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Edward Leasure’s 1969 Dodge Dart 340 Swinger Highlights ‘Underrated’ Car’s Potential

(Image/Edward Leasure)

When the Dodge Dart rolled off the assembly line in 1960, the economical and reliable daily driver—the smallest of Dodge’s full-size cars when it premiered—hardly made for pin-your-ears-back thrills.

This changed in 1968 with the release of the nimble Dart GTS, which boasted a 340 under the hood. While selling well and garnering positive reviews, the compact 340 GTS stood in the shadow of the Plymouth Road Runner, which came with a more powerful B-series 383 engine and was less expensive to boot.

To compete, the 1969 Dart 340 Swinger arrived with fewer frills than the GTS, a lower price tag ($2,836), its own exclusive color (Brite Red), and the same signature bumblebee stripe—we’re talking big bang for your buck.

“I think the 1968/69 Dart was one of the most underrated vehicles of its time,” said car owner Edward Leasure Jr. “Mr. Norm (the legendary Norman Kraus of Grand Spaulding Dodge) did an awesome job when upgrading these cars back in the day.”

Like the 1968 Dart GTS, the 1969 version came equipped with heavy-duty Rallye suspension, dual exhaust with chrome tips, Sure-Grip limited-slip differential, firm ride shocks, and performance hood. Car Life magazine rated it the best compact of 1969.

What do Moparians most admire about the 1969 Dodge 340 Dart Swinger?

“It is the feel of the power from the 340 and the rear tail stripe,” Leasure said.

Leasure acquired the fourth generation Dart in August 2016 (all number matching motor, transmission and body panels) and went to work transforming it into the muscle machine Dodge had intended.

“The original 33,000-mile car needed an engine and engine bay makeover along with radiator repairs,” he said. “We also upgraded the exhaust and brakes, installed 3:55 gears, and cleaned up the rear axle housing. We then buffed the car to get it where it is today. We also put a number of hours into detailing the underside of this car.”

In addition to the ’69 Dart Swinger, Leasure’s restoration projects include a 1970 Road Runner, 1964 Chrysler Imperial Crown Coupe, and a 1964 Dodge Polara Max Wedge.

“I have been a car lover since the day I was born,” he said.

FAST SPECS
Drivetrain 
• Chrysler LA-Series 340 cubic inch V8
• Stock crankshaft and connecting rods
• Camshaft rated at .430/.444 inch lift, 268/276 degrees duration 
• Single four-barrel Carter AVS carburetor
• Stock exhaust manifolds
• 2 ½ inch dual exhaust system
• A-833 four-speed transmission with Centerforce dual-friction clutch

Chassis and Suspension 
• Stock frame and suspension
• Chrysler 8.75 rear axle with 3:55 ring and pinion gears, Sure-Grip differential
• Front and rear drum brakes
• BF Goodrich P215/70/14 front and rear tires on factory wheels

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