Dodge Dart Rebuild [Part 1]

I bought me a car!


1963 Dodge Dart GT

Two door hard top, 3.7L slant 6, push button 3 speed TorqueFlite




The plan is to make this my daily driver…


All I need to do, is fix EVERYTHING…


This is my first American car.

I’ve always driven MGs and Triumphs, and spent a number of years working on both old and new Jaguars.


I bought it because:

Everything is there.

Chrome, interior, glass, handles, engine, gearbox, etc…

And it only cost $200.


The California Black plate sticker says 2003, brake pedal goes to the floor, LOTS of surface rust, bottom of doors, wheel arches, floorboards of passenger compartment.

But it is straight, no accidents, (well except for the usual small dings from the last 55 years.

The head is off the car and I was told that it was rebuilt.

The head was off because the car was smoking.


They (said) they took off the head, replaced the valve seals, put it back on, and found that it still smoked.

Removed the head again, and found that the tank was full of diesel.

Hmmm, interesting story, could be true, but I’ll double check it first…




And now the rebuilding begins….


First thing, build a shade structure in the back yard.



Then put the car on jack stands, which should be easy, right?

Everything on this car will be EASY, RIGHT?


Begin to remove wheel nuts (WD40 them the night before), but the left rear nuts are seized on, so loosen all the other three, and go back to the left rear.

Using a two foot breaker bar, lean on it.


It moves a 1/16 of an inch.

Lean on it again.


Stud broken.


I had been wondering why, in the random bin of parts, there were 5 brand new wheel studs.


Ok, see if any of the other nuts come off.






Oh, wait, if I break off all the studs, then the wheel will fall off, and there is nothing holding up the car.

Easy, just jack up the car.

Wait, no, that won’t work, then the wheel just spins.

Conundrum: I need the car on the ground to break off the studs, but the car can’t be on the ground when I break off the studs.

Solution: Put a jack stand just under the rear of the car, so that it is REALLY close to the car, but not actually holding it up.

Put bricks front/behind all other tires to make sure it does not move.







Wipe sweat from forehead.


Well that was easier than cutting them off.



[[[[[[Update: The next day.

One of my Facebook friends: “Hey, aren’t those reverse threaded?”

Me: “Who would be stupid enough to put reverse threaded studs on a wheel?”

Answer: Dodge.

Those studs have an L on them, because they are Left Hand threads.

Someone had obviously changed the front studs to the more traditional type, because they come off easily, but the rear were still the original.

Well that was stupid of me. Now I know, but I am not keeping them original, they will be like everyone else, because we all need to be the same….




Jack up car and put it on jack stands.



Now find out how bad the rust is in the passenger foot-well.

Remove front and rear seats.

Break off one of the studs on the seat runners.

That one is going to be annoying, as I will probably need to weld a new stud onto the seat. (Damn).

(I don’t *usually* break things when I undo them, but I guess I will need to use the propane torch more often…)


Start prodding in passenger foot well.

Hmmm, is my hand supposed to go through the carpet and the floor?

Is one of the floor seatbelt mounts supposed to rip out with just the twist of the wrench?






So I will need to replace the floors.

Ok, more work (and money) than I thought.

But on the plus side, it’s an even greater excuse to buy a MIG welder.




The interior vents, under the dash, were FULL of leaves and dirt.

When I opened the little doors, all leaves and dirt just fell through the rust hole in the floor.

I knew there was a good reason to have rust holes in the floor.




Things you find under the rear seat of at 1963 Dodge.


My helper who is not helping.



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