FEBRUARY 2023: A 1970 DODGE DART SWINGER 340 GOT AWAY…AND THEN CAME BACK

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James Kuharchuk was a young car guy in 1976 when he purchased a 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger 2-door hardtop equipped with the famous 340 small block coupled to a factory 4-speed A-833 manual transmission.

In short, James purchased lightning in an A-body (Mopar compact model) skin.

The Dart Swinger was designed to run with the big dogs on the street because of its light weight and sheer power when it was equipped with a 340 cubic inch engine.

Jim Sutherland

None of these facts were lost on James when he bought the Swinger and it became his courting car with his future bride, Pat. However, the reality of marriage, mortgages and parenthood spelled the end of the line for the Swinger at that point in their lives when they sold it in 1982.  James told MyStarCollectorCar “It (the Dart Swinger) went when we bought a home and had kids”.

Fortunately, James sold his Swinger to a person within Pat’s extended family circles, so he was able to keep tabs on the car throughout the ensuing years. 

The car had undergone some major cosmetic changes over the years, including a body-off restoration with a new Panther Pink paint scheme that replaced the Swinger’s original factory red. The complexity of the restoration process meant the Dart Swinger was now in a Humpty Dumpty phase that intimidates most car guys because of its complex nature.

A dismantled car typically becomes a very difficult puzzle on its own, let alone with some of the pieces missing in action, and the Swinger was in the missing pieces group. The former owner last registered the car for the road in 1991 and contacted James in 2017 before he sold the car outside of the family, an informal agreement made between the two car guys back in 1982.

James seized an opportunity to repurchase the car from his youthful memories and once again became its proud owner. The body shell was perfect, even though it was no longer red, but James realized it was a period-correct pink and the bodywork was completed at a very high level, so he left the car in its new color for practical reasons. James had to ask himself this important question: “Why would you paint it?”  

As mentioned, the rest of the car was completely disassembled, so James had to conduct a careful research process so he could figure out where the bags of screws, clips and parts went on his Swinger.

James also replaced any pieces that were not up to his restoration standards for the revitalized 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger, but he added, “Most of the bright work is original on the car”.

The reconstruction process took about two years and James paid careful attention to the details along the way, including its factory wheels.

The amount of pampering directed at the ’70 Swinger by James prompted his wife Pat to christen the car “The Queen” to illustrate the kind of attention it receives from him.

The 53-year-old Dart Swinger never looked this good when it left the factory and may even be “almost too nice to drive, but every trip in the car is a trip down memory lane for James and Pat. 

Jim Sutherland

BY: Jim Sutherland

Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section. 

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