dash unit itself, I’ll also be running Racepak’s optional GPS speedometer plug-in, and an OBD2 interface to read data from the new engine.


Which brings me to the engine itself. Pretty important right? You are indeed looking at a 5.7-liter Gen III HEMI V8. It’s just like you’ll find under the hood of a brand new Dodge Challenger R/T and it will soon be powering my ’75 Dart Sport.


I’ll be saving the specifics of the engine setup for a future update, but I will say that I’m incredibly excited to have the power and reliability of a modern V8 while still keeping things in the Mopar family.

A Look Ahead

A lot of my time over the past few months has been spent researching internet forums, asking questions and generally trying to find out as much as I can about running a modern HEMI in a 1970s Mopar A-Body. It’s no LS swap in terms of popularity, but I’ve been pleased to find plenty of information out there that’s helped big-time when it comes to selecting parts.


I’ve got no problem admitting that I’m not a master mechanic, so to make sure things would be done right and in a timely matter, I started hunting around for a workshop that could help me turn this old Dodge and a garage full of new parts into a very cool automobile.


That’s where Matthew Lambrecht and his shop Caliber Customs come in. Located in the foothills of Central California, it’s not far from where I live.


Having seen Caliber’s cars running at events like Airstrip Attack and Global Time Attack, I knew the shop would be up to the task of handling Project Yankee’s engine transplant.


When compared to the time attack cars, exotics, and half-mile builds outputting thousands of horsepower, my engine swap should be a relatively simple task for Matt and his guys – but we are about to find out for sure.


I’ve been heading up to the shop a couple times per week, delivering parts and working on a game plan with Matt to ensure everything comes together.


Right now as I sit here writing this, the swap is officially underway and our plan is to have the car running in September. If everything works out, we will be debuting the first iteration of Project Yankee at a certain world-famous automotive event held every November in Las Vegas, but I’ll have more on that later.


Needless to say, there’s going be a whole lot more to the build than just a fancy new motor. Just about every area of the car will need to be upgraded to match. The brakes, the rear end, the body and the interior all need to be addressed, and the parts are continuing to show up by the day. The challenge is just beginning.


I’m anything but a professional car builder, and I certainly don’t have the budget to have someone build me a custom pro touring show car, but with some long days, late nights and the support of some great partners, I’m confident I’ll be able to realize my goals with Project Yankee. That is, a uniquely styled, track-capable muscle car with some global influences that can be driven every day.


There’s lots more to come as the project ramps up in the coming weeks and months, so the updates should be hot and heavy from here on out.

For now I’ll leave you with one more little glimpse at the styling direction I’ve been picturing with a little help from the talented Andreas Hoås Wennevold. Stay tuned, because things are about to get wild.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia



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And now we wait for the Built not Bought guys come in and start crapping on this.

I myself am super excited for you Mike, you're too busy to complete this on  your own as we've seen from other previous "projects" so this is absolutely the right move. Can't wait to see the progress on this.


Super excited to see how this turns out! That hemi will provide plenty of power without compromising on drivability. I personally would have colour matched the engine bay to the final colour, but you might be on to something with the navy and purple combo. Great stuff Mike!


Good call on the overdrive. Nothing like cruising classic muscle on the highway without worrying that you are winding the engine out.


Can't wait to see this build complete. Looks like it will be just shy of a Pro Touring type of setup. Be sure to get the timing chain issue addressed that those 5.7s are notorious for. Other than that, should be pretty safe.



sounds like a long time but before you know it november will be around the corner.... tell us when you start feeling the pressure!


PowerTryp i dont think they have a leg to stand on... im guessing mike will tackle most of himself and will only let the pro's take over when he is just too inexperienced


The hype with Project Yankee is real now!! One of my favorite project car threads, best of luck with the car Mike!!


Hey mike ditch the wilwood master kit you have and go with a wilwood clutch pedal setup instead. I just did this exact same setup on my 71 runner and had nothing but problems with the master you had. I found out that not only you have to match you clutch/slave but you also have to worry about pedal ratios. I had to put my entire body weight into it just to shift gears. After mounting in the wilwood clutch pedal, and the wilwood high volume master cylinder, I no longer have had any issues and its been smooth sailing since


Loved the part of the "With the motor removed, I used this opportunity to do a quick repaint of the engine bay. It’s nothing fancy, but it should get the job done." And then onto the full SEMA spec showdown build.


Going to be a sick build!


@Kevin Truong I sure hope so!


@Sammyboi This car will be a lot of things, and it will indeed go to some car shows at some point. It will not be a "show car" though.


AWA302 Thanks a lot!


difflocked_mees Don't worry, I'm feeling it already :)


370 Hemi You are exactly right. Functional and simple is the way for me.


Isaac C Yep I'm hoping it works out well. At some point I may go to a T56, but it seems people having good luck running the classic four-speed behind the modern engines and the OD should certainly help. Choosing the right rear gear will be key.


