M-Code Big Block: 1969 Dodge Dart GTS 440

One aspect of the American car industry that I’ve always admired, particularly during the 1960s and early 1970s, is the sheer variety of engines that manufacturers chose to stuff under the hoods of various models. The 1969 Dodge Dart is a perfect example. It was available with a 170ci 6-cylinder engine, and this resulted in a car that was a more than an adequate daily driver. You then had a diverse range of engines to choose from, and if you were set on scaring yourself completely silly, you could buy a car like this GTS, with a 440ci V8 under the hood. If you feel in the mood for just such an experience, you will find this Dart GTS located in Cicero, New York, and listed for sale here on eBay.

This is a clean looking car, with the owner stating that it underwent a restoration around 14-years-ago, and since then, it has only covered about 800 miles. The body looks really good, with all of the sheet-metal original, except for the passenger side quarter, which has been replaced. The owner says that there are a few minor stone chips on the paint, but these don’t show in the photos. As you can see from this photo, the underside of the car looks quite clean, with only some surface corrosion in a few spots, mainly on suspension components, to be addressed.

You’ve got to love opening the hood to find a 440ci V8 sitting there, this one hooked to a 727 TorqueFlite transmission. The engine that is fitted to the car is not the original, but a ’67 engine that has undergone a pretty major rebuild. There is some good news though. The original block is sitting on a stand awaiting a rebuild. This has been checked by a machine shop, and it has been verified to be free of cracks and has minimal wear on the bores. There are a few items that will need to be addressed before the Dart is ready for the road again. The most significant of these is the replacement of the fuel lines, as there is a leak there. The tires are also past their best and will require replacement.

The interior presents very well, and this is to be expected given the fact that it was restored when the rest of the work was done and has hardly been driven since. The white upholstery looks really good, with the seat covers, headliner, and carpet all having been replaced. The car is fitted with an aftermarket tachometer and a temperature gauge under the dash, so if it’s total originality you seek, those would have to go. Apart from the fact that the radio doesn’t work (and those gauges), everything appears to be right in there.

With only 640 cars built, the Dart GTS is a relatively rare and collectible car. Prices for these are strong, and prices of $40,000 plus are not rare for these, while a fully restored example sold at auction in 2017 for $81,000. This seems to be quite a good one, and the value of it will certainly increase once that numbers-matching engine takes its rightful place under the hood. At the time of writing, bidding has reached $28,100, but it isn’t surprising that the reserve has not been met. I suspect that there may be a way to go before this happens.

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Comments

  1. Howard A

    One of Mr. Norms?

    4
    • Howard Ford Jr.

      Yes, all big block GTS Darts were sold by Mr. Norm :)

      2
      • Ray Baker

        Not true. I bought my 1969 GTS Dart from a dealership in Roswell n.m.

      • Rich

        Nope. I remember a new one in triple black at Chorches Dodge in Manchester, CT. $4900. That was astronomical for a Dodge Dart in 1969!

    • Ray Baker

      I’m still waiting for someone to dig up a ’68 GTS with the 440/4speed/Dana 60 combo. Mr.Norm AND Doc Watson swear these cars existed.

      • Terry Bowman

        If was such a thing, I believe it would only be in 69′, but the exhaust must of been restricted with the 4-speed gear. 68′ had the 383 and hemi with automatic only due to the exhaust. Possible in a all out race version(with body cut outs for headers), but not from the factory to anyone simple. Example: NASCAR had the Hemi with the single 4 barrel and not the duel as in everyday sales that could not be had with a single one.

      • Ray Baker

        383 was available ’67 (late) until ’69. Only difference berween 383 and the 440 was width and a little bit of height. 383 manifolds worked on the 440 Darts. The article stated that Mr. Norm worked with Jardine headers and got chassis headers for his big blocks.
        I too questioned the statement of ’68, 440/4 speed Darts but the author of the story questioned Norm and Doc Watson a couple of times and both stood by the claim of these ’68 Darts existance.

