THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1969 Dodge Dart GTS convertible drag racer owned by Jim Mango
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
Chrysler first offered the Dart GTS in late 1967 as a limited-edition junior muscle car to compete with the Chevrolet Nova SS. In stock form, it would go on to win its share of stoplight drag races. Mango’s convertible kicks things up a few notches. “It has always been a drag race car,” he says.
“It retains the 340 (cubic-inch) engine, with numbers-matching engine block, cylinder heads and intake manifold.” Mango adds that his car has a list of upgrades that any drag racer would recognize: Ross pistons; Bullet Racing camshaft; Jerico transmission; McLeod clutch, flywheel, and pressure plate; and a Lakewood bellhousing that hooks up to a Dana rear end, Strange Engineering axle and Phoenix racing tires.
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
Since April 1997
WHERE HE FOUND IT
It was advertised in a weekly drag racing newspaper published by the National Hot Rod Association. “I bought it from a former racer in New Jersey,” Mango says. “I had seen the car being raced before.”
“It was in full race mode when it was purchased,” he says. “I had no plans to restore it, just to race it. Little by little, we have updated and changed most everything in the car over the last 16 years. My father, Jack, is the crew chief and is in charge of overall maintenance of the car. We race the car mostly in the northeast -- New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania -- but have ventured as far west as Chicago, and as far south as Maryland, Virginia and Kentucky.” The Dodge’s best run in the quarter mile is 11.331 seconds at 117.805 miles per hour.
TIPS FOR OWNERS
“If you want to race,” Mango advises, “be prepared to spend money not only on the car, but on transport equipment, spare parts (transmissions, clutches, tires, fuel, etc.), traveling expenses and race expenses.”
He estimates the GTS is worth $10,000 to $25,000.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“I really enjoy racing the car because I love the challenge and excitement of driving a stick-shift car,” Mango says. “Leaving the starting line at 7,000 RPM (revolutions per minute) and then shifting three times -- all before an eighth of a mile -- is a thrill that I look forward to every time I get in the car.”