Muscle Car Drive

Project Dodge Dart Swinger 340

This blog is detailing the restoration of a 1969 Dodge Dart Swinger 340 that was hidden and forgotten since 1978. follow along as we document the car's journey back to life.

1969 Dart Swinger 340

November 2017: Change of Direction

I have loved every moment (well not entirely true), but most moments, of finding, rescuing, and resurrecting the 1969 Dodge Dart Swinger 340. It has been a dream of mine since in grade school of finding a valuable old hidden away Mopar to rescue. However, after the excitement of the last two years was over I realized my interest is the hunt and the saving and not in driving and keeping. In early November I put up a quick ad for two weeks to see what interest was out there for the car. Within a couple of days the car was off to a new owner who can take the car to the next level and enjoy his journey now that mine is over. Here is a great video tour of the final product.

September 2017:

Showed the car at a local cruise meet today for the first time and gathered lots of attention being the car rides in "barn fresh" condition. Motor has about 1000km on it now and running much smoother and stronger than it did last month. Also, the car is surprisingly quick and keeps your attention on the road as the 10 inch drum brakes don't exactly rush you down to a stop.

1969 Dart Swinger 340 dark shot

August 2017:

A busy few weeks were spent installing the exhaust and triple checking the electrical connections. Shockingly once we put a battery in place all the lights and dummy lights worked as they did 40 years ago. On a warm afternoon in early August we fired the motor for the first time. After a 30 minute run at 2500 rpm we shut it down to cool and harden the camshaft and lifters overnight. The next day we set the timing and idle mixture and took it for a maiden voyage.

1969 dart swinger 340 lights work

Tuning 340 mopar motor dodge dart swinger

July 2017:

We spend the last two months rebulding the brakes and installing the new fuel system in preparation for the next job of installing the new drivetrain. It took a couple of wiggles to get everything squeezed back in place but was much more fun, and less greasy, than the last time we were underhood of the car.

340 mopar installation dodge dart swinger 340

May 2017: Lucky Find

We had the original date correct coded starter for our 340. Unbelievably it probably was never removed from the vehicle since it left the assembly line. We were not so lucky with the alternator. However, a local shop we know about has 55 gallon drums full of cores and has been in business since the 1950's. Lucky for us they had a early 1969 correct mopar alternator which we had rebuilt to correct amps.

Date coded 1969 alternator dodoge dart swinger

April 2017: Assembly Continues

The A833 came back and was detailed along with the shifter being rebuilt. A few more items were freshened and prepped for reinstallation with a goal of firing the car up this summer.

Detailed 340 1969 Dodge Engine

Detailed 340 Dodge engine

 

December 2016: More Engine Updates

During the winter the A833 went off for a rebuild at a trusted shop and work continued on the engine assembly. We were fortunate to have a friend with a good parts stash which meant we were able to get the correct manifolds, carb, and intake.

340 mopar manifolds

The engine was assembled to replicate OEM specifications. Factory pistons, compression, and the trick 1968 340 stick camshaft were utilized internally. The only upgrade was to have hardened exhaust valve seats to ensure worry free operation with modern fuel.

340 mopar unpainted

Fresh coat of correct 1969 only turqoise paint was used courtesy Mopar Performance. Turned out great!

340 mopar painted

 

 

November: Engine Update

It has been a busy few months at real work so little time for the restoration project. However, some steady prep work has been done to the 1969 date coded 340 block so the long block can be assembled in the next few weeks.

 

Also completed was a quick pressure wash of the engine bay which quickly revealed much of the original gold color. According to our research the car was painted over with purple in 1971 and then quickly covered with black in 1975 which means the underhoold gold paint has been hiding for most of the car's life. With some more cleaning and pressure spraying we might even see more original paint appear.

340 Swinger gold under hood

July: Drivetrain Gets Pulled Out

340 Dart Swinger engine removal

A productive afternoon was recently spent pulling out the engine and transmission from the 340 Swinger. Fortunately every nut and bolt broke free easily which made for a simpler job than was expected. Once the drive shaft and shifter linkage was removed there are only 4 cross member bolts and 4 transmission bolts to remove before pulling out the A833. Having a few hands made this is a simple job even while we laid on our backs. Since we had removed the intake and heads already we were able to pull the engine without even removing the hood.

