Whether you live to love them or prefer to leave them, the A-Bodies are the undisputed underdogs in the Mopar musclecar realm. This is a notion that is keenly felt by owners of the small-block variety. Yet while the 340-powered Demons, Dusters, and Swingers may have suffered from a perceived lack of grit and glamour when compared to some of their Chrysler contemporaries like the Hemi 'Cudas or 440 Challengers, they represented a "no apologies" budget entry into the world of stock street performance.

Given their placement at the bottom of the totem-pole, it's little wonder that these feisty critters became the used-and-abused members of the family. It was this "thrash 'em and trash 'em" mindset that has, today, made certain A-Body restorations a most difficult proposition. Just ask Kevin Paul of Wallingford, Connecticut. Passion led prudence when Kevin purchased this '70 Dart Swinger in 1989, but a vision, love for the vehicle, and a dedicated approach to parts acquisitions resulted in one of the best restorations of this breed we've come across.

"I always wanted a 1970 340 Swinger," says Kevin, "because I grew up in a '70 Dart six-cylinder my parents bought when I was young. That was my first car when I got my driver's license. The 'Space Chariot,' as my brother and his friends called it, [would be his transportation] when he drove the car through college in the late '70s."

Kevin first spotted this 340 Swinger at a Mopar show in 1988. It was for sale by owner-D.A.R.T.S. car club president Joel Cooper. Kevin says, "It was a nice 50-foot street car," sporting a new paint job, nice original interior, and had survived almost two decades without being thrashed or pulled apart. The numbers matched, and all it really needed-Kevin thought-was some TLC.

A few months later Kevin received an insurance settlement, and after laying aside some of that money for a new home, decided it was "time for a new toy."

"I called Joel Cooper in April of 1989, took it for a ride and purchased the car. I had to have it because I love the color-Top Banana Yellow-and it was a four-speed.

"I drove the car until November 1991 as a fair weather car. Then it started to get a bit tired and a little rough on the edges."

Ever since Kevin was 12- or 13-years-old, he had always wanted to perform a total restoration of his favorite Mopar. And even though he purchased the Swinger with the notion of driving it, somewhere in the back of his mind he knew that this would be the resto project he'd dreamed about. Beginning in 1990, Kevin started the arduous task of collecting parts. His first purchases included an NOS grille, headlight bezels, and turn signal indicators.

About the time he pulled the Swinger off the road, Kevin contacted Wayne Ackroyd, a friend and top-shelf professional in the body arts. Wayne placed Kevin on the waiting list, then in September of 1992, he received the green light.

"I drove the car about six miles to his house," says Kevin, "and it felt like it was ready to fall apart."

From here the Swinger was stripped to its base elements, including much of the sheetmetal. Kevin said that every body panel except the rear valence, passenger side fender, and main roof section was replaced, "along with both inner fenders, driver's floor (front and back), quarter panel trunk drops, driver's shock tower, and rear frame rail."

While the body was being tended to, Kevin sent the 340 to Frank Pikor of E&G Automotive in Wallingford for the machine work; balancing and boring the block .030-over, grinding the mains and rods 0.010-under, porting the "J" heads, and mating aftermarket rods to TRW pistons. Frank also let Kevin spend numerous hours cleaning assorted parts on his bead blaster. Once the short-block work was under control, Kevin handed the engine build-up task to Eric Lode, a friend and neighbor whom Kevin had known since he was seven years old.