Barn Swapping: 1975 Dodge Dart Swinger

1975 Dodge Swinger

I’m not sure who it was at Dodge who thought it would be smart to give the highest performance variant of the Dart the name Swinger, but I’m glad they did. To this day, every time I see a Dart Swinger or hear about one, it brings an immature smile to my face. Not only does the name bring out the teenage boy inside of me, but so does the fun and wild nature of the Swinger. The concept behind the Swinger was a brilliant one, take the compact and budget minded Dart and stick some performance parts on it! What isn’t there to love about that combination? When this Swinger was built in 1975, emission regulations were starting to strangle V8s, so the Swinger was offered with either the 318 V8 or the 225 slant six. The one you see above left the factory with the six, but now has the 318 383 in it. Normally this would be an issue for me, but the seller still has the original motor and transmission and is including them in the sale. Find the entire package deal here on eBay with a BIN of $5k.

Dodge Swinger Interior

I have to admit that 1975 is my least favorite year for the Dart, but styling was still decent. Emissions equipment had taken its toll on the Swinger’s performance, but that was the same story for most American cars. Previous years of the Swinger were far more potent, especially the 340, but what the ’75 lost in straight line performance it made up for in refinement and improved handling. It was also safer than its predecessors, with a reinforced roof and an improved collapsible steering column. Having the 383 should help make this one a little more fun at intersections, but the six would provide plenty of smiles too! The seller claims this Swinger was discovered in a tractor mechanic’s barn and that it is highly original. Given the engine swap, I have my doubts about its originality and would want to inspect it closely before coming to any conclusions. It isn’t uncommon for these to have their motors swapped out so the fact that they have the original engine is a major plus.

Dodge Dart Swinger

The late ’70s proved to be a hard time for Muscle cars. Fuel prices and emission regulations left them being far less exciting than they had once been. Compacts were winning over the hearts of many drivers, as they were cheaper to drive, but could still be fun. And that brings me to where I think Dodge really got the name for the Swinger. It didn’t have anything to do with a certain type of swapping that was going on during the era, although the adolescent side of me would like to think otherwise. If anything it had to do with Swing dancing. I’ve done my fair share of it, I’m from Wyoming after all, and I have a feeling that could be where Dodge got the name. Swing dancing is fast and it’s fun. It isn’t the most nimble dance, nor is it the most skillful, but it is always a good time. And that describes the Swinger perfectly, it isn’t the fastest nor the nimblest, but it is always fun. What do you think?

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Comments

  1. Joe

    Living through the late 60s and 70s, a “Swinger” was a general term for a fashionable, ultimate cool, laid back guy or girl, “swinging with the times”. It only had a “free love” connotation in some smaller circles. So, it was an appropriate name for a car for “the new hip generation” in a broader Madison Avenue type of way. If you look back at the Dart advertisements during the 70s, they segmented the market quite well into “families/economy” versus youth/hipsters/swingers/surfers/etc/performance, bright colors, cool cars”. Given the high sales volume of Darts in the 70s, they represented good value, good looks and quite a bargain. I’m surprised this example only included 4 photos on ebay and none of the engine. The seller says it has a swapped 383, not 318. Could be a nice car for the money, but needs more photos and an on-site inspection for rust. I have a ’73 Dodge Dart Demon (Sport) with a built 318, dual exhausts etc. which is a good handling, compact muscle car of the era (Mr. Norm, etc.) Great, sometimes forgotten Mopar car, direct competitor of the Chevy Nova, going up in value, get a nice one while you can!!

  2. garm

    eBay ad says it has a 383, not a 318?

    • Josh Mortensen Josh Staff

      Thanks for catching that! I went ahead and fixed the post to reflect that it has a 383!

  3. Alan (Michigan)

    Make mine a 340, please.

    Much better expenditure of cash than those Alfas….. I know, “different market”.

  4. J.W.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but it’s been quite a long time ago , in the 70’s a buddy of mine had a 73 Dart Swinger it was white with a black vinyl top / interior plus it had a black stripe around trunk area with a Swinger decal on each end of the stripe on the quarter panels which I thought was part of the Swinger trim package but on this cars description it states it has a standard trim package and I don’t see one on this car. Also I thought the swingers only came in a V8 / 318 not a slant 6.

