- Factory-backed Hemi car
- One of 80 built for NHRA Super Stock Racing
- Campaigned by Dick Landy and Bob Lambeck
- Low ET and top mph of 10.46/131.19 at Orange County in October 1968
|Vehicle:||1968 Dodge Dart LO23 Dick Landy Super Stock|
|Original List Price:||N/A|
|Tune Up Cost:||$500|
|Chassis Number Location:||VIN plate on the driver’s side dash|
|Engine Number Location:||Top of bellhousing|
|Alternatives:||1968 Hemi Barracuda BO29, 1968 Cobra Jet Mustang, 1969 Chevrolet Camaro COPO|
This car, Lot S110, sold for $220,000, including buyer’s premium, at Mecum’s auction in Harrisburg, PA, held July 31 through August 3, 2019.
The factory racer
In the late ’60s, when most drag racers approached the starting line wild-eyed and shaggy, one guy always seemed calm. He had an unlit cigar in the corner of his mouth, a striped Dodge jacket over spotless white slacks, one clean tennis shoe poised over the clutch pedal and the other ready to hit the gas. His cars were as flawless as his outfits, color-matched to his trucks, and proudly lettered up with “Dick Landy” and “Dodge.”
Landy raced an altered-wheelbase car in 1965, and is credited with being the first Funny Car driver. With his skill behind the wheel and his keen understanding of marketing and media, he could have given McEwen and Prudhomme a run for their money, but Landy loved the factory cars. He liked the door slammers and stockers, and that is where this Hemi A-Body came from —one of the first Hemi Super Stock Darts on the West Coast — and one of two that found its way to Dick Landy’s race shop in 1968.
The Hurst Hemis
For the 1968 racing season, Dodge and Plymouth wanted to own the Super Stock drag-racing class. Chrysler subcontracted with Hurst Performance to take partially assembled big-block A-bodies — Dodge Darts and Plymouth Barracudas — and install high-compression 426 Hemi engines, lightweight body panels and stripped-down interiors, resulting in what was known as the LO23 Darts and BO29 Barracudas. It was a one-year-only offering, and only 80 of the cars were Darts. Landy got two: an automatic, which his teammate Bob Lambeck drove, and a 4-speed, which Landy raced as a Super Stocker in ’68 and as a slightly more radical Modified Production entry in ’69.
Lost and found
Like most race cars, the Hemi Darts lived hard lives, passing from racer to racer until they hit one too many walls or were modified past the point of restoration. Dick Landy believed that this Dart had been destroyed in a fire, so when Daryl Klassen contacted him in 1996, after uncovering clues that his newly purchased Hemi project car might be more than it seemed, Landy didn’t believe him.
“He was very nice, and we would talk about racing,” Klassen told us. “At the end of every conversation, he’d say, ‘Sorry, Daryl, you don’t have my car.’” Despite that, Klassen was sure he did. It started when he sanded some of the paint off. The LO23 cars came to the racers in primer, so sanding down to find old paint schemes can give a clue as to who was the first racer to campaign the car. When Klassen started sanding, he found silver, then orange, then blue. “I grew up watching drag racing,” he said. “I knew those were Dick Landy’s colors.”
He studied old photos, and saw that Landy, with his habit for making all his cars just a little bit flashier than the competition, had added wheelwell molding and a small Hemi badge on the door. “I took off the door panel, and saw the Bondo worms on the inside where the holes had been filled. I found the screw holes in the wheelwells from the molding.” With each new discovery, Klassen would call Landy, and eventually Landy caved, looked up the numbers and was delighted to find that Daryl did indeed have his car.
Once the word got out that it wasn’t just a one-of-80 Super Stock Dart but a one-of-two Landy Super Stock Dart, other collectors started making Klassen offers he couldn’t refuse. The car found its way to collector Pat Goff, who restored it to a late-’68 spec before it went to motorsports enthusiast Todd Werner, whose collection was on the block at the Mecum event.
With estimates for the Dart tapping the edge of $1,000,000 and with Hemi passenger cars still bringing seven-figure prices, I’d have to say that the Dart’s $220,000 price seems well bought considering that it’s a real-deal Dick Landy car.
Race cars can vary in value, and with several similar machines — including multiple Landy cars in the collection — for sale at the Harrisburg auction, it’s possible that the seller simply offered too many choices to not enough buyers. Race cars of this caliber are not for everyone — it does take a special buyer to step up for these cars — and there just aren’t as many of them as there are buyers for, say, a Hemi ’Cuda convertible that can be driven on the street.
Regardless, the result is that someone got a deal on a very special car, and hopefully they celebrated with a cigar.
(Introductory description courtesy of Mecum Auctions.)