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1969 Dodge Dart Swinger 340 - It’s Easy Being Green

Ron Haglund's '69 Dart Swinger

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There's a subtle, perceived hierarchy among the Mopar clan. It's never really vocalized, but it's there all the same. The buzz always seems to be about Hemi motors, E-bodies, big-inch big-blocks, and even B-body cars that are never acknowledged as being "big". When the Pentastar people get together, one of those topics will always be at the forefront. While that's OK, none of those topics applies to Ron Hoglund's approach to Mopar performance. And he's OK with that.

Much of the aforementioned perspective has to do with size and the concept that bigger is better. But somewhere in this mix is the real truth that lighter is better. So instead of some big Hemi-powered Satellite or Super Bee, Ron went after that little lightweight 340 Swinger and—dare we say it—a four-speed! It doesn't matter that most of Mopar's drag history was written by big-block wedge motors and Hemis. The fact is that this combination scoots. Rarely acknowledged, small-block, four-speed Swingers are light, quick, and can get down the track in a hurry. This simple combination has already been 12.60s at 115 mph, and Ron is always on the lookout for ways to make it quicker without sacrificing its street manners. That's why it's only spinning a 3.91:1 rear gear—anything more and it takes away from driving it everywhere.

But then there are some things that should be enlarged. Take this small-block. Ron started with a 340 block, but enhanced it slightly. He pushed it with an Eagle stroker crank, I-beam rods, and Ross forged pistons to crank out 418 inches from the LA-block. But there's some subtlety going on here because those are iron X heads. That keeps the rest of the world guessing about how well these ported heads flow. Combined with a healthy Cam Motion cam, you can bet that this little small-block sees some rpm.

Everything basically screams that this car was built to perform rather than just pose. The Hoosier tires aren't there because they have a great treadwear rating, and the Cal-Tracs bars are there for only one purpose: to plant those rear tires. Ron likes to show off his ride as well. He's been to the Ohio Mopar Nationals and the Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit, and of course, the Car Craft Summer Nationals in his backyard in St. Paul, Minnesota. That's where we first saw this no-nonsense Mopar basking in that total-horsepower show that happens every July at the Minnesota State fairgrounds. Ron says he belongs to the IBM car club, which stands for "I Built Mine". That tells you a lot about Ron. He knows this little A-body inside and out. And frankly, it is easy being green.

Tech Notes

Who: Ron Hoglund

What: '69 Dodge Dart Swinger 340

Where: Shoreview, MN, which is literally surrounded blue-water lakes.

Engine: No big-blocks here. Ron started with an iron 340 block and added a 4.00-inch stroke Eagle forged steel crank, I-beam rods, and a set of Ross 9.8:1 forged pistons. He had Lofgren Auto in Oak Grove, MN, machine the block to 4.040-inch bore size and fit the Clevite bearings. The Cam Motion grind indicates how serious Ron is. With 246 degrees of duration at 0.050 and 0.509-inch lift, this motor was meant to spin. Ron also had the X-heads ported, but retained the stock valve sizes. On top, he bolted an Edelbrock Performer intake and an 800-cfm Holley carburetor along with a set of TTi headers and a matching 21⁄2-inch dual exhaust system using DynoMax mufflers. How much is all this worth? Ron says it makes 487 hp at 6,000 and 504 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. That makes for a great street package with a broad powerband.

Transmission: It's almost rare to see a street/strip anything anymore with a manual trans. It's even more old school when the trans is an A-833 four-speed using a Hurst shifter and a McLeod clutch and pressure plate inside a Lakewood scattershield. There's also a driveshaft loop to provide protection, but with the Proven Force driveshaft, it's unlikely the loop will ever be needed.

Rearend: All small-block performance cars all got 83⁄4-inch rearends, and Ron has outfitted his with a Sure Grip clutch-type limited slip, a set of 3.91:1 gears, and stock axles.

Suspension: Up front, Ron has employed 6-cylinder torsion bars and drag shocks to get the front end to lift, while in the rear, the stock, asymmetrical Mopar leaf springs are now assisted by a set of CalTracs bars and 50/50 rear shocks. Don Nelson installed a set of subframe connectors to tie the body together, but that's it for any external indications of this Dart's potential. As for brakes, we think Ron relies on a long shut-down area since the Dart still runs its stock 10-inch drum brakes.

Wheels/Tires: The Swinger rolls on a pair of 15x6-inch Cragars in the front and steel wheels in the back mounting a pair of 27x10.5x15-inch Hoosiers.

Interior: Ron likes a Swinger with a stock interior, so with the exception of a Sunpro tach, this bench seat interior looks pretty much like it did in 1969.

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