1968 Dodge Dart LO23
Herb McCandless "Mr. 4 Speed"
Courtesy HotRod Magazine – June 2016 by Geoff Stunkard
“There was a Dodge dealer in Memphis who I knew and liked, Chuck Hutton, and he was the reason I went with the Dart for 1968. He called me up and said, they are getting ready to build these new Hemi Dodges. Would you like to drive one for us?” Herb agreed but neither he nor Hutton wanted this car as a dealer-owned or loaned project. Thanks to friends at Chrysler, financing came through and Hutton agreed to let Herb pay a princely $500 per month to buy the Dart below the list price to help promote the Dodge brand. This expensive purchase meant other big changes for the young husband and father. With several years of sportsman-level driving behind him, McCandless left his then current job at a printing facility and began to race full time after getting the car in May of 1968. He did well enough in competition that he had it paid off by October.
Of course, you may be thinking, “yeah, well, I do not remember this winning any big NHRA titles in that car.” Truth be told, the NHRA was never the focus for Herb in those days, though he would drive in NHRA events for other noted teams like Sox & Martin and Dick Landy due to his factory connections. Where this car shined was on the AHRA circuit, which had a more liberal rules package and also ran their top Super Stocks heads up as opposed to the lineal index style racing NHRA then featured. In fact, before getting the Dart, Herb had even modified his big 1967 Plymouth for this reason and had already begun winning regional AHRA races early in 1968; the Dart just made Mr. 4 Speed better.
“Once the Dart got here, we set that up for the heads-up circuit. I don’t think we ran it as a legal Super Stocker. We didn’t have to do much – take off that bogus exhaust system NHRA required, get lighter stuff on it where we could, like lighter front brakes. Then we toured all over the Midwest – Kansas City, Wichita, Denver, all over that part of the country. I won that points championship. In fact, I ran 52 races in 1968 and won money at over 40 of them.” He adds: “The 1965 car was what got me started, but that ’68 car was the first car I really traveled with and we won just about everywhere with it. I didn’t have any bad days with that car.”
A special thanks to Randy Hopkins. He successfully campaigned this car in SS/AH for years and later having it painted by the original painter from 1968. Randy and I worked a deal in the spring of 2017 to bring the car home. I had the car shipped to SS AFX out in Phoenix, AZ. Greg Fernald did the restoration work to bring this car to its current factory state. I couldn’t be happier with the work!