Hart's 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger Restoration
Matching Numbers Dismantling Restoration Ti
Great Dart Links
Dart Restoration & Race Car Project
My passion for muscle cars began when I was a 12 - 14 year old kid growing up in the late 1960's in a small town. To pass the time, my friend Ben and I would build all kinds of motorized go karts while watching the older boys in town cruising the streets with their hot machines. At 18 years old, I graduated from high school and also graduated from driving my dad's 1966 Chevy Biscayne 6 cylinder 4 door sedan. While it was a great party car and drive-in movie vehicle (two buddies and a box of refreshments fit well in the trunk), it did little for quenching my appetite for a muscle car.
Soon after the move to the big city in 1970, I chanced upon a loaded 1967 Camaro SS with everything a boy wanted. It was white with a white leather interior, leather bucket seats, consol, factory mags, factory spoiler and, best of all, a wicked power plant - a 327cid engine with 350 HP, 11.5:1 pistons, and a 4 speed rock crusher Muncie shifter tranny spinning a 4.11 rear end. I picked this car up for the huge sum of $2,500. which at the time seemed like a lifetime of debt. This car was pure Chevy power at its best and would satisfy my muscle car thirst to buy lots of cheap gasoline and several sets of new tires! I sold my SS Camaro for $1,700 in 1972. Today, 31 years later, I would be hard pressed to find a restored '67 SS Camaro with the options I had for under $45,000 US. Damn it, since muscle cars were a dime a dozen at the time, who knew about that kind of investment opportunity?
At about this same time, my cousin purchased a new 1970 Plum Crazy Purple 383 Magnum 'Cuda. This was all the rage and his 'Cuda could give my '67 Camaro a spanking after I blew the doors off it until 80 mph, after which it seemed to run out of revs with the 4.11's leaving the 'Cuda to lumber by me with the big torque. Somehow, I still think getting to 80 mph fast is a lot more fun than waiting for a big block to spool up to beat you on top end.
After selling the Camaro SS, I ordering a brand new 1972 340 'Cuda of my own. I had to shell out a whopping $3,700. for that one but it was worth it to see it arrive on the delivery truck to my small town with the plastic still covering the seats. Much to my amazement, the resident garage "mechanic" advised me that he knew why I bought this car and how I would likely drive. After a quick 10 minute checkup, he took the car and me for a hair raising test drive with the gas pedal mostly pinned to the floor for the initial 50 mile "break-in" at speeds only legal on the German Autobahn. All for the sake of "setting the bearings" I was told so that the engine would be used to this future torture from day one. Well it must have worked since that car was an exceptionally fast 340 and it never gave me any trouble over three years nor burned a drop of oil.
In the late `1970's, the OPEC oil boys decided that it was time to create an oil shortage so that gas prices could climb real high. I mustered up every practical bone in my body and went along with the flow, dumping my beautiful 340 'Cuda in exchange for a bright yellow Toyota Celica. Life was good. I was getting 35 miles to the gallon with various tin cans on wheels that I went through over the period of several years; never of course abandoning my deep love for the American muscle car.
In the late 1970's, I built a 1934 Frazer Nash replica car on a VW chassis from scratch. This was a real treat building a car from the ground up. In 1983, our number one son Justin was born. (Since this was our only child, I still call him #1 son.) After Justin graduated from kindergarten in 1989, it was time to get #1 son his first car. After a couple of years of looking, I had found just the right vehicle for him. In a small town 100 miles north of Winnipeg, I chanced upon a gleaming while 1979 loaded L82 Corvette on a GM dealers lot that was a fresh trade in from some guy who was getting married and needed a more practical car! This baby had less that 50K miles on it, had every option in the book, was bought from this same dealer, had every oil change receipt, and was driven by a non smoking zealot who was more anal retentive about car maintenance than I myself was.
Now having gone through more cars and trucks than I could remember, it was nice to sit behind the wheel of a true muscle car again after my 15 year hiatus. I soon realized that #1 son also had muscle car genes in his blood and on his 16th birthday, my two babies (the 'Vette and #1 son) became inseparably joined at the wallet and the gas pump. Justin soon had me convinced that the 350 L82 power plant was somewhat sluggish and needed some help. After 5 minutes of intense debate, the old man relented and we collectively spent the wad (including his slurpy allowance) on hopping up the motor. About three grand later, we had the usual stuff added: ceramic headers, port and polished heads, new intake, cam, lifters, wires, big tube exhaust, and a bunch of chrome parts, etc. that now produced a 14 second 1/4 mile car with 350 hp.
Since Justin's high school graduation, the 'Vette now has a new life with #1 son trolling for babes, racing at the track, and attending every cruise night and show and shine leaving the old man high and dry for hot wheels. Enough was enough and it was time for a new project to further enhance father and son bonding as I patiently explained to my wife why we needed another muscle car project. Since I already had a GM product, it was time to go back to my Mopar roots and thus explains how my Dart Swinger story began in the summer of 2003...................This web site is dedicated to those interested in getting their hands dirty and skinning a few knuckles to restore a Mopar "A" Body. Patience and attention to detail makes the job enjoyable. While I was doing my restoration, bits and pieces of information were scattered about in numerous web sites. Certain things I had to learn myself the hard way by trial and error. I've attempted to provide my own collection of images and tips from what I learned to hopefully make your job easier,