1970 Dart Swinger

1970 Dart Swinger

This Swinger 340 was originally sold in Hawaii and brought back to the lower 48 by a military serviceman in 1982.  It sat in a barn until 1989 when it was sold to someone who began a seven-year restoration.  Work was done in his garage and he did an amazing job on this car.  When I bought this car, I already had a Plum Crazy 1970 Challenger E-Body, a 1970 Plymouth GTX B-Body, so I figured a 1970 A-Body would round out the collection nicely.

One thing not compact about the Dart Swinger 340 was its performance. With the power-packed 340 joining the option list in 1968, the meek little Dart was transformed from Clark Kent to Superman.  The smallest muscle-Dodge earned its reputation as a hardcore member of the Scat Pack by applying its 275 horsepower to substantially less mass than the bigger Chargers and Coronet R/Ts. Horsepower-wise the 340 was an even 100 less than the big 440 Magnum, but because it had less weight to lug around, it ran on a par with its bigger brothers. In showroom stock trim, mid-14-second ETs were a piece of cake. Of course, headers, steeper axle gears, tweaking the jets and bumping the timing would put you well into the 13s. And the beauty of it was that no one expected this humble little “compact” to knock off the varsity players like Cobra Jet Mustangs, SS 396s and GTOs.

But it definitely could. Chrysler’s 340 was a performance-only engine. Almost all other small blocks came in multiple versions from tame two-barrels all the way up to potent four-barrels (Chevy’s 302 being an exception), but there were no bread-and-butter passenger-car versions of the 340. The 340 shared the same 3.31 stroke with the 318, but had a greater bore. Intake valves were big 2.02s, same as Chevy’s high-performance heads.The hydraulic cam wasn’t real aggressive but it got the job done, and the self-adjusting lifters saved lots of Saturday afternoons and valvecover gaskets.  Typical of Chrysler performance engines, the crank was forged steel. The stock exhaust manifolds were decent, but a good set of headers would really wake up a 340. Chrysler supplied a floor-shifted three-speed manual transmission as standard equipment.  The venerable TorqueFlite was optional with either the column shifter or a console/floor shifter, and the Swinger 340 was the only ’70 Dart to get the classic four-on-the-floor option. The console/floor shifter was only available with the optional bucket seats and unlike the intermediate Coronet R/T and full-size Charger, manual-transmission cars had no console option.  This is a 4-speed car.

MCG 02-98 2-pageMuscle Car Review 12-98 2-page

Bill Sefton
Bill Sefton
Bill Sefton, Chicago native, and passionate car collector. Currently retired, but still involved in the car collection community. Reach out, happy to connect!