Compact Comparo: Swinger vs Grabber

Swinger vs Grabber

When we stumbled across these two early ’70s compact muscle cars, one a Dodge and the other a Ford, we knew it was time to do another comparo. We will try to keep this comparison serious and classy, but that may be a challenge considering that the candidates have names like Swinger and Grabber! We know the ’70s was a crazy time and all, but how did either company expect us to take either cars seriously with names like that? Now this comparison will focus on what these cars would have been like when they were new, as these two particular cars are in vastly different conditions. Be sure to look at both listings for more detailed photos. The 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger can be found here on eBay and the 1972 Ford Maverick Grabber can be found here on eBay.

Grabber vs Swinger styling

Right off the bat, you’ll notice some significant differences between these two cars, besides condition. Style wise, these two can’t get further apart. The Dart based Swinger is much squarer and was to be reminiscent of the full size Mopars of the late ’60s. The Maverick Grabber on the other hand, was modeled after the Mustang Fastback. From a design standpoint, both have their positives and negatives. There really isn’t a clear winner in the style category, as it boils down so much to personal taste. It’s almost a tie for us, but we tend to lean more toward the fastback look of the Maverick.

Swinger vs Grabber - Performance

What would a muscle or pony car be without a V8 engine? Well these ones would just be plain old compacts without their V8s. If the Ford still had its 210 hp 302 cui V8 sitting under its hood, it would certainly grab our attention (sorry for the pun). Sadly it is long gone and will need to be replaced. While the Swinger was considered a compact, it is larger than the Grabber and had enough space to house a 340 cui V8. This one came with the 230 hp 318 and it looks great. Given the size and weight difference, we have to give the performance award to the Grabber, although the Swinger was no slouch at the drag strip.

Grabber vs Swinger interior

Compacts aren’t typically comfortable, but back in the ’70s they were a bit bigger than compacts today. Of these two, the Swinger definitely has the more comfortable and spacious interior, with plenty of room for 4. But who cares about luxury in their compact performance machine? Not us! We will take a Spartan and sporty interior in our compact please. If you plan on driving yours everyday though, you might prefer the comforts of the Swinger, which is understandable. Again this one is a toss-up for us.

Dart vs Maverick

Picking a winner here is tough, as we like both cars. Like always, it comes down to personal preference and what you plan on doing with it. We personally have to lean toward the Maverick Grabber, simply because we like the looks. Now if we were going to actually buy one of these cars, we would obviously pick the Dart, which is ready to drive and is in such amazing shape. So which one is the winner for you? Oh and a reminder that this is a family friendly site, so please try to keep things clean! Thanks

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Comments

  1. Brian

    Its sort of funny, the two examples are almost a like a case study of how well and how poorly an old car can survive through four decades. If these two cars could talk, what vastly different stories I am they would tell about were they’ve been and how they’ve been treated. I like both of them too. When I was a very small, car crazy child, these are the cars that my parent’s friends, neighbors, and family were driving.

  2. Lemble

    Well being a Ford guy I would like the Grabber. One biggest reason , my late brother had a red 73 . The first car i was ever over 100 mph in. His had more rust than this one. If I remember correctly . Now his buddies younger brother had a very nice Dart Swinger with a 318 . Later the swinger had a 340 in it and my brothers car more rust. The grabber had the snot beat out of it, treated bad never washed , but you just could not kill that thing. The swinger was treated like a Queen. Funny how things come back around .

  3. Mike D

    obviously the Swinger is the better car here, , but, even in their heyday it was a better car. one thing about the Grabber that sticks out like a sore thumb to me is the snows on the front of the car, usually something serious wrong with the alignment… but, if you are going to ” restore” it, one would put in a new suspension anyways.. my understanding is the 302 in the Grabber was a slug anyways, and back then they were smogged up, and the insurance companies were looking to nail anything ” performance”

  4. jim s

    i would take the swinger but with a slant six and a manual. the grabber would work to if it had a six and a manual. already had a nova from that time frame but it had a 4 cyl and a 3 on the tree. can i have one of each please.

  5. Joel H

    Having owned both, (77 Mercury comet, and a 74 dart) They are both cool cars. My 77 Comet was a 6 cyl auto car. I rebuilt the transmisson and installed a pretty fresh 302 in it in auto tech school. Was a fun car. The 74 dart was a 318 auto 4 door. I installed a 360 in it and it was really fast. Both cars are long gone. Wish I still had the Comet.

  6. youbugme

    I’m more a Ford guy, but like the swinger better, although a duster would probably be a better comparison style wise.

  7. rodney lambert

    Is the 70 dart swinger for sale?

  8. Jim-Bob

    Based on looks alone I would take the Maverick. I always thought the small bumper models had really good styling and the fact that it shares most of it’s chassis with the early Mustang means that building it would be fairly easy. As far as the Dart goes, the 1970+ Dart and Valiant would look so much better if they had retained the 67-69 rear styling. For that reason alone I wouldn’t own one. Why Chrysler decided on an uglification program for their basic compacts starting in 1970 I can’t say but it’s enough to turn me off from them. Now a Duster/Demon/Dart Sport is another animal all together and would make this a harder decision.

