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#1592870 - 03/14/14 03:02 PM Hotchkis 76 Dart Build *Updated 20 March 2014
Dan@Hotchkis Offline
super stock

Registered: 05/22/12
Posts: 841
Loc: Santa Fe Springs, CA
I think the cat is pretty much out of the bag as to Hotchkis building a 76 Dart for Kevin on this site. The guys working on the car are the same folks who assemble all of our components we sell as well. So I think it is time for some pictures!

Hotchkis Performance East is our all-new facility in Mooresville, North Carolina that specializes in custom fabrication, cooling system optimization, racing safety equipment design and installation, and race car prep in addition to manufacturing and installing Hotchkis Sport Suspension products. It is headed up by Kevin Bryde, a designer and fabricator with over 17 years’ experience in motorsports. Kevin’s career has let him work with some of the most talented drivers in the industry including Dick Trickle, Tony Stewart, Sterling Marlin, Dario Franchiti, Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Truex Jr., and Jamie McMurray. Most recently Kevin worked for Chip Ganassi Racing in its Engineering Department where his duties included design, fabrication, and prototyping for NASCAR, Indy Car, and Rolex Sports Car race cars. Kevin also has over ten years’ experience in all aspects of driver safety, including seat, head restraint, and race car cockpit design.


Hotchkis Performance East's latest project is a complete buildup of this 1976 Dodge Dart for Kevin Wesley, creator of the Hotchkis Autocross Taxi and avid driving enthusiast. Kevin's goal for this car is to have a car that he can take to compete in events like Targa Newfoundland and Pikes Peak, so this car has to be fast, but it also has to be safe. It will be receiving a full FIA-based roll cage, a modern 6.4L Hemi and Legend GT-700 transmission transplant, full Hotchkis TVS suspension, and more. Stay tuned to this thread as we continually update it with new pictures of the build as we overhaul this former Mopar econobox.

As you can see, when the car first rolled in the shop it was already stripped down and had an old roll cage in it. Though it looked a little rough, it was in fairly good shape and the body was straight and mostly rust-free.

Even the roof was rust-free and only had the adhesive residue from the original vinyl top.
[SIZE=3]Step 1: Engine Mounts[/SIZE]

The first thing we had to do with the Dart was to get its new Mopar 6.4L HEMI and Legend GT-700 transmission into place. Once we determined how much clearance was needed for the oil pan, headers, steering rack, etc, we were able to begin to design the mounts.

Once we got all of our measurements, it was off to the drawing board. What we came back with was this beautiful piece:

Now we were free to create the frame mounts and test fit the mounts together. Here's the passenger side:

And here's the driver's side:

As you can see, the clearance is perfect and the new HEMI looks quite good in its new home.

More photos of the engine mounts here:

[SIZE=3]Transmission Crossmember:[/SIZE]

The final step to marrying the modern 392 HEMI and Legend transmission to the car was the fabrication of a new transmission crossmember. Here you can see one of our master welders and fabricators working on the end plate to the new crossmember:

And here's a close-up of his steady hands at work:

More welding:

Here's the finished product. Gotta love the color of welding:

And now to fitting the newly fabricated crossmember to the car:

More photos of the crossmember here:

[SIZE=3]Step Two: FIA-Based Roll Cage[/SIZE]

Now that the engine and transmission have been mounted, it was time to construct the roll cage. Because of the different races the owner wants to be able to use this car for, we needed to make sure that all of the safety equipment conformed to the necessary regulations so that it could be raced anywhere in the world. After consulting with the Rally America Competition Director Mike Hurst, it was time to begin the construction. But before we could do that we had to cut out a few sections of the existing cage.

Once the parts of the old cage were removed we began by constructing diagonal bracing and rear kicker braces that connect to the main hoop. Because this is going to be a leaf spring car, the rear kickers had to extend all of the way to the rear mounting points of the springs.

Now that the basics were covered it was time to add the increased protection required by the higher levels of motorsports. First up were the door bars, which help protect the driver and passenger from cabin intrusions from contact during wheel-to-wheel racing or from collisions with other objects. After laying out the design on the table, we bent the bars to match the pattern before fitting them to the car.

After the bars were tacked into place, we double checked all of the measurements and angles for compliance before fully welding all of the joints.

To make this cage as strong as possible, the main joints all received additional bracing and “taco gusset“ reinforcement.

A good roll cage will tie into the unibody structure in as many places as possible. Not only does this make the vehicle safer, but it dramatically increases the rigidity of the unibody, reducing chassis flex during hard cornering. Here you can see the installation of the A-pillar gussets that are critical for driver safety in the event of a roll over.

