1969 Dodge Dart Swinger 340

In the early 60’s Dodge made cars using their famous max wedge engines that dominated drag racing at that time. These cars should have been great muscle cars but they were not because they were hideously ugly. A prime example of this was the 1962 Dodge Dart with the 413 max wedge engine, a 400+ horsepower engine in a light body. This was a killer at the drag strip but unfortunately the car looked like this:
1962 Dodge Dart 2 door ( 413 Max Wedge )
However, by 1967 – 1968 Dodge had come full circle and their car bodies moved from the circular, tubular body style to a rectangular, boxy body style. The 1968-1970 Dodges and their Plymouth cousins all have a similar boxy body style with convex body panels that really captures the muscle car look. In 1969 the best budget muscle car in my opinion was the Dodge Dart Swinger 340.
1969 Dodge Dart Swinger 340
The Dodge Dart Swinger 340 was low price, looked good, had the excellent 275 horsepower 4-barrel small block LA 340 V8, in a body several hundred pounds lighter than their B-body cousins and came standard with a 4-speed manual with a Hurst shifter. I would have ordered the optional 3.91 axle with Sure Grip differential. Although some would prefer the Dodge Dart GTS which could be equipped with the 335 horsepower B 383 big block or even the 375 horsepower RB 440 big block, I think the small block 275 horsepower LA 340 is a better match for the A-body Dart. The A-body Dart is lighter than its B-body cousins by several hundred pounds so it doesn’t need as much horsepower. The big block would make the Dart too nose heavy affecting the handling. The A-body frame was not really designed to mount a big block so it is a very tight fit. (Think about replacing the spark plugs.) The 340 was probably significantly underrated at 275 horsepower so the actual horsepower difference between it and the big blocks was probably smaller than the rated horsepower difference. (On the downside the shorter stroke, high rev 340 doesn’t develop as much low rpm torque as the longer stroke 440.)  Also, the GTS was several hundred dollars more expensive than the Swinger 340. Another nice thing about the Dart and the Dart Swinger is that they had an economy compact car reputation so the Swinger 340 could be made into a sleeper by removing the bumble bee stripes and exchanging the louvered hood with an ordinary one. This was the last year that the Dart came with the boxy rear end. In 1970, the rear end was radically re-styled and in my opinion lost its muscularity.
1969 Dodge Dart Swinger 340

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s