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When is a car buildup finished? To some the answer to that question is “never” as continual upgrades are expected for as long as they own the car. But for me, I’m the type that pretty much has a vision of what I want the car to be, how I want it to run and what I want it to look like. So when it is finished, I’m the first to know. But in the case of the altered wheelbase ’63 Dart I’ve been chipping away at here for the last year or so, I’m breaking my own rules.

I’ve performed final assembly and gotten the thing in running condition – even had it lettered – without doing any body work, chrome plating or detailing of any kind! Yep, it’s got plenty of raw, rusty steel and I’m not going to do a thing about it – for now. Oh sure, the raw steel tubing of the roll bar and surgery scars from the mini tubs and altered wheelbase operation are protected by a heavy coating of Rust-Oleum brush paint, if all that stuff was allowed to turn orange, it’d be a bitch to prep later on for the “real” final assembly. But that’s as far as I went.

You see, I like to say “you either own the car, or the car owns you”. I’ve got one car that surely owns my ass. It’s a super shiny altered wheelbase ’63 Nova that’s lettered up as the “Wilshire Shaker.”

Go to our sister site MaxChevy for a look-see if your pentastar leanings aren’t too rigid (hey, at least it has a Mopar pushbutton 727, super stock leaf springs and A990 seat). The Nova turned out exactly like I wanted it too but the problem is the darned thing is too nice to drive. I keep it in a bag 99-percent of the time. Oh, it’ll run hard when I set it free, go to YouTube and search Wilshire Shaker video for some neat wheels-up antics.

But in the case of this Dart, I decided to wrap it all up and get it running on the street without cosmetics. I tell myself this is like the sea trials the Navy puts new ships through before final fitment of the superstructure and armament. In sea trials mode, there is no way to harm the paint because there is none. But it’s also a great way to set yourself free from the neurotic stuff that goes with a shiny new car, the stuff that adds so much hassle and worry to the whole experience. Sure, some of the yard birds say I’m being lazy and irresponsible. I just hop in the thing, flip ‘em the bird and lay fifty feet of rubber as I scoot away from these sour nay-sayers.

So check out the photos of the latest progress on this insane little critter. The funny thing is how lots of people ask if I found the car in some old barn. When I answer it’s just over a year old, they either love the raw edge and say “don’t do a thing” or ask “so when ‘ya ‘gonna paint it?” What’s your opinion?

The engine of any car is its heart and soul. It must be right. Centering around one of Rick Allison’s new A&A 440-port Max Wedge cross ram intake manifolds. I cobbled together a budget 440 that was born in a ’78 Dodge motor home. It’s got a cast crank, KB Silv-O-Lite 9.75:1 hypereutectic slugs, mildly ported 452 heads with Milodon 2.08 / 1.74 stainless valves, hardened seats, MP stamped steel rocker arms with Isky adjustable push rods, an Isky Mega 290 hydraulic flat tappet cam with single springs and dual box stock Edelbrock 500-cfm carbs. It runs happily on 91 octane unleaded and makes 439 horsepower and 500 foot pounds – all for under 7,000 Buckeye-Vernons. Joe Jill and Scott Emley of Superior Automotive put it together. Without the A&A cross ram it just wouldn’t be right for this car, now would it?

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