More photos of the safety cage construction here:
But a proper safety cage doesn’t just end at the firewall. It extends all the way through the engine bay to reinforce the front clip and add stiffness to the front of the car. This added rigidity helps handling by allowing the suspension to do its work without having to control chassis flex while also delivering improved driver safety.

Regulations require the mounting points to be 18 square inches, so to maximize area we developed a compact mount with multiple fingers to better fit the unique curves at the corners of the engine bay while also helping to spread the load over a larger area.

The next step to reinforcing the front end was to tie these new bars into the upper shock mounts. Like the star-shaped mounts on the firewall, these mounts are fabricated out of 16-gauge sheet metal and are designed to disperse the tremendous forces the upper shock mounts will see during racing events.

Here is the finished product with completed firewall, frame, and shock mounts:

Now it was time to work on the bay bars that will tie the two shock towers together. But before we could start designing those we had to check how much clearance we had between the engine and the hood.

Even thought he clearance was tight, there was still ample room to fit the bars without contacting the hood or the intake manifold. Now it was time to take our measurements and begin constructing the bay bars (which act similar to a bolt-in strut/shock tower brace in street cars).

After creating the basic structure of the bay bars we reinforced them with new gussets.

Here is the finished product with the ends trimmed down for access to the bolts for easy removal:

More photos of the Engine Bay Bar construction here:

#1592871 - 03/14/14 05:44 PM Re: Hotchkis 76 Dart Build [Re: Dan@Hotchkis]
IndyDave Offline

Registered: 08/04/12
Posts: 163
Loc: Speedway In.
Uh, WOW!
Dave Dusterberg
1979 Aspen R/T (soon to be #19 CAM/T)
2002 Ram 1500 SLT
2005 Magnum R/T
2005 Mustang GT SCCA CAM/C #19

#1592872 - 03/14/14 05:47 PM Re: Hotchkis 76 Dart Build [Re: IndyDave]
BigBlockMopar Offline

Registered: 01/22/03
Posts: 3387
Loc: The Netherlands
Some nice work in progress going on there!

#1592873 - 03/14/14 07:42 PM Re: Hotchkis 76 Dart Build [Re: BigBlockMopar]
Supercuda Offline
I Live Here

Registered: 09/04/07
Posts: 13681
Loc: up yours

If you guys has a TV/Internet show just showing this build in a professional manner (not clown like) it would be awesome.
They say there are no such thing as a stupid question.
They say there is always the exception that proves the rule.
Don't be the exception.

#1592874 - 03/14/14 08:46 PM Re: Hotchkis 76 Dart Build [Re: Supercuda]
PHJ426 Offline

Registered: 11/16/05
Posts: 3456
Loc: Fly Over States
Quality work there.

Keep the updates coming.

#1592875 - 03/14/14 09:14 PM Re: Hotchkis 76 Dart Build [Re: PHJ426]
340duster340 Offline

Registered: 01/20/03
Posts: 4323
Loc: NY NY
awesome build. awesome welds.

#1592876 - 03/14/14 09:14 PM Re: Hotchkis 76 Dart Build [Re: 340duster340]
Dan@Hotchkis Offline
super stock

Registered: 05/22/12
Posts: 841
Loc: Santa Fe Springs, CA
Thanks guys. I'll post more as the build progresses.

#1592877 - 03/15/14 09:56 AM Re: Hotchkis 76 Dart Build [Re: Dan@Hotchkis]
Uhcoog1 Offline
super stock

Registered: 05/12/05
Posts: 721
Loc: Houston Tx
Love the build!
-'02 Dodge Viper Ex-World Challenge racecar
-'73 Duster, 6.1 based 392 hilborn hemi, tko600, full floater rear 9", Hellwig custom bars, viper brakes, built for road course

#1592878 - 03/15/14 10:55 AM Re: Hotchkis 76 Dart Build [Re: Uhcoog1]
Satilite73 Offline
I Live Here

Registered: 01/19/03
Posts: 12686
Loc: Between Houston & Galveston TX

I love the fact you're not gutting it to the outer skin and basically starting over with a tube chassis. You're working with the car as built.

I wish I had even 1/1,000,00th of the skill needed to pull off that kind of fabrication.

