Junior Dynamite for D/Stock Dragging!

The 1966 D-Dart

So you’ve never heard of the D-Dart? You’re not alone. One of Dodge’s more obscure factory drag packages, only 50 of these specially assembled, 273 small block-powered giant-slayers were constructed…just enough to legalize them for competition in the NHRA’s D/Stock category where legal entries had to weigh 10.60 to 11.29 pounds per advertised horsepower. With an advertised shipping weight of 2,946 pounds, the 275-horsepower D-Dart came in at 10.71 pounds-per-horsepower, on the advantageous border of the 10.60 – 11.29 D-Stock range. All were 4-speed equipped, none were automatics.

The D-Dart was an effort to spur interest in the compact, entry-level Dodge Dart and its popular A861 273 Four Barrel small block option. Sure, HEMI® engine-powered monsters stole the headlines, but they represented a mere fraction of actual customer purchases. The amazing thing is that Dodge assigned the D-Dart VIN with the same “LO23” prefix that would later be shared with the 1968 HEMI Dart! This makes identification a snap for today’s collector. This wonderful example surfaced at the 2014 Barrett-Jackson collector car Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The following new product release from the Dodge News Bureau gives a perfect look at the “package” and how Dodge restricted messing with the ingredients.

“A new 275-horsepower Dodge Dart GT that meets D/Stock specifications of the NHRA, AHRA, and NASCAR has been introduced for 1966. The D-Dart has a shipping weight of 2,946 pounds.

The D-Dart features a modified 273-cubic-inch engine with a special four barrel Holley carburetor. Other features include: A special Camcraft camshaft (284 degrees with .495 intake and .505 exhaust, Racer Brown valve springs, a modified, full-breathing intake manifold, a low-restriction air cleaner, and a Weber clutch. Other standard items include a heavy duty 4.86:1 Sure-Grip 8 ¾ inch rear axle, free-flow exhaust headers by Doug of California, a four-speed manual transmission, heavy duty suspension and 6.94 x 14 B.S.W. tires.

The D-Darts are regular production line automobiles. Additionally certain, service repair parts will be available through the Chrysler Parts Division, so that owners of earlier Darts may convert from the 235-horsepower to the new 275-horsepower version of the 273 V8 engine.

The D-Dart has been certified by the sanctioning agencies in the D/Stock class. It is expected that this car, properly prepared, will be a top contender.

A high idle speed minimizes roughness, a high numerical axle ratio is used for top acceleration, the distributor is modified for quick advance, and the ignition system is optimum engine output. Due to the expected use of these vehicles, no warranty coverage applies.”

Despite several feature stories and racer profiles in nationally circulated enthusiast magazines like Hot Rod, Car Craft, Hi-Performance CARS and others, these little screamers never got their due back in the day. In fact, their existence wasn’t generally recognized until the mid-’80s when somebody noticed they shared the sacred Super Stock (“O”) VIN designator with certain HEMI cars. Not to be confused with Dart GTs (or Plymouth Barracudas) equipped with the A861 235-horsepower 273 Four Barrel (which had a smaller Carter AFB four-barrel carburetor, mild .405 lift cam and ho-hum iron exhaust manifolds), the D-Dart represents Dodge’s solitary effort at shining a light on the 273 small block for drag racing.

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