Upon quick inspection the heads and short block look to be in very good condition with the exception of cylinder number 7 which has a stuck piston. It seems that water was leaking (or leaked) into that cylinder at some point which caused the rings to rust to the cylinder wall. We took a variety of approaches including Evaporust, AeroKroil, diesel, ATF, Marvel Mystery Oil, and let them sit for several weeks. Despite our best efforts nothing has worked to remove the rust. So, next stop for the block will be a machine shop who assure me they can get it out. Even if pitting is really bad they are able to sleeve the one bad cylinder which is great because this is a date correct block.

340 engine on stand

Some quick observations from the inspection reveal and unknown camshaft, .001 sized rod bearings, standard main bearings, cast silvolite lower compression pistons, and an extremely sloppy timing chain. Hoping to get good news from the machine shop once they've hot tanked and inspected the block.

June: Digging Deeper

The slow process of pulling the car apart continues. Recently the carpet was pulled from the interior and the heads and intake were removed to check the condition of the cylinders. Overall things look better than expected with less rust in all the areas. Watch for some "how to" articles to come up in the next few months as we undertake some repairs. We recently installed new front wheel studs as some were damaged. More to come....

May 2016: Documenting the Swinger 340

Once we got the car home it was time to give the car a quick rinse and take a much closer look at the "numbers". From an earlier exam on the car we knew it was not a numbers matching drive train but we did know it was a date correct 1969 340 engine. We also knew most of the car options from the complete fender tag which included some pretty unique options like Y4 gold metallic paint and a V88, or stripe delete, option. A quick scan underneath revealed the correct 340 K member, correct A body A833, original torsion bars, original rear springs, correct radiator, and an the original ignition coil hiding under the seat. We also pulled the rear seat and were shocked to find a perfect condition build sheet intact and readable. We now have the complete breakdown for all the options not listed on the fender tag including brake upgrade and wheel treatment.

dodge dart build sheet

For all you mopar number gurus here is a complete breakdown of the car fender tag and block:

Some helpful broadcast sheet details are as follows:

Coming Home!

After some negotiations and a few phone calls a deal was finally struck and the Swinger 340 made a trip to it's new home (dust and mouse droppings were free). The car looks even better outside!

1969 Dart Swinger 340 barn find

 

Finally A Closer Look!

Fast forward a few years and many phone calls later the current owner of the Dart Swinger 340 was willing to let me come take a closer look at the car. Upon arriving I was surprised to not find the car parked anywhere. Turns out the last time i saw the car outside someone had stolen the carb off it so the owner hid the car in a small one car garage behind his property. Driving by the property you would never have guessed that hiding in the little garage was a 340 4 speed Dart Swinger. The car was remarkably complete with the entire drive train and interior intact save for a missing shift knob and a carb.

1969 Dart 340

1969 Dart interior

Once upon a time...

In the summer of 2010 while on a family day trip we stumbled down a side road in a small rural community and was surprised to find parked in a local business storage compound a black 1969 Dodge Dart. We could make out the painted tail stripe and noticed dual exhaust as we drove by so we stopped and had a closer look. It had a bulge 340 hood, bench seat, four speed, and the all telling LM23P9 VIN tag. Cool! A true 340 Swinger car. A few pictures were taken and the phone number for the business was copied down for future reference. I've always had a love for the 340 Swinger model. Part of this comes from growing up in a mopar family and idolizing my dad's first ever new car, a 1969 Dart Swinger 340 (read about it here).However, the appeal of the 340 Swinger was also because it was an understated muscle car. The car featured a powerful drive train but with little chrome or flashy options. Forget mag wheels, decorative options, or even comfortable bucket seats - a Dart Swinger 340 was about what was under the hood not what the car looked like.

340 Bulge hood image

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