#1592879 - 03/15/14 12:44 PM Re: Hotchkis 76 Dart Build [Re: Satilite73]
jrlegacy23 Offline

Registered: 06/09/06
Posts: 698
Loc: Cooperstown, NY
Looks great. Is it going to done in time for Carlisle?
1972 Dodge Dart, 340 reverse manual Auto, 4.10 gears, Mini-tubbed, Hotchkis rear suspension, still working on front suspension 2004 Dodge Dakota Quad cab 4x4, 4.7L V8, Dual Exhaust, 3" Lift, 315/75/16 Nitto Dune Grapplers

#1592880 - 03/15/14 01:24 PM Re: Hotchkis 76 Dart Build [Re: jrlegacy23]
ntstlgl1970 Offline

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 548
Loc: Sac, CA, USA
So in one of the pictures of the roll cage fab, there is an electric steering assist motor - are you going to include that in this build? That would be cool to see how that is done

#1592881 - 03/15/14 01:37 PM Re: Hotchkis 76 Dart Build [Re: ntstlgl1970]
Dan@Hotchkis Offline
super stock

Registered: 05/22/12
Posts: 841
Loc: Santa Fe Springs, CA

You never know with these things. The biggest limiting factor is overall vehicle weight and forces put on the unit by ratio and tire size. Always fun to try something new.

#1592882 - 03/15/14 04:00 PM Re: Hotchkis 76 Dart Build [Re: Dan@Hotchkis]
72Swinger Offline

Registered: 02/23/11
Posts: 4302
Loc: Nebraska
Kevin has teased me with this hot rod for a while now and its also being shown on Really good ideas from this build and to me that is the best part and why I appreciate you guys sharing what you do. Now if I could get David Barton to share a few details about his 850hp Gen III engines we would be golden lol...Oh and this thing is getting an electric assist steering setup from what Kevin has divulged in a couple posts elsewhere.

Edited by 72Swinger (03/15/14 04:01 PM)
Mopar to the bone!!!

#1592883 - 03/15/14 06:10 PM Re: Hotchkis 76 Dart Build [Re: 72Swinger]
teflon Offline

Registered: 08/01/08
Posts: 286
Loc: Catskill, NY
Awesome build and those welds are fantastic. It will be a shame to cover them with paint.

#1592884 - 03/18/14 08:27 AM Re: Hotchkis 76 Dart Build [Re: teflon]
NV69B7RR Offline

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 5884
Loc: Reno, Nevada
Thanks for sharing! You have some very talented fabricators at Hotchkis East. I look forward to the updates on this build. Keep up the great work!
68 AMX track car
72 Demon 340
71 Duster 340 Resto

#1592885 - 03/18/14 10:17 AM Re: Hotchkis 76 Dart Build [Re: NV69B7RR]
brads70 Offline
super stock

Registered: 01/10/09
Posts: 810
Loc: Ontario,Canada
Cool stuff!

#1592886 - 03/18/14 11:35 AM Re: Hotchkis 76 Dart Build [Re: brads70]
dickdale Offline

Registered: 03/18/10
Posts: 272
Loc: The Netherlands, OV
Nice build!

#1592887 - 03/19/14 08:36 AM Re: Hotchkis 76 Dart Build [Re: dickdale]
Gavin Offline
top fuel

Registered: 01/24/03
Posts: 1671
Loc: London, England
Fabulous work, really looking forward to seeing this done and with Kevin driving too I expect it to shock a few people!!!
71 Challenger convertible - 414 W2 Stroker.............Car progress can be viewed here!

#1592888 - 03/19/14 11:00 AM Re: Hotchkis 76 Dart Build [Re: Gavin]
Consulier Offline

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 254
Loc: USA
Details on the electric steering conversion I posted on FABO.
You shove the unit from a Vue/Cruze/Equinox under the dash and run a controller available on eBay.

I'm using a Hower 2:1 steering quickener between the column and the manual box. That will give me 12:1. If I want faster I can switch to a 20:1, or 16:1, box to speed it up more and even go to fast ratio idler/pitman to adjust even further.

Since $$$ seems to be a hot topic in the thread, let's look at how much is going into this solution.

Used Vue column $100
eBay controller $65
Howe Quickener $92
U Joints/Couplers/Steering Shaft $325
Borgeson Manual Box $380

Wow... $962 for a complete electric steering solution with steering box. Price out a new FFI box (or Borgeson), rebuilt column, pump, pulleys and it's pretty much a wash.

What really drove this decision? The headers... 2" TTI Gen3 will not clear any power steering box. It's a heck of a lot cheaper to put in this solution than have a set of custom headers built. Plus, better packaging, adjustable, etc...

Kevin Wesley

#1592889 - 03/19/14 11:11 AM Re: Hotchkis 76 Dart Build [Re: Consulier]
brads70 Offline
super stock

Registered: 01/10/09
Posts: 810
Loc: Ontario,Canada

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