The Dodge Dart has been around a long time, and although the Dart is commonly thought of as an economy car built for the budget-minded consumer, Dodge did make several performance versions of this vehicle. During the late sixties, Dodge engineers and corporate executives made the decision to not only make performance versions of the Dart, but to build them in a way that made many muscle car owners wonder what the heck just happened when one of these cars left them sitting from a stoplight. And while the 426-Hemi equipped Hurst built Super Stock Darts were limited to racers, other Darts, like the Dart GTS and Swinger models, were available with high-performance big-blocks and sold to the public through Chrysler’s dealer network.
1969 was likely the best year for the Dart in terms of performance, as buyers could get the car with any engine from an economical Slant Six, to a well-mannered 340 small-block, or even a 440 HP big-block. Growing up with two brothers who were into Mopars, Michael Swartz became accustomed to the performance of the brand. In fact, Michael’s brother, Steve, owned a Dart GTS powered by a 383, which really got him interested in big-block Darts. Unfortunately, that car also got his brother into a lot of trouble, and was sold many years ago.
Engine: The part of this car that makes it really unique is the 440 big-block in the engi
Interior: Inside, the Dart is largely unmolested, save the stick-on silver “machine-turne
Michael tried to track down that Dart, finding and contacting a previous owner who had the car as recently as ten years ago, but all of his leads had fallen through. Since Steve admits that the ’69 Dart GTS is one of his favorite Mopars, he was always on the lookout for one. Searching the Internet one day, Michael saw a recently listed ad for a factory 440-equipped ’69 Dart, and he quickly responded through e mail. Before long, Michael was speaking with the owner of the car, who described it and agreed to send him some pictures. Seeing the car, Michael enlisted his buddy Eric to make a weekend trip from Pennsylvania, to Texas, to check the car out.
Finding the car as-described in an old pole building, the current owner told Michael that the car was allegedly owned by a popular Midwestern drag racer who used it for street racing. The ’69 Dart GTS has several period correct modifications, including an older Holley four-barrel, fender-well headers, and vintage Sun gauges. The battery has been relocated to the trunk, a drive shaft loop installed, and the oil pan modified to accommodate a higher capacity. Otherwise, this Dart was a very clean example of a factory 440 GTS, and the engine and transmission are both original. After a little haggling about the asking price, Michael made a deal and the Dart began its road trip back to Pennsylvania, on a trailer.
Upon arriving back in Red Lion, and closely inspecting his new find, Michael verified that the 40,000 miles showing on the car’s odometer were actual miles. Even better, the engine and transmission are numbers matching units, and the car is in exceptional original condition. The trunk even still has the original spare tire installed, and the build sheet was found in excellent condition. Michael and his wife Shannon plan to drive and show the car as-is for a while, but then restore the car to the way it rolled from the assembly line. We love the in its “day two” trim, and think that either as-is or restored this Dart is a great piece of Mopar history. We thank Michael and Shannon for sharing their find with our readers.
Little wear: The body of this Dart is amazingly straight and rust-free, showing minimal w
Trunk: Relocating the battery to the trunk was a common modification to race and street c
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