A real LO23 1968 Dodge Hemi Dart Super Stock … that’s what Ron Collins of Phoenix, Arizona had been looking for all his life. “I saw one at National Trails Raceway when I was a kid, ” Ron told us. “Ever since then I’ve wanted one.” That first LO23 1968 Dodge Hemi Dart Super Stock that he saw at the racetrack in Columbus, Ohio was a red one owned and raced by Akron Arlen Vanke. Now Ron has his own real L023 and it is one of his proudest possessions.
This week Collins has posted his LO23 1968 Dodge Hemi Dart for sale on the Cars On Line.com website. (Click here to view the ad in the Mopar Section.) For those of you who have attended Mopars On The Strip, a big Mopar show in Las Vegas, Nevada, you’ve probably seen Ron’s real LO23 1968 Dodge Hemi Dart Super Stock featured in the display at the Cannery Casino. It was the 13th car built at Hurst Campbell in Detroit out of the total of 80 produced for Mopar racers that year. Ron has the CertiCard and a paper history of the car. The pedigree is verified by the VIN number on the dash and the Shipping Order (SO) number on the trunk.
Today the car remains in its racing trim from when it was set up for racing by well-known Mopar builder Ray Barton for a client in Alabama. Barton had Ed Quay do the back half and the cage. Ron currently drives the car on the street to shows. He says it starts every time and runs well just like any street car should. Even with the 18-inch Mickey Thompson Sportsmans on the back he says he can cruise on the freeway. That’s something you don’t see everyday.
Collins purchased his real LO23 1968 Dodge Hemi Dart Super Stock from his childhood friend Jim Pancake in Delaware, Ohio. Pancake owned the Chrysler dealership in Delaware called Carriage Town. That was about 10-and-a-half years ago, says Collins.
The car was originally purchased by Larry Miller who raced it as Millers King Dart back in the day. The photo below shows it in green paint the way it looked that first year it was raced. The second owner turned it into a Pro Stock race car.
The third owner was Larry Prososki who raced it as the “Spider Car” from 1971 to 1972. Around 1980 it was featured in the Direct Connection Catalog in a black and white photo.
Eventually the fifth owner, John McGill from Alabama who owned the Checker Drive In, wanted to race the car again and had Ray Barton build it for competition. The checkered paint you see on the car today came from the Checker Drive In.
The Ray Barton Hemi 426 was built .60 over. Collins detuned the ’68 Hemi Dart from the Ray Barton build so it was a little more mild mannered for the street. He replaced an 856 cam with a 675 cam, and put in a set of Crollers lifters.
Collins says his car is one of the “first batch” of Darts produced by Hurst Campbell before the Chrysler strike that year. About 50 cars were first ordered to be built. But later in the year the total rose to 80. Rumor has it that the last ten were a late order from Mr. Norm at Grand Spaulding Dodge.
At the height of the “muscle car wars” Chrysler dropped the “A bomb,” the A-body car that is still considered to be the world’s fastest muscle car, the 1968 Dodge Hemi Dart SS by Hurst Performance. To compete with the Yenko Chevrolets and the Shelby Fords Chrysler Corporation put their biggest engine in their smallest cars, the A-body Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda. The result was a fiberglass front Super Stock lightweight racer that could do the quarter-mile in 10’s off the showroom floor (with a little tuning.) They resurrected the Cross Ram manifold and added it to the mix to produce the fastest cars in the world. The Dodge Hemi Darts were coded LO23 and the Plymouth Hemi Barracudas were BO23.
Most notable about the ’68 Hemi Darts was the fiberglass hood with the huge scoop and lightened body. These Super Stock cars are often referred to as light weights. Hurst stripped these cars of everything including window regulaters and installed lexan replacements for the side window glass. Collins says, however, that the passenger side thin Corning glass windows are still intact from the factory. Non-adjustable Dodge van seats were installed with aluminum brackets. The rear wheel wells were pounded out with sledgehammers to accomodate larger tires. Collins says two brothers are said to have done all the wheel wells. He notes that on every car the left and right wheel well were slightly different because the technique of the two brothers differed. They were built for drag racing and included a non-warranty disclaimer. They were shipped in gray primer with black fiberglass front ends.
Below is a video that Ron Collins and his son put together to show the raw power and sound of this incredible LO23 1968 Dodge Hemi Dart Super Stock. Click the arrow in the video window to watch the YouTube video: