The flush mount gas cap fits perfectly into the driver side quarter panel. The cap is body colored, which is the correct look for a factory original restoration.

After taking the Dart off the road in 1997, Rich did not get the Swinger back onto the streets until 2013, but the wait was well worth it. There is not an angle on this vehicle that is bad. Part of the reason there is not a bad angle on a Dart is the exceptional design by the Dodge engineers, and the rest is the attention to detail that Rich took in restoring this beautiful Swinger 340.

The fender tag was all that Rich had for documentation when performing the restoration on the Swinger. His Swinger is a pure representation of every code on the fender tag. The VIN has been blocked in this photo, but all the other data is present for anyone to research.

 

Since Rich has finished the restoration, he has put about 5K-miles on the Swinger. Because Rich likes to take the Swinger on longer trips, he eventually slipped out the rear axles and dropped the 3.91:1 center section out replacing it with a 2.76:1 center section. Now Rich can cruise the Swinger without the drone caused by the high-revving 3.91s, and he can even drive by a few more gas stations before requiring a fill up. Rich enjoys the Dart on mild-mannered weekend trips, but with the 340’s deep performance heritage, his Dart will always be a potent Swinger at heart.

 

Code                Option                          Cost

LM23   Dodge Dart Swinger 340      $3087.00

A46      Décor Group (Drip Rail and Wheel Lip Molding)   $19.60

G15 Glass, Tinted (Windshield only) $20.40

G33      Mirrors – LH outside remote control      $10.45

L31   Fender-Mounted Turn Signals  $10.80

R11           Radio, Music Master AM    $61.55

V8W Transverse Stripes – White No Charge

 

- the Professor

A date correct replacement high-compression 340 sits in the engine bay replacing the original that was installed in 1968. Rich left the 340 stock with the exception of the addition of a Mopar Performance electronic ignition distributor, constant voltage regulator (blue box on far side of engine bay), and ignition control module (ICM) (orange box on bulkhead). The addition of the electronic ignition was strictly for drivability and reliability concerns. The same concern is the reason the Carter AVS was replaced with a new Edelbrock AFB-type carburetor. Rich still has the factory original AVS, but he is happier with the newer carburetor.

 

While the interior was coming together, Rich had the 340 (not the original engine) machined at Martin Motors. He assembled the engine, attached the 340 to the cleaned and detailed 4-speed, and then Rich slipped the assembly into the Swinger’s engine bay. Rich added a Mopar Performance electronic ignition during the restoration, thus replacing the points ignition and their constant maintenance requirements. Rich also substituted the Carter AVS carburetor in favor of a new Edelbrock AFB style 750-cfm carburetor. Rich kept the AVS, but he has come to prefer the AFB because it provides him with better drivability and fuel mileage. The 340’s exhaust exits via the factory manifolds into reproduction head pipes attached to Meineke mufflers. The tailpipes that had been replaced by Dave were reused, and while at Carlisle (PA), Rich picked up a pair of stainless exhaust tips at the swap meet, which he slipped onto the factory tailpipes.

 

As Rich was applying the final touches to the restoration, the bumpers were sent to Tri-City Plating for minor repairs and re-chroming. The new shiny bumpers were attached with new hardware to the factory bumper brackets. The other bright work was polished and reinstalled or NOS (or reproduction) parts were located and installed to bring back the sparkle to the exterior of the Dart. The body colored wheels were wrapped with 205/75R14 tires and crowned with a set of reproduction dog dish hubcaps.

The trunk lid had to be replaced by Rich during the restoration. It had been previously damaged and poorly repaired, so a decent replacement lid was found. The trunk lid is the only non-original body panel on the Swinger. When the bodywork was performed, a great amount of time and attention was spent in getting the body lines perfect. The panel gaps are near perfect everywhere on the Swinger. They are much better than Dodge did in 1969. The chrome on the bumper and the tail lamp bezels is beautiful.

The 340 was painted in the correct corporate blue color for the 1969 engines. The negative battery cable was attached to the cylinder head and overspray was applied to it just like the factory did. The hoses, clamps, spark plug wires, spark plug wire looms, and even the manifold heat shield are the correct part numbers for the 1968 build date. There are very few packages that are nicer than a high-compression 340 mated to a 4-speed in a light-weight Mopar a-body.

The fender mounted turn signal indicators were an option on the Swinger. The indicators on the Swinger are the originals. Both indicators function properly and have not had any problems with the lenses cracking, which can be a problem with these lenses.

The interior is sparse but functional. The instrument cluster kept the driver aware of certain operating parameters of the engine and the vehicle speed but missing was a monitor of the engine’s RPM. Rich added the Sun Super Tach II to remedy that factory oversight. With the exception of the aftermarket tachometer, the interior is factory stock all the way down to the factory AM radio.

The power budge callout inserts let everyone know that a seriously powerful small-block engine is straddling the unibody frame rails under the hood. The high-winding 340 provided plenty of punch. Many enthusiasts preferred small-block package over the big-block package found in the GTSport because the 340 setup was considered well balanced and had a more responsive feeling chassis when compared to the nose-heavy big-block Darts.

 

Once back home, Rich quickly got the Swinger back into shape. He elected to not reinstall the 7¼” rear end that Dave had slipped under the Swinger way back in the ’80s (Dave wanted the 2.76:1 gears), instead installing the correct 3.91:1 cogged 8¾” rear end.

When Rich purchased the Swinger, it had AMC Hornet front seats in it. It took him some time to find a replacement bench seat, but eventually, he was able to locate a 1968 bench seat. He installed the saddle tan seat replacement covers that came from Legendary Auto Interiors. Legendary provided plenty of the interior components to bring the Swinger back to its original appearance. The factory-installed Hurst shifter protruding from the floor garners plenty of attention.

When Rich purchased the Swinger, a previous owner had slipped a 7¼” rear end under the Swinger. The 7¼” was out of another Dart, and it had a more highway compatible 2.76:1 rear gear instead of the factory 3.91:1 gears. Rich received an 8¾” rear end when he bought the Swinger, so he slid that under the Swinger. The rear end is supported by heavy-duty rear leaf springs. Although the Swinger had 3.91s at one time, Rich, just like the previous owner, swapped the 3.91s for 2.76s, but unlike the previous owner, Rich just swapped the center section thus retaining the 8¾” rear end.

 

Rich struggled mightily to find a quality bench seat to replace the missing factory seat. Eventually, Rich was able to find a local Mopar parts vendor that was parting out a ’68 Dart. Rich purchased the seat, contacted Legendary Auto Interiors for the correct Saddle Tan Deluxe seat covers, and completed the entire seat cover installation of front and back seats by himself.

VOLUME XIII,  ISSUE  - JAN - FEB,  2018

mopar memos The latest news, rumours & Info!

FEATURES

A 340 Dart for the Swinger at Heart

For 1969, Dodge revamped the names for the Dart model line. The base Dart, the GT, and the GTS (listed as GTSport or GT Sport in Dodge literature) were holdover nameplates from 1968, but added to the mix was the Dart Custom in a 2-door hardtop or 4-door sedan, the Dart Swinger, and the sporty Dart Swinger 340 hardtop. The base Dart, the GT, the Dart Custom, and the Dart Swinger all had engine options ranging from the slant six 170 or 225 to the 273 and the 318 V8 engines. The GTS had options for a 340, 383, or 440 V8 engine, while the Dart Swinger 340 understandably had only the 340 option.

 

The Dart Swinger 340 was the newest offering from the Dodge Scat Pack, and it was marketed precisely at the youth market. The Swinger 340 came standard with an A833 New Process 4-speed transmission, dual exhaust, heavy-duty Rallye suspension, D70-14 bias-ply tires, and an 8¾” Sure-Grip differential with stock 3.23:1 gears (optional gears were 3.55:1 and 3.91:1 gears). To separate the Swinger 340’s appearance from the everyday Darts, the Swinger 340 received a bumblebee stripe wrapping the rear flanks of the Dart’s quarter panels and trunk lid. The bumblebee stripes had a simple call out on each quarter panel testifying Dart and Swinger as the only side marking on the Dart.

 

The Swinger 340’s modest exterior theme was continued on the interior. There was not a pair of bucket seats separated by a console in the Swinger 340, but rather, a functional bench seat and a Hurst shifter handle and ball rising from the shifter boot mounted on the floor. There was no tachometer, instead the instrument cluster had four small gauges (engine temperature, fuel level, ammeter, and an oil light) and a 120-mph speedometer nestled between the gauges (two gauges to the left and two to the right). If a more luxurious ride was desired, the GTS was probably the best selection, but if inexpensive transportation with plenty of quarter-mile potential while foregoing the luxury was coveted, the Swinger 340 had to be the choice.

 

To prove the quarter-mile capability, Cragar Industries, in conjunction with Dodge and Car Craft magazine put together a fully prepped Swinger 340 to compete in F/Stock eliminator at the ninth annual NHRA Winternationals. The Swinger ended up as the F/Stock class runner-up dashing to a best of 12.72-second elapsed time at 109.12 mph on a 12.70-second class record. Best of all, the Swinger was given away in a contest after the completion of the Winternationals. To read about the buildup of the Swinger, reference For Swingers Only! in Car Craft (Feb through April 1969).

Rich Ferrari, of Trenton, NJ, was able to pick up his 1969 Dart Swinger 340 in a manner that is common among auto enthusiasts. Just like the years of your youth when you placed quarters on the pinball machine during another’s game signifying you had the subsequent game or showing up as part of a group to a neighborhood pickup basketball game mid-match proclaiming “we have next”, denoting that your team would play the winner, Rich told his friend and owner (at the time) of the Swinger, Dave Mucciarello, “If you ever sell this car, I want it.” Rich had known about the Swinger ever since Dave brought it back to the east coast in 1983. Dave was able to pick up the Swinger from a transferring Air Force Airman stationed in California. With Rich’s help, Dave rebuilt the 4-speed transmission, the rear differential, the front suspension, and the drum brakes (all four wheels). Dave had Maaco work their magic on the exterior of the Dart, and then Dave coated the engine bay, the interior metal parts, and the trunk with black Rustoleum©, all done with a brush. Dave and Rich searched the junk yards for front seats, seat belts, and interior panels. In time, they found everything they needed. They even picked up a pair of AMC bucket seats out of a Hornet. For several years, Rich worked on the 340, rode in the Swinger, and even on occasion drove the Swinger.

 

In 1993, Dave had a life changing event, and even though the Swinger was a bit rough in 1983 and continued to age, he offered not only the well-worn Dart to Rich but an additional complete drivetrain, which included a 340 engine, 4-speed transmission, driveshaft, rear differential, leaf springs, both doors, a radiator, a hood, and a plethora of small pieces, for the agreed upon price of $1500. As Dave packed up to leave for his new life in Hawaii, Rich drove the Swinger home. For several years, Rich drove the Dart as his daily driver. Not the heat of summer, the cold of winter, or the everyday hazards of daily driving an older vehicle kept Rich from driving the Dart. When it rained, water leaked onto the floor pan from the non-existent wiper pivot seals (Rich addressed this problem), the winter salt took even more of a toll on the already rusty lower quarters, and the long since replaced front seats began to lose their comfort. After four-plus years of everyday driving the Dart and over 50K-miles showing on the odometer (actually 150K-miles), Rich removed the Swinger from the road in 1997 to start its restoration to its past splendor.

The factory painted wheels were standard look for Dodge in the late 1960s. In keeping with the low option plain jane look, the dog dish hub caps were all that was necessary to get the job done. The dog dish look is so simple, yet it is possibly one of the best looks on any Dodge or Plymouth product. Instead of a bias-ply tire wrapping each wheel, a set of 205/75R14 radials complete the rolling stock for the Swinger.

 

In 1969, the Dart Swinger 340 was the newest member of the Dodge Scat Pack, and it was promoted directly at the youth market. The Swinger 340 came standard with an A833 New Process 4-speed transmission, dual exhaust, heavy-duty Rallye suspension, D70-14 bias-ply tires, and an 8 ¾” Sure-Grip differential with standard 3.23:1 gears. To separate the Swinger 340 from all the other Darts, the Swinger 340 received a bumblebee stripe that surrounded the rear flanks of the Dart’s quarter panels and trunk lid. The bumblebee stripes had a simple call out of Dart and Swinger on each quarter panel confirming that this Dart was something special.

 

At first, Rich progressed nicely with the restoration completing plenty of the bodywork during a two-year period. Then in 1999, life got in the way, and the Swinger was pushed to the side waiting for its day to shine in the sun. That day did not show up for more than a decade. In 2012, Rich was now eager to get the Swinger back on the road, but there was still some bodywork to be completed, and the Swinger needed to be painted. Rich was put in touch with George Montgomery about finishing the project. George was looking for a winter car project, and he was qualified to complete the bodywork and apply the paint. George completed the remaining bodywork on the quarter panels, and then he primed and painted the entire Swinger in the factory T5 Copper Metallic tint with modern basecoat/clearcoat paint. After the painting was completed, Rich and George hung the body panels onto the shell. The only non-original body panel on the Swinger is the trunk lid that had been damaged prior to Rich’s ownership, and it was too marred to repair, so it was replaced with a decent lid from a donor car. All of the bodywork and paintwork was completed in George’s home garage. With all the paintwork completed, it was time for Rich to take the Swinger home and complete the restoration.

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