  9. CarGuy

    I had one of each. The Dart was one of those coveted 1967 2-door hardtops with a 273 V-8. Plenty of power for the car and the time (1970). It was red with a white interior, a real chick magnet for a single guy living in Nebraska. I traded it on a new 1971 Satellite Sebring Plus (383 V-8 and the only car I wish I still had). The 1971 Maverick (cream colored with a tan interior) came along after I was married. My wife was driving a spanking new 1974 Dodge Dart Sport (318 V-8) and I had just sold my 1974 Dodge Ramcharger (360 V-8) because we had a mild winter. Saw the Grabber on the back row at the Chevy dealer and bought it just right. Had a 6 cylinder engine, but with white wall tires and small hubcaps with beauty rings and the black and orange trim paint, it was a head-turner. It was also the last car that I owned that I could work on in the drivewaay. Great car to drive to work or let the Irish Setter in the back seat and head out to the country. Both really great cars at different stages of life. Loved them both.

  10. Dirty Dingus McGee

    Preference is the Dart, but not at the BIN price. $16,500? Wow. If it was a 340/4 speed it would make more sense at that price.

  11. Scott Allison

    I see the Maverick, and the only thing I can think of: Rebadged Pinto.
    The Dart is much better looking, and riding too.

    • Jim-Bob

      The Maverick is a far different car than a Pinto. It’s more like an early Mustang or Falcon underneath and did in fact replace the Falcon in Ford’s lineup (the half year 1970 Torino based Falcon notwithstanding). The Mustang II however, does share most of the Pinto’s chassis.

      • Bob

        The Maverick and the Pinto were built on the same line in St. Thomas Ontario. In my youth I used to weld rear quarters on the ‘KD merry-go-round’ for them. This was long before today’s flexible manufacturing lines. They differed very little apart from the cosmetics and excepting that the Pinto was badged a Ford and the Maverick a Mercury (at least here in Canada, although I think both were Ford’s in the US). There are probably hulks still in the pond behind the plant where ‘lemons’ were pushed when they couldn’t be fixed quickly enough at the end of the line!!
        Sadly, I believe that plant closed in 2011. It last produced Crown Vics and Grand Marquis’ and some Lincoln town cars.

  12. Dave Wright

    The Dart was a much better car but also more expensive. Darts had far superior engines, whether you were looking for power or economey, torsion bars, roller wheel bearings, larger brakes, superior transmissions, Fords have nearly always been sold on the cheep. It was one of Henry’s founding principles, it was why they ran him off after founding Cadillac.

  13. That Guy

    Wow, times have changed. 25 years ago I briefly had a Valiant coupe, about the same vintage as this Dart and with the same drivetrain. It wasn’t nearly this clean but it was still in pretty good shape overall and ran great. I paid $300 for it, put new Eagle GT tires on it, drove it for a year, and sold it for something like $750. I don’t think I could have ever foreseen a day when a super-clean Dart Swinger would have a $16,500 price tag. Even now this still seems awful high for this car, but maybe I’m still stuck in the 80’s.

    It really was a remarkably good car, all things considered. It was plenty quick with the 318 automatic, and with the Eagles it actually cornered and handled decently too.

    I don’t have any personal experience with Mavericks, but I was mighty impressed with the Valiant. At the time, I had had my fun with it and it was time for it to move on, but I wouldn’t mind having that car back today.

  14. MikeW

    How can you compare a restored car to a project? As for looks, I never cared much for the Maverick, it looks to much like a Camaro. the Dart has better lines, but I prefer the Ford engines.

  15. Chebby Staff

    Take a closer look at that Dart….there are a lot of personal touches that suggest the original owner was an interesting character of the “build-it-better-myself” mentality so prevalent in grandfathers of earlier generations. The underhood stickers indicating firing order, the doorbell buttons affixed to the steering wheel (presumably for the horn), and the extra 18 gallon fuel tank (!) so well hidden I had to go back and look for it. He maintained this car perfectly for 44 years. Once upon a time, things were valued.

    • DT

      Dodges were always like that ,Chevys and Fords,you went to the showroom and picked out what you wanted
      but Dodge was always more friendly with you ordering your car the way you wanted it

      • Chebby Staff

        What I mean is, it looks like he added all those things himself as a shade tree mechanic. The yellow stickers are from a hardware store, and those are literally two doorbell buttons screwed into the steering wheel. I’ve never seen a right-hand mirror installed in that position on the fender, and the extra fuel tank would have to be a very rare option if it was factory, I’ve never heard of it on any other Mopars. The filler cap in the center of the rear window is inconvenient to say the least, and the crossbeam in the trunk holding it in also looks like it’s from a hardware store. But all done nicely, not like on “There I fixed it”. Homebrew engineering at its best, like my grandpa used to do, once upon a time.

  16. don

    My first car was a 73 Grabber…white with brown stripes. It was a beast. The thing was a tank. Someone before me converted it from an automatic into a three speed manual. I wish I had never sold it. When I got it in 85, it didn’t have a spot of rust on it. I loved that car.

  17. Geoffery

    The dodge is better, it has the looks, the engine, and is in better shape. I have had fords and mopars, but I have always liked the