Ever since he was a boy just five years old, Ken Riddle has been filled with a love for all things Mopar. His most prized possession is now a 1969 Dodge Dart known as ‘Enemy’. The Dart is the culmination of many painstaking hours spent in the shop building the road car to run hard on any drag strip and look good cruising the countless miles in between.
Raised in the early 1970s, Riddle was inspired by his father and his father’s employees to start a life of drag racing and eventually his own entrepreneurship. The first car he ever owned was a 1968 Dodge Coronet, and that car led him to later acquire several 1968 and ’69 Darts, several Plymouth Roadrunners, Dodge Daytonas, and Super Bees and Chargers. “I always seem to go back to the body style I have now though,” he recalls of the Mopars he’s maintained over the years.
Riddle got his latest Dart from 1969 through a friend. “He did drag and drive events in the early 2000s and the ’69 Dart has always been a favorite,” Riddle says of the reason for the purchase. “Since then it has been a work in progress. I am always changing it and trying to make it faster and more competitive all the time.”
Although Riddle’s Dart has been using drag occasionally for decades, he has only competed in drag-and-drive competitions for the last 10 years. He originally ran the Dart with a generous dose of nitrous oxide on board, then switched it to a fan configuration before finally settling on the current turbocharged setup.
“It got its name ‘Enemy’ because it exploded three weekends in a row from a little crack in the block that took forever to find,” laughs Riddle, who even has a custom Arizona vanity license plate to go with the name. .
Thanks to his day job – owner of Kenny’s Exhaust Works in Arizona – Riddle is more than capable with piping and welding. He built the big tire, the rear half of the car and handled almost every part of the process himself.
Riddle mounted the Mopar LA cast-iron 360 small-block and bored it out to allow for 408 cubic inches of displacement. A Mopar Performance 4-inch stroker crank cranks JE piston-capped Eagle H-beam connecting rods to a compression ratio of 8.5:1. The Edelbrock cylinder heads contain a plethora of parts, such as 160/202 Edelbrock stainless steel valves, Harland-Sharp rocker arms and Edelbrock springs and retainers.
He buttoned up the bullet using ARP fasteners and capped each row of cylinders with classic Mopar Performance valve covers. Riddle then installed an Edelbrock Air-Gap intake manifold in the valley and a Quick Fuel Technology 650cfm blow-through carburetor that sits atop the showpiece
Putting his exhaust manufacturing skills to work, Riddle custom built a set of headers to feed and expel the hot air from the single 76mm turbocharger system. Auxiliary components, including dual Precision wastegates and a TiAL blow-off valve, keep boost levels in check when Riddle gets a little rowdy while riding. Finally, he used a Dodge truck intercooler to complete the forced induction system.
Riddle made sure the engine would receive the correct amounts of oil and fuel so that it could withstand the grueling punishment that drag-and-drive events put on performance vehicles. He did all the plumbing with Earl’s fittings and hoses and made sure a Melling high volume oil pump was included. For fuel, the Dart was equipped with two separate fuel pumps, one for race and one for street, along with a 12-gallon Jaz Products fuel tank, Aeromotive regulator and an MSD 6AL-2 ignition control system to aid in the burning of the contents .
To round out the powertrain, Riddle backed the engine up with a Gear Vendors overdrive-equipped Turbo 400 automatic transmission from Hughes Performance and ProTorque converter. Power is transferred to the Moser rear case via an aluminum driveshaft, and the Strange aluminum third section and Moser shafts help it finish the journey to the curb.
When it came to upgrading the Dart’s suspension, Riddle opted to keep things mostly stock and pay homage to the muscle car’s original shape. “I run stock front suspension and have only slightly modified the rear with Strange dual adjustable coilovers,” he notes of the setup. “I also have Strange brakes in the rear and factory discs in the front.”
Inside, Riddle once again stuck to a no-nonsense style for its Dart. “I opted for standard black upholstery and factory floors with Jaz bucket racing seats,” says the owner, who has everything he needs to hit 8-second strides at his fingertips.
An Autometer Pro-Comp racing dashboard, matching Autometer gauges, Grant steering wheel and performance switch were minor additions while still staying true to the car’s original look. Even the sun-drenched and weathered dash adds a subtle vibe that adds to the legitimacy of the Dart’s street-legal status.
Outside, the “less is more” theme continues. The aft deck is accented with a subtle drag-style wing, but it’s the short wheelie-bar setup and Deist Safety single parachute that hint at the performance capabilities of the deceptively modest street-legal Mopar muscle car
Finally, Riddle had his good friend, Gary Goodrich, spray paint the Dodge Forest Metallic Green tint over his craft. “It’s still a steel body, but I added a fiberglass hood and front bumper,” he says.
Riddle, an accomplished drag-and-drive competitor who has raced across the country and at prestigious gatherings such as Drag Week, entered the inaugural Sick Week event in 2022 and self-tuned his 1969 Dodge Dart.” I always run Pro Street and I think the biggest win is being competitive with a small cubic inch engine,” says Riddle, who likes to produce big, smoky burnouts with his Hoosier rubber-wrapped Weld wheels.
Impressively, he finished fourth in class with an overall average of 9.639 seconds and 138.74 mph, although he had previously run only 8.77 seconds in the 1/4-mile at 152 mph. “My ultimate goal is to run in the 7-second zone, and I will hopefully deliver that during the next Hot Rod Drag Week or Sick Week once my 426 ci Hemi goes in,” confirms Riddle.
Whatever he does, Riddle’s street-legal 1969 Dodge Dart is the culmination of many years of hard work, dedication and help from those closest to him, including his wife, everyone at Don’s Hot Rod Shop and Chuck’s team. Hawk Automotive.
Car: 1969 Dodge Dart
Chassis: Ken Riddle second half
Engine: Ken Riddle 408 cubic inches
Cylinder heads: Edelbrock
Crankshaft: Mopar Performance 4-inch stroker
rods: Eagle H-bar
Force adder: Turbocharger
Transfer: Hughes Performance Turbo 400
Torque converter: ProTorque
Fuel management: Fast 650 blow through carburetor
delay: Strange Engineering double adjustable coilovers
Brakes: Strange technique
Ties: Hoosier (rear) and Goodyear (front)
Fastest ET: 8.77 seconds
Fastest MPH: 152mph