RichlyOrange Thanks Richard. There's a chance the bay will be redone later, but for the moment I just wanted something other than the faded baby blue haha.


difflocked_mees PowerTryp Yep that's pretty much it. I will try to do everything I can on my own, but I've got to be realistic with my own abilities, especially considering the timeline for the project.


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Is this build sponsored then?


So are we going to go vintageish Trans-AM styling? That would be awesome.


Eh, shoe-string budget?



90nissanS13@my350z Still shoestring budget, he's just not paying for any of these parts. 'Sponsored' build.


I bet there's gonna be a post in the future titled "cutting out the floor for the new Roadster Shop/Morrison chassis."


Oh boy. This reminds me a lot of the Speedhunters FR-S built by Keith, can't wait to see the final product ! These draws got me hyped.


I'm just here for the garage burnout at the end.... nice combo of bits, looking forward to seeing this progress and hopefully steer muscle car styling in an unconventional direction.


Seeing that paint scheme with the gold stripes reminds me of the Tokyo Motor Show Kenmeri. Bronze TE37V's for Project Yankee?


Speedhunters sema build, this is gonna be a crazy good one


SnoozinRichy Mike Garrett you might have to keep these guys happy. I vote number 11s in the garage at the end of it all :D


So custom motor mounts, custom trans mounts and conversion to manual trans.$$$ Shame to see the 340 go away and another 5.7L tossed in. That IQ3S is going to look out of place with that stock dash unless it comes out. Good luck! I hope when they cut up the firewall they seal it up good, I
seen a few folks take some bad shortcuts in body repair.


Glad to see the ingine stays in the mopar family instead of going the easy LS swap way lol


The stock OD trans is a mistake.
If your are going through this much effort, put in a 5 speed and be done with it. Passon has a 5 speed that drops in, Legend makes a nice trans and even a TKO is light years ahead of the weak link you are leaving in there to grenade.
It won't take much hammering with that 5.7 to destroy that trans.
Like the idea though...


speedhunters_dino SnoozinRichy Mike Garrett agreed agreed, a big ol burnout until you can't see the damn car anymore. Super excited for this one. I've been wanting to do something similar for quite some time now, and I'm routing for you man!


I like this v8 article over the fiesta one.
I love the v8 fiesta... but I havent read the full article. Ive yet to see all the pics. I hate the words used...
I saw the title... then I literally purposely scrolled down to the part of when Larry or whoever wrote that got to explaining why a v8 fiesta is a good idea... I felt myself just drop and went "ugh... fuck this"
Like @reverendsexpleasure said... it does get tiring to look at words justifying a v8 swap... and as far back as I cared to google search... this justifying has been happening since 2011 and beyond
And he does sound like a guy justifying hondas.
This article is a lot nicer because it doesn't have a hint of v8 justification.
Maybe I am reverendsexpleasure.


Matt Khoun Hahaha. Does a 1970s Dodge even need V8 justification?


KevinWesley Hey Kevin,

I've spent a lot of time drooling over your build threads. Big inspiration for my own car, although my won't be quite as competition-focused. That fab work is just beautiful.

As for the trans, I actually had this gearbox and most of the parts when I was still planning to run the 340 so I figure I'll put it behind the Hemi and see how long it lasts. If the OD blows then I'll likely be moving on to one of the options you mentioned. That Passon unit looks beautiful!


@max Haha. Is it strange that I don't mind LS swaps in Toyotas or Nissans at all, but the idea of putting one in an old Mopar is pretty off-putting?


jackal426 Actually, dimension-wise a 5.7 isn't too far off from a small block. The bolt-in mounts are similar, the bellhousing/trans are the same as would be used behind the 340 as is the trans mount. And no major firewall cutting is needed. I've got a dash solution that I've mocked up that I think looks pretty nice, but obviously there will be no pleasing everyone.


CharlesSangollo I'm hoping so!


HLB You have good eyes indeed!


SnoozinRichy I'm dreaming of those celebratory burnouts right now! Maybe on the Vegas strip?


Esawo Now let me try to fulfill the hype! Haha.


jbfromsiliconvalley Not this year. But maybe at some point in the future? I'm working on a pretty tight schedule/budget at the moment but I'm planning to do lot more with this car after "phase one" is complete.


Mike Garrett Matt Khoun no, no it does not


3nigm4 90nissanS13@my350z Sponsors are indeed helping out with many aspects of the build. I'm extremely grateful for that. and I'm going to do my absolute best to make sure their investments are worthwhile. 
However, I never used the words "shoestring budget" and I can assure you there is still plenty of personal expense involved here. Ramping up this project is the reason why I made the decision to sell my shiny new Mustang and start driving a 1993 Infiniti G20 every day.
With that said, I'm confident that when this car is done - even considering market price for every part used the total investment should still be in the same ballpark as a new decently equipped VW GTI or a low trim Mustang GT. A lot of that is due to the fact I'm using a relatively affordable '75 Dart as my base and not an ultra-popular  'Cuda, '69 Camaro or '68 Mustang fastback. 