  5. skloon

    Could have included an engine photo, I doubt it has a 383 as they take a bit of work to fit

    • Ed P

      The exhaust manifold on 318’s curve down and leave the spark plugs visible from the top. The exhaust manifold on 383’s curve upward and the spark plugs are not visible from the top. I say this is a 318.

  6. Mike Layton

    Your first description of it being a 318 is correct . The 383 was a big block engine and the distributor would be in the front and not the back as reflected in the ebay pictures .

  7. William Henshaw

    I’m with Alan, I want a 340 4spd in a Dart Demon. This car does nothing for me.

  8. Don Andreina

    In 1971, you could get this body in Australia with a different face – model name Valiant VG Hardtop. I had one, with the oz 245 ci 6. It was a beater and I loved it. Used to do the coast road from Sydney to Melbourne and back for Xmas and Easter when I was working in Sydney. Great days.

  9. Mark

    More pictures posted, the 383 is a 318, make mine a 340 demon too, yawn

  10. Eli

    1970-1973 models of the Dodge Dart makes this (as well as the Plymouth Duster and Chevy Nova) one of the best most reliable cars historically ever made! Forget about handling, I’m talking about always starting and never breaking down. Why can’t they make cars like this anymore??? Well maybe they have….but a lot more money…Lexus LS430?

  11. Ian Chorne

    Always liked the dart, the swinger isn’t exactly my favorite though…

  12. Neal

    I grew up with a ’73 Swinger in Philly. It was my parents’ first new car, bought with pride when I was turning three and my brother was on the way or just arrived. Red with white interior and white vinyl top. I helped my dad swap snow tires with the bumper ratchet jack. Learned to wrench doing brakes, starter, oil changes, who knows what else. Pulled our pop up trailer until we got a new Scout in ’78.

    My mom was so proud to keep that car shiny and clean; unfortunately she used Comet cleanser on the vinyl top which helped lead it to its demise. Dad used it as his commuter until they traded it in for a red Sentra hatchback with a five speed in ’83. Seemed like it was an OLD car by then. (By contrast, my ten year old Odyssey doesn’t seem nearly so old now. Maybe that’s just because I AM!).

    It was a reliable runner but later developed the damp-weather blues, meaning that I remember it stalling out sometimes when wet and Dad needing to shift into neutral to give extra gas at stoplights. Maybe it just needed a good tuneup, but otherwise I remember it running strong. And then there must have been a windshield seal or heater hose leak which left puddles on the passenger side floor. I remember cold, frozen ponds up there in its final winter.

    I can still remember the smell of the trunk area with the cargo mat and spare, which wasn’t damp or funky; it just had that old car smell you don’t find anymore except at old car shows.

    I still have a soft spot for them, although I think I prefer the older models if I were to get one someday.

    Another Dart story: my parents had an older (’65?) Dart before the red one. Mom learned how to take off the air cleaner cover and filter to air-out and fix a flooded carb. She could speed it up by using an old cloth diaper to soak up gas in the chamber. She got a kick out of helping another stranded motorist fix theirs with a similar problem in the Sears parking lot with her “Magic Diaper!” The young man’s jaw dropped when this young lady with an infant got his car running again!

    With this one for sale, I wonder if any changes have been made to the front suspension to account for the extra weight of the V8? From what I have read here and elsewhere, that is an important and perhaps complicated detail to attend to with the torsion bar suspension.

    If the picture loads, this is a photo of me and my younger brother shoveling out in the blizzard of ’78 or possibly just an earlier winter storm in front of our row house.

  13. James Turner

    In the 1980,s I had bought a 1975 Dodge Swinger that had a white vinyl top and a metallic blue body with the 318 engine, Automatic tranny. It had decent power although no rocket ship. I liked the full instrumentation and wood grain accents on the dash also. Those Swingers should have had an optional 340 C I engine with a 4 speed tranny and factory tachometer for a super special model. Still, it was a nice sporty looking car.

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