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High School Sweetheart Dart GT

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In the months leading up to his 17th birthday, Don Schwenker had his sights set on a second-hand Mustang. To that end, he and his father went to visit a used car dealership, Colletti’s in Babylon, New York. He didn’t find the Mustang he envisioned, but a Dodge Dart GT caught his father’s eye. “He said to me, ‘Buy this, it has a V-8 and you can go fast with it’,” remembers Schwenker. “My father gave me $100 to put down, and Mr. Coletti, the owner of the dealership, allowed me to pay it off $50 at a time. By November 15, 1975 it was mine!”

Schwenker paid a grand total of $454.25 for the Dart, which had 71,317 miles on the clock. Though bone-stock when acquired, it didn’t stay that way for long. While it would be decades before substantial modifications were made, like just about every other teenager in that era, Schwenker did what he could afford, dressing his ride up with Cragar mag wheels, Hooker headers, and air shocks.

A few years later, the Dart was hit pretty hard from behind and though his friends thought he should just scrap the wreck since it would have been easy to find and buy another one, Schwenker had already developed an attachment to the car and was determined to have it repaired. After getting it back from the body shop, he had his 340-cid engine rebuilt with new W-2 Dodge heads. Before even driving the car with the new engine however, he wanted to make some radical changes.

“It was a Saturday afternoon in 1980 when I watched the movie Mad Max, and saw the blower on the car he was driving. As soon as I heard the blower whining, I was hooked. Then, right after the movie ended, my friend pulled up in front of my house with his blown ’32 Ford coupe and yelled, “let’s go cruising.” After 5 minutes in his car I went home and called my brother, who had a 1970 340 he was getting ready to rebuild for his 1970 Cuda. I had $3,500 into my newly built motor and told him to give me his motor and $1,500, and he could have my motor. He said OK, and I had the engine rebuilt for a blower, and the blower has been on my car ever since.”

In 1989, Schwenker got the itch to make more changes to his Dart, starting with new quarter-panels and back-halfing the chassis, so he brought it to SuperPro Performance Chassis. SuperPro is owned by Tommy V, a master fabricator and welder with decades of experience. Tommy V knew the whereabouts of NOS quarter-panels, put Schwenker in touch with the seller, and that got the ball rolling.

After the quarters were installed, Schwenker presented SuperPro Performance with a huge challenge. “Don wanted a true Pro Street look,” Tommy V explains, “but he insisted that I not touch the new quarter-panels, and making it even harder, he wanted to retain the car’s original back seat!” Tommy V thought long and hard about how to fit super-meaty tires without altering the quarters or eliminating the back seat, and came up with a viable plan. He modified his time-tested four-link suspension system by redesigning the front mount brackets and then fabricated completely new framerails using .120-inch wall 3×2-inch steel tubing in order to extend the wheel base by a full 3 inches. He also disassembled the Dart’s original back seat and modified the springs and frames so they’d fit perfectly between the 42×24-inch wheeltubs he made. He even managed to squeeze a six-point rollbar into the car without impacting the back seat.

Once the fabrication work was done, Schwenker turned his Dart over to Anthony DeDomenico for a complete repaint. After massaging the body to perfection DeDomenico applied two-stage urethane in the car’s original shade of green. Evidencing just how good DeDomenico’s work is, the body and paint look every bit as fantastic today as they did 28 years ago.

For stopping power that far surpasses this Dart’s factory braking system, Tommy V turned to Wilwood. Up front, six-piston Dynalite calipers forged from solid billets of aluminum squeeze 12-inch drilled and slotted rotors. At the rear, four-piston Dynalite calipers grip 11.5-inch slotted and drilled rotors.

While updating and upgrading so many other parts of the car, Schwenker decided to build a new, more powerful engine. Since he wanted to retain a blower, he entrusted the work to forced induction specialist Andy Jensen at Jensen’s Engine Technologies in Nescopeck, Pennsylvania. Though there’s no denying the magical allure of a big-block, Schwenker was focused on preserving the original feel of his Dart, so opted to stick with a 340-cid engine. Jensen started with the block that came out of Schwenker’s brother’s Barracuda back in 1980, but converted it to four-bolt mains for increased strength and durability. To complete the bottom end, he used a factory-forged crank supplemented by a host of high-quality aftermarket internals, including forged Crower rods and forged JE pistons. For increased breathing and reduced weight, Jensen went with Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum cylinder heads in place of the factory’s cast-iron heads.

Wiring-meister Larry Feynman extensively reworked the Dart’s factory harnesses to make sure all electrical components get the juice they need. A plethora of electrical items, including the MSD ignition coil and box, MAP sensor, and various relays mount on an aluminum panel that Tommy V made to install out of sight under the dash. The blown and injected engine sends its twist to the Moser 9-inch rear end via a beefed-up 727 TorqueFlite. The transmission was built by Tommy Derych, a Mopar fanatic as well as a master transmission technician.

Since completing the car about two years ago, Schwenker continues to do what he’s been doing throughout the 43 years he’s owned it, which is to say he enjoys driving it at every opportunity. “This was my first car,” he reflects, “and that is, of course, very special. It’s been a part of my whole family, something that I’ve shared with my parents, Marie and Don Sr., my wife and daughters, and my brothers Tommy and Fred. And beyond that, it’s also been a big part of my friendships with all of my car buddies, including Tony Palmieri, Anthony DeDomenico, Victor Leal, and Tommy V. All of these guys have been a huge help along the way, and I owe them all special thanks!”

Fast Facts

1968 Dodge Dart GT
Don Schwenker, Long Island, NY

ENGINE
Type: V-8
Bore x stroke: 4.07 (bore) x 3.31 (stroke) inches
Block: stock cast iron
Rotating assembly: stock 340 forged crank, Crower forged steel connecting rods, JE forged aluminum pistons
Compression: 8.0:1
Cylinder heads: Edelbrock Performer RPM
Camshaft: Hydraulic roller camshaft
Machine work: Jensen’s Engine Technologies (Nescopeck, PA)

Oiling system: stock oil pump and oil pan
Exhaust: SuperPro Performance Chassis custom exhaust, including long-tube headers and 3.5-inch oval pipes made from 304 stainless steel, SpinTech custom mufflers
Ignition: MSD Pro-Billet distributor, MSD Blaster 2 coil, MSD 6AL-2 ignition box
Cooling: Griffin aluminum radiator, SPAL electric fan
Fuel: SuperPro Performance custom 23-gallon fuel cell, Aeromotive in-tank pump
Engine built by: Jensen’s Engine Technologies (Nescopeck, PA)

DRIVETRAIN
Transmission: 727 TorqueFlite three-speed automatic with manual valve body built by Tommy Derych (Long Island, NY)
Converter: ProTorque 9-inch torque converter, 3,500-stall

Driveshaft: 4-inch aluminum driveshaft
Rear End: Moser Engineering chrome-moly sheetmetal housing narrowed by Tommy V at SuperPro Performance Chassis, 9-inch centersection with Wavetrac limited-slip differential and 4.30:1 ring-and-pinion, Moser 35-spline axles

CHASSIS
Front suspension: Reilly Motorsports AlterKtion coilover system, Viking twin-tube, double-adjustable coilovers, 1.25-inch antiroll bar
Rear suspension: SuperPro Performance Chassis four-link and custom framerails, QA1 adjustable coilovers
Steering: custom valved Reilly MotorSports manual rack-and-pinion, Flaming River tilt column
Front brakes: Wilwood six-piston 12-inch drilled and slotted disc
Rear brakes: Wilwood four-piston 11.5-inch drilled and slotted disc

Wheels: 15×4 (front), 15×5 (rear) Team III E-T Fueler
Front Tires: 165/80R15 Nankang CX-668 radials
Rear Tires: 31×18.00R15LT Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R

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Judges grill Trump lawyers over privilege claims

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Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather at the west entrance of the Capitol during a “Stop the Steal” protest outside of the Capitol building in Washington D.C. January 6, 2021.

Stephanie Keith | Reuters

A skeptical-sounding panel of federal judges grilled lawyers for former President Donald Trump on Tuesday about his bid to block the release of White House communications and other records to the lawmakers investigating the deadly Capitol invasion.

Trump had filed the lawsuit against the House select committee that seeks those documents as part of its probe of the riot, when hundreds of Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol and temporarily stopped Congress from confirming President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.

Lawyers for Trump argue some of those records should be protected by executive privilege, the doctrine that allows some executive branch communications to be kept confidential. They argue that Trump’s assertion of privilege should outweigh the decision of Biden, the incumbent president, to waive privilege over the documents.

The lawyers have asked the appeals court to reverse the opinion of a federal judge, who ruled that the National Archives is allowed to hand the disputed records over to the select committee.

“This all boils down to who decides,” Judge Ketanji Jackson said during oral arguments in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. “Who decides when it’s in the best interest of the United States to disclose presidential records? Is it the current occupant of the White House or the former?”

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The judges spent more than 90 minutes questioning Trump’s attorneys, Jesse Binnall and Justin Clark, about why the former president’s privilege claims should outweigh the incumbent’s — as well as whether the court even has jurisdiction to hear the case. The judges frequently interrupted Trump’s lawyers and at times sounded frustrated by the answers they heard.

After Clark argued that, on some issues, the former president will have a better grasp of the context and issues surrounding a certain set of documents, Jackson shot back, “The incumbent president will know better the needs of the executive branch” and its relationship with Congress.

“Why, then, would it be that the court should preference the former president’s concerns about confidentiality, even though he may have the superior knowledge,” the judge asked, when “we’re in a different world today because we have a different president who’s taking into account not only confidentiality but other things?”

The arguments, which were still ongoing after more than two hours late Tuesday morning, were heard by a panel of three judges on the D.C. circuit that was seen as an unlucky draw for Trump. Two of the judges, Robert Wilkins and Patricia Millett, were appointed by former President Barack Obama, while Jackson was appointed by Biden.

President Donald Trump looks on at the end of his speech during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021.

Jim Bourg | Reuters

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Mohali sees decline in Covid testing numbers

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The district administration has decided to reach out to schools and colleges in the wake of speculations on the rise of Covid-19 cases. The Deputy Commissioner (DC) Isha Kalia also formed teams to expedite the sampling to prevent the spread of the infection. There is also a decline in the number of testing which shall be increased across the district.

Speaking to The Indian Express, the DC said that testing will be increased and they are targeting the students of various educational institutes. The testing of students will take place in all schools across the district which will start on December 1 and be completed by December 16. When asked about the low number of sample collection in the district, the DC said that they had set a target to collect around 3,400 samples per day but in the last few months, due to a decrease in the number of Covid-19 cases, people become reluctant and do not bother to get themselves tested.

“Our teams are holding camps for testing but people are coming in fewer numbers, I urge the people to come and get tested and not take even the minor fever lightly,” the DC further said.

At present the health department is testing around 1,000 people against a target of 3,400.

The positivity rate of the district is also below 1 percent. The health department collected a total of 6,57,969 samples out of which 5,76,019 people had been tested negative.

The district had reported a total of 1,072 deaths due to the infection. The DC added that the protocol was already in place for international travellers and their teams have been following up with people coming from abroad. She said that the administration gets a list of passengers who have arrived in the state from abroad following which the health department teams continue to regularly check with them over phone calls and taking feedback.

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Here’s Why Lin-Manuel Miranda Cast Michaela Jaé Rodriguez in New Film

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MJ Rodriguez

MJ Rodriguez

Legends recognize legends.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s film directorial debut, tick, tick… Boom!, is garnering considerable Oscar buzz, and it’s the musical everyone’s rushing to see this holiday season.

A big part of the movie’s buzz comes from its stellar cast, which includes Andrew Garfield as Rent creator Jonathan Larson, Oscar hopeful Robin de Jesús, Alexandra Shipp, Vanessa Hudgens, and Pose star Michaela Jaé Rodriguez. The gifted cast comes together to form one of the best ensembles all year.

So how did Manuel come to cast Rodriguez, The Advocate‘s Person of the Year, in the movie? He’s admired Rodriguez since long before Pose and in fact saw her perform off-Broadway in a production of Rent. Ever since he’s been a die-hard fan.

“Well, actually it was very simple,” he told The Advocate about casting Rodriguez in the role. “We were working on the screenplay for tick, tick… Boom! and Jonathan had this friend who works in the diner with him and is like a fashion designer. She designs this dress for his girlfriend. And then I was like, well, who’s the most stylish person I can think of? And that was that.”

Miranda also spoke of Rodriguez’s performance as Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors at the Pasadena Playhouse as something that stood out for him.

“I don’t know if you’ve seen the footage of [Michaela Jáe] singing ‘Suddenly Seymour,’ where she’s just slaying it,” he said. “But I just knew I wanted that energy involved. And I just think she’s kind of the whole package. She can sing, she can dance, she’s a really amazing actress. So I think the sky’s the limit. I’m really happy she was a part of our film.”

Miranda said Rodriguez was incredible to work with and was a star on set no matter who she was acting with.

“They say never meet your heroes, but she has a genuine star aura around her,” he says. “It’s like a thing you can’t teach. But the camera loves her, she’s a star.”

You can watch tick, tick… Boom! and see Rodriguez in all her glory on Netflix now.

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