Hope that makes things a little more transparent.


donkyyyyyy There will indeed be some of that involved :)


@onepointfour Parts of it yes. Parts of it no.


Hi, just wondering, does the yellow sticker stay/be removed fom the flywheel? I love the bright raw steel. But i love stickers too :)


It's gonna be build of the year, *cough still waiting for G20 update cough* (^o^)


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You should convince Caliber Customs to loan you the driveline out of that red Hellcat Challenger for Project Yankee instead, Mike.


Mike Garrett


Not sure how far you are into some of the fab work to get stuff installed, but if you want to review where you will have trouble, get in touch with me.  I'd be happy to let you know some of the difficulty I had and where you need to explain things to the non-early-Mopar guys you probably have working on the car.

I haven't looked too hard, but curious what your suspension plans are.  For the love of all things, don't cut the front suspension off if you ever actually plan on running the car at the track.  If you just want the look and cruise it to shows, do whatever you want.

What's the ECU plan?  So far I've been really happy with the Hotwire harness and stock ECU with a cal.  One of the few things that didn't give me any trouble during the build.

I like the rendering.  I still have not put mirrors on my car yet and have often thought the fender mounted mirror would be interesting.


*looks woefully at piggypank*
Piggy bank scowls at the idea of going to sema whilst in the middle of a project car
*hangs head*
But my finance issues aside, stoked to see this one get SEMA serious.


Matt Khoun Not to be rude or anything but, what the hell else would you swap in?


I think I'm less interested now than i was when Project Yankee first started.  I thought it would be a cool build thread within reach of the average car guy... but i don't have sponsors or parts showing up at my door..

I love the AT to MT conversion but the new motor / old car combo is well played out..


@Lost me Sorry to hear that. Here's hoping the final product won't be as "played out" as you think it will be.


NicholasDixon Hmmm....


@kart_works G20 update is coming soon. Like within the next week or so.


KamilOsman Sadly I think it will be removed ;)


KevinWesley Mike Garrett Hey Kevin,
Shoot me an email when you get a chance. Mike (at) I'll fill you in and also have some questions for you regarding a suspension setup.


@Lost me a GM, FoMoCo, Toyota, or Nissan product. But in a Mopar? Not hardly played out. 

I hope to see Mike do something fantastic with the suspension. Mopars of this era have some interesting potential to play out with. I had a '77 Diplomat that was a 318/727 that was a fun car to play with. Certainly nothing like this, but I've long felt post-73 through '85 small-block rear-drive Mopars were overlooked by enthusiasts around the world.


HLB Matt Khoun Mike Garrett given the fender-mount mirrors, wheel choice, etc. in the teaser images, I think there's nothing that would pay homage to the Japanese inspiration and new direction of Project Yankee than a twin-turbo Slant Six. Not quite a 2JZ but it's the closest American thing we've got. Do you like your yakisoba with Tabasco?


Sweet. Thanks for taking the time to reply to all of us. It means a lot.


I think you should do some land speed and standing mile racing with this bad boy.


RB430 Thanks much! I agree on the '70s and '80s stuff. Love me some Volares and Aspens but sadly they are hard to work with here in California thanks to our smog laws.


donkyyyyyy Anytime.


Mike... goes without saying really. No. A mopar a body doesnt need justification. Dumb question tbh (no butthurt intended)
but in saying that... neither does any ls/v8 drift car or fiesta. We've been explained the good logic of v8 swaps for like... a decade now. Bout time to stop telling us why. Its gets really tiring...
Cause I really do like that fiesta.... but larry man. Pls no/but y tho/ stahhp./y u do dis.
@hlb... I don't get why you ask. I didnt say anything along the lines of changing the engine.
And its an A body mopar... its blasphemy to go non dodge motor, really. But if ur going v8 why not hellcat? But why stop at hellcat when you can go v10? But why why stop at v10 when you can go 8 rotors with dodge 13b engraved on each housing?


The Yank might very well be my favorite project right now, and this is clear evidence of it. I have been delving farther in the Mopar direction and am definitely excited about the Hemi transplant. Currently I have a '97 Daijiban project that once it fulfils it's duty of vanning me out east I'm looking to pull the automatic slushbox and possibly swap out the 360 Magnum, and I've been tempted to source out a Hemi. I'll keep an eye on this as I'm sketching out the whiteboard, see if anything is useful for my own build. But aside from all of the inspiration, I am super stoked with the direction you are taking this.

Those render teasers are killing me!


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Are you sticking with the stock manual steering or will you be going power steering with one of those small Borgeson p/s boxes?
I daily drive my '73 Dart with their box and love the tight, modern feeling, faster ratio steering of it.


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