Sherwin Kiesshauer is a Man on a Mission
*Photos by: the author
When Chrysler introduced the Dart in 1960, it was far from being marketed as a performance car. But when the late ’60s and early ’70s came around, a performance lineage is what sold cars. Cars like the Charger, Challenger and Daytona would become icons as Mopar musclecars of the era. It was during this time that the little Dart even started to get some muscle.
When the Dart finally stepped into the musclecar market it was 1967, and the Dart GTS is what muscle junkies wanted. The car was available with either a 273 ci. small-block, or the adventurous type could get theirs with a 383 big-block. In 1968, the small-block that was standard in the GTS was Dodge’s new 340 V-8. By 1971, the A-Body Dart was entering its fourth generation, and this time, even a new name was being used that had an attitude to match that of the Dodge’s 340. All it took was a small cartoon-like image of a mischievous little “devil” to evoke the attitude of the new Demon, and the ire of many that felt it was in poor taste.
The concept of a cartoon being controversial was new in 1971, but as innocent as it may seem, the little cartoon devil that complimented the rear of the ’71 Demon and the name itself, spawned a lot of controversy with several religious groups. The name instantly struck a nerve, and they immediately started pressuring Dodge to change the vehicle’s name. Dodge eventually gave in to the whining, and the Demon became the Dart Sport in 1973. But, enough with the history lesson, what we need to do is check out Sherwin Kiesshauer’s all-Demon Dodge.
As we jump into the way-back machine, it was in 2012 when Sherwin Kiesshauer—a very uncontroversial Mopar enthusiast, decided that he wanted a Demon. It wasn’t the controversy that intrigued him; all he cared about was that the he liked the looks of the body style. As much as the lines of the car garnered his attention, he also knew that a stock rendition wasn’t what he wanted. A huge Mopar fan, Sherwin has an unbelievable collection of cars.
Take for instance his blown altered wheel base ’65 Dodge, or his injected ’64 altered wheel base Dodge. And, let’s not forget mention his small block powered Dodge Colt—which is your author’s favorite. Let’s face it, even as good as the little 340 engines are, he needed a Demon that “possessed” a little more. After a fairly easy hunt, what he found is sort of what you see here. We say sort of, because Sherwin was lucky enough to find a project car that had been started with good intentions, but then abandoned by the previous owner, and relegated to residing in the back of a garage under wraps.
The 440 that now resides under the hood was built before Sherwin got the car, and was one of the pieces of the puzzle that came with the car. The RB block is filled with parts like a stock steel Mopar crankshaft with Manley connecting rods and JE pistons. A solid bottom end for sure. Spinning inside the block is a COMP Cams hydraulic roller stick. Unfortunately, Sherwin is not sure of the specs, but the slight lump at idle assures us that it has some decent numbers. Topping the engine is an Edelbrock RPM intake and a Holley 780 Carburetor. Cylinder heads is where a lot of power can be gained or lost, and this 440 uses a set of heavily-ported Edelbrock Performer heads. Altogether, the pistons “squeeze” to right around an 11.0:1 compression ratio.
Some guys like shifting their own gears, but in Sherwin’s case, shifting gears is easy, with a 727 automatic transmission. The hydraulic gear changer was put together by Mark Leslie of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and is built to last with heavy-duty clutches, and a Coan 10-inch torque converter that “stalls” at around 3,500 rpm. Finally, a Strange 60 rear end is supported by a set of Mancini Racing Super Stock Springs, and is filled with a Trak-Lok differential and 4.56 gears. Those gears are just fine for street driving, since the tires on the rear are Mickey Thompson’s massive 31 x 18 inch radials, surrounding 14-inch Billet Specialties wheels.
Up front, an Alter-k-tion K-frame was used, which not only makes installing the big block a breeze, but also adds an improved suspension geometry, rack and pinion steering, and disc brakes.
In case you didn’t notice the interior, shame on you. The inside of the car truly is a work of art that is done in a Buckskin-colored leather. The guys at Craftsman Upholstery in Manassas, Virginia, get the credit for covering the former mini-van seats, building and covering the custom door panels, and even installing the Mercedes-sourced carpeting. Talk about plush, this comfort-infused monster even features a Pioneer touch screen stereo system.
A Flaming River steering wheel and tilt column are connected to the rack and pinion. The console is also all-custom, and houses a B&M Quicksilver shifter, the switches for the power windows, and the aforementioned Pioneer head unit. The dash has been completely modified with the removal of the factory gauge cluster, so that the dash could be custom built to house the bevy of AutoMeter Phantom gauges.
The overall look and personality of the car blends an old-school, street and strip persona, with a dash of modern pro-touring thrown in. It truly is the best of both worlds, even if it is a Demon.
Randy Bolig is no stranger to musclecars, with his ride of choice being of the Mopar contingent. Bringing his talents from print over to digital, he’s a well noted author of many tech manuals and once held the top post at Mopar Muscle Magazine.