Behind The Scenes: Dart Machinery Shop Tour
Racers and street car enthusiasts alike know the name Dart Machinery. The Detroit, Michigan company founded over thirty years ago that got its start making cylinder heads. Twenty years ago, Dart manufactured their first engine block. Today, the company not only offers some hardcore race and street/weekend warrior blocks and heads that are some of the best in the business, they also offer assembled short blocks and top end kits that include parts such as intake manifolds, gaskets and all the parts needed to top off an engine build.
Made in the USA…that’s a label still worn by Dart’s products. The company not only designs and engineers their products in the USA but also manufacturers everything it offers right here as well. “When you buy a part from Dart, you don’t just buy a part. You buy all of our experience, all of our ingenuity, you buy us and our grantee to you that this stuff is going to do what we say it’s going to do. We stand behind what we do 1000-percent,” says founder Dick Maskin.
Dart has a manufacturing philosophy of using technology to offer a good product while improving efficiency in the manufacturing process and maintaining customer support. This allows them to build a quality product here in the USA, at a competitive price, during a time when many similar manufacturing jobs such as these have left the country in the name of cost savings.
Dart’s investments in technology not only allows their products to be competitive but also allows them to control product quality. Dart actually makes their own foundry tooling and patterns. You might expect this type of strict attention to detail from an OEM like the “Big Three”, but such stringent standards and control are not nearly as common within the aftermarket. “If you can control the process starting there you make a much better product ultimately,” says Dart’s Jack McInnis.
If you can control the process starting there you make a much better product ultimately.
Dart recently acquired a Zeiss Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM). This device allows for stringent quality checks and recording of product specifications. The CMM measures even the small details of a component and records them accurately in a computer.
Dart also acquired and implemented the use of a Gehring CNC honing machine, which allows precise and consistent honing results in all their finished block products and helps them to maintain tight tolerances. This equipment not only allows for a better product for their customers but it also allows improves efficiency in the manufacturing and quality checking processes.
All Dart blocks are designed and manufactured in-house. Whether it’s a hardcore race-only billet block or a small block Chevy SHP block, it all comes from the same people, in the same place. Each Dart block is inspected and the specifications are recorded in Dart’s records for future reference.
All the cast iron block include such features as priority main oiling, four-bolt mains on the center mains on the SHP line with four-bolt mains available on all locations in the race line and some optional SHP blocks. Other block features include Siamese bores, extra thick decks and blind cylinder head bolt passages that don’t pass through water jackets.
Quality control is in place from start to finish, from the foundry to the final machining, nothing leaves Detroit with the Dart name without making sure it’s 100-percent in all facets.
Dart offers a variety of cylinder heads for a multitude of street and racing applications. Years of experience building heads for Pro Stock cars has provided the technological foundation and expertise necessary for a quality cylinder head program. Heads are available in cast iron or aluminum. There are a wide variety of applications and options available for all domestic makes.
Aluminum heads start as raw castings and are then sent to the CNC machine to be transformed into either race or street components. Customization for hardcore applications is available for racers and engine builders looking for that extra competitive edge or unique design features.
Another area of special interest is their billet engine block line. The billet blocks are custom built based to racer or engine builder specifications. These custom built jewels are not for your average street car, this is what the big boys call for when they want to make serious horsepower. Billet blocks can be custom built with some wild specifications to suit most any engine build. It’s all done in-house and all under the highest quality control standards.
American Made Quality
By making quality a priority and using advanced technology such as their Zeiss CMM machine to check accuracy and record data on engine blocks, the latest in CNC technology for producing high tech cylinder head designs as well as the newly acquired Gehring CNC honing machine to produce OEM level results on engine blocks Dart is not only offering it’s customers more for their money but also a better product built in the USA.
In recent years Dart introduced the SHP product line. This product line consists of blocks, cylinder heads, top end kits and assembled short blocks geared more towards the high performance street car enthusiast or the weekend sportsman racer.
While Dart does not offer complete crate engines, the SHP line does offer the assembled short blocks built alongside their hardcore racing engines and given the same level of attention to detail and precision as those engines. McInnis tells us, “You might wonder why Dart would be assembling short blocks. The fact is we can afford to put together an assembly that competes price wise with the OE offerings and yet is a premium package with all good, aftermarket, brand new components.“
Top End Kits
If you ordered a Dart SHP shortblock, chances are you’re going to want components to help you reach your desired power goals. The best way to do this is to use parts that are designed to compliment your short block. Dart has a solution here as well. Dart top end kits consist of intake manifolds, valve covers, gasket sets, and cylinder heads all matched to your horsepower goals and your short blocks capabilities. This is the perfect way to top off your new Dart short block.
From it’s humble beginnings over thirty years ago in a small garage to today’s state of the art company – Dart Machinery has come a long way, but they’ve never forgotten about their commitment to the racer and enthusiast. If it says Dart on the parts, you can rest assured you’ve got a partner in horsepower to stand behind their claims, and to keep on building winning parts.