  2. motoring mo

    Previously listed elsewhere for $49k

    3
  3. Dave Suton

    Almost too much engine for that car. I’m a big fan of 67-69 Darts. I would much rather have the 340 6 pack transplanted in there. This would be a great car for straight line duals. But when you would turn (and I’m guessing that there wasn’t room for power steering) it would be a beast.

    13
    • Sidney

      Agreed, this is an unexpected funeral waiting to happen. The only thing more unpredictable around a corner would be an old 1970s 930 Turbo. I would only drive this quietly around town or at a drag strip, that’s it. Of course, this is in the realm of the uber rich to invest in (until the market collapses, but that is another story) so it is not like it is going to get driven anyway.

      3
  4. Gaspumpchas

    up to 30 large. What a tire fryer. Wonder what it will sell for Motoring Mo said it was for sale for 49 k. Might be better off running thru the sham auctions. If you can believe what you see on TV. I watched Me cum auctions and 3/4 of the cars didn’t sell and most of the ones that did the guys took a bath on. I’m sure there are sham bidders in the audience and possibly the owners bidding their cars up. Don’t believe what you see on tv. This is a beautiful dart. Pure artistry the way they shoehorned that 440 in there!!

    Cheers

    GPC

    9
  5. Beaver Member

    i WOULD love to have this in my stable But iam about $1 short ha! HA!

    3
  6. Terry Bowman

    I agree the 340 is the way to go for fun and reliability. It should have a close ratio gear box for the steering, but it’s still not as good as power. I’m not a fan of any big block motors, unless you are only going a quarter mile and even then, you will have to do several modifications for it’s full potential. The “BIG” money is in the big boys.

    4
  7. Sunshine

    I knew no AC on the biggest engines by Chrysler; but, no power steering no power brakes, and no disc brakes? Wow! https://www.hemmings.com/magazine/hmn/2012/01/1969-Dodge-Dart-GTS-M-Code/3707511.html

    2
  8. Del

    Strange that no fender tag or build sheet mentioned.

    3
  9. Woody

    Of course the 340 would be a nice driver, but the awesome thump of the Big Block Mopar is what is so cool in these Darts and Barracudas! This one with white interior is a classic,gotta pay-up for these rare cars! In the early ‘80s I had an M-code Barracuda that was alot of fun,wish I still had it!

    6
  10. RDM59

    Cruising around easy, waiting for your prey… what a sweet old sleeper.

    7
  11. R. P. Pettibone

    Again I ask…How is this a barn find? I doubt this car has ever saw a barn much less sat for 10-20 years in a barn environment.

    4
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      @R. P. Pettibone – Not every car featured on this site is a “barn find”. Some are survivors, some are oddballs, and some are just plain awesome. This GTS fits into the later category!

      20
  12. duke

    help me out with my accurate but sometimes failing Mopar memory—–the largest motor you could order from the factory into a dealer delivered dart was a 383 NOT a 440
    if that’s is correct, someone did a nice job fitting this in-

    1
    • Howard Ford Jr.

      Mr. Norm’s GTS Darts were available with both engines, 383 and 440.

      1
  13. Woody

    M-code=440 factory installed,low production.

    7
  14. Ray Guardiano

    I always dreamed that some day I would find and own a real M – code A – body Mopar. Marriage, family and career came along, so that dream withered away for me. In 1995, a article in a Mopar magazine talked about putting a big block in a A -body Mopar being not that difficult. I’ll just make one then ! I chose and found a rust free, original paint, non-running Slant 6, 1968 Plymouth Valiant 2-door post in Sacramento and hauled it back to Seattle to start it’s transformation. 23 years later, I’m still working but enjoying my 440 powered Valiant. It’s no show car, but I’ve carefully chosen the right parts on a budget and come up with a quick sleeper street car. Best e.t. thru the mufflers is 11.93. I got my big block A-body ! Thanks !

    22
  15. Terry Bowman

    Duke, the 440 can in the 69′ Dart,Factory. In 68′ the Dart had a 426 Hemi, hence “HEMI DART”, but if i’m not mistaken it was a Mr. Norm added feature. Also a sticker was added on the glove, “NOT FOR STREET”. They came with the VAN front seats and no rear seat. Mufflers were on for delivery only, then discarded.

    3
    • moosie Craig M Bryda Member

      Nope, Hemi Darts & Barracudas were put together by Hurst Performance in Michigan. Darts were coded LO23, Cudas might have been RO23 ? Google it (68 hemi dart) and you will see .

      4
    • scottymac

      Wasn’t Mr. Norm’s marketed as GTS-SS?

      2
      • giadeFLIGHTNING

        ScottyMac ☇
        The Original 440 DODGE DARTS offered by GRAND SPALDING (SPAULDING?) DODGE (Norman Krauss in ChicagO), of which approximately 40 were made (HALF as many as HEMI DARTS!) in 1968, were simply called GSS, rather than GS or GT designations of the Smaller Engines .

        5
  16. Roger

    Was looking at one of those from a private party way back in the early 70’s. I don’t remember much about it other then it screamed getting on it on the highway.

    3
  17. R.P. Pettibone

    I have only been signed up for a month or two. I guess I really needed a “definition” of what is the standard of a “Barn Find”. I live in a rural town and have seen a real barn find or two. The last one I commented on looked like it was in someone’s private collection, and they were asking 40K for it! The value of any car is in the eye of the title holder IMHO… In these present days, we tend to overuse a lot of adjectives to describe things. Like, Ultimate!, Awesome!, Epic!, or Incredible!, especially in headlines of short articles, and Weblogs. I feel we should just present the facts, and allow the reader to make any calls on substance. As car guys, we all love to see old classics brought back. It seems disingenuous to highlight cars that are unattainable pricewise, and in private collections, or pampered garage queens in a Barn Find Weblog.
    I shall consider my self now reformed…

    5
    • Mountainwoodie

      Think of us as a bunch of disparate car nuts who are not literal minded but love many varieties of old iron.

      “Barn Find” used by a dealer or seller has become, like so much of the English language, misused for other than descriptive purposes.’

      I.E. sellers think it connotes something that might bring them more money. The spirit of this web site is the spirit of old car ( (and sometimes not so old depending on your age, LOL) appreciation in it’s many iteration.

      So yes, sometimes an oddball that is not a barn find but may be of interest to the many on the web site comes up and in the website owner’s judgement should be written about.

      We all benefit from this…..me thinks.

      8
  18. robeffy

    I was told by an insurance agent that there was an unmarked cruiser on the 401 Hwy, in Ontario, way back in the 70 or 80’s. A few of his clients thought they could speed and get away with it, wrong..

    2
  19. giade Flightning

    yeahh nan, I’d take the Current Offer for mine prob’ly. its not as Perfect, yet a ’68, prob’ly even mOre BULLET PROOF radical, and has a HEMI 14SPLINE 4spd, all gO nO shOw *+*+*+*

    8
  20. Troy s

    Wow, I seen one for sale years ago at a classic car dealer and even then they were asking a lot, being in near perfect condition. Definite NHRA ties, Dodge/Plymouth made some of the hairiest rides back then of any brand. This one and the equivalent 440 ‘Cuda had to be the craziest of all, funny the BFG’s need replaced after a whopping 800 miles! Ahahaha!

    2
  21. Ray Guardiano

    Attached is a picture of my 1968 Valiant 2-door post with a very strong 1968 440. I had to mini-tub it with 15×12 custom Mopar police wheels & N50x15 Mickey Thompson tires because the BFG T/A’s would just fry.

    18
    • SumtingWong

      Ray, damn nice car. Remember doing about the same thing to a 68 in the early 80’s. Fun car, lots of motor for it. Fast on the freeway.

      2
  22. Ray Guardiano

    One more time. A picture of the 440 stuffed into my version of a one of none M-code 1968 Valiant. It is a true 1968 440 HP block with lots of go-fast goodies. I purposely put a 273 sticker on the air cleaner to mess with the local Chevy boys . . .all the time letting them know “it’s just an old clapped out Valiant with big tires, not to worry…..” Thank you all for the thumbs up !

    12
  23. Ray Guardiano

    Side view picture of my 1968 Valiant stuffed with a 1968 440 HP block with lots of go fast goodies, my crazy sleeper car, what fun ! ! – Thank you all !

    12
  24. Woody

    You got it Ray,this is what it’s all about! Early iron with loud horsepower!Thumbs up here.

    6
    • Ray Guardiano

      Thank you Woody ! My Valiant gets it’s fair share of looks and curiosity. The main questions I get asked are usually ” Why did you not do a big block Dart or Barracuda ? Why a not-so-cool Valiant ? Well, thats because: # 1) I wanted to drive something really different, # 2) I could !
      Just having fun in my old-clapped out Valiant, cruising …. and looking for prey ! Ray Guardiano

      3
  25. RDM59

    These were great cars, light and powerful. In the mid 70s, my older brother had a ’69 GTS, 340 4 barrel. Great ride on a trip and driven sensibly could actually approach 20 MPG. I did the math. But when he opened it up, even Corvettes ate sand (Florida). He would have loved this M-code, but I’m sure he would have hurt himself.

    4
    • SumtingWong

      I bought a new 68 RR when I got back to the world in June of 68. These were fast cars but the GTS with the 440 was a ass kicker.

      1
  26. Camaro Joe

    Nice car Ray. If you can hook it up it’s really fast. If you drive it in the rain, be really careful. Or just leave it in the garage.

    I ran a 440 in my 65 Belvedere from the mid 1980’s to mid 1990’s. It is a TorqueFlite car with 3.23 Sure Grip. It would spin the 245-65 radials on dry pavement at 50 MPH in second gear if I pulled out to pass a line of cars on a two lane. That was exciting so I learned to not give it full throttle until I was in the passing lane going straight.

    I drove the same road to work for a couple summers, so I knew where the radar trap was going to be. Passing 3 or 4 cars at full throttle was a 90 MPH charge. I never got caught, but it could be expensive or walking for a while.

    I restored the car for the second time in the early 2000’s and went back to an original 383. It has ported heads, a Mopar Performance 68 model aluminum high rise intake, modified original carburetor, and the M.P. purple stripe “Drag race only” cam, but it still doesn’t run much better than the mostly stock 440 did. I’m still glad I put it back to (mostly stock), and it’s a rotisserie restoration, so I drive it to shows and cruise around town. I’d probably be happier with the 440 though, other than changing plugs, that’s not fun.

    1
  27. Ray Baker

    A lot of folks are not aware that GSD had built 40 (+/-) 1968 Darts with a 440, 4 speed, dana rear. Wheel wells were NOT cut. I have yet to see one ANYWHERE, yet Mr. Norm and “Doc” Watson swear that they did exsist.

  28. Terry Bowman

    Just my two cents, Ray Baker. Others could of made the 440 or even the “Hemi” dart, but possible they may not of been a sanction Mopar. Case in point many Vans were sent to be converted into conversion vans, but were not listed as an option item.

    • Ray Baker

      I built a ’69 Dart with a 426 Hemi in a barn after I got home from the Marines in ’75.
      Mr. Norm and Doc Watson swear these 4 speed cars did exist BUT, why didn’t Landy and Mancini drive them? Both of these fellows drove automatics as attested by the SS/EA markings on the Darts in many photos.

      2
  29. Terry Bowman

    Ray, they wanted to win. Too many things can go wrong with a standard shift, including driver error. I always said there should be a standard transmission class.

  30. Ray Baker

    They both drove pro stock cars with 4 speeds. Back then, automatics were not as fast as 4 speeds.

  31. Terry Bowman

    True automatics had the slip, where the standards were 100 % lock, if everything else was right. Just don’t let a drop of oil get onto the fly wheel.

  32. giadeFLIGHTNING

    Interesting Conversation ~
    Any well done 440 Dart is pretty Cool. Mine is an “OUTLAW” ’68 GSS Replica in fact, BUILT in the Backwoods of RED Boiling SpringS, TN, & Not ‘Factory Sanctioned’ . .
    A GSS is a lot less ‘Civilized’ to me than a GTS, much more my Style for a mOpar 🏁☇☇🏁

    1
  33. Woody

    Thank you for your service Ray! Nice Mopar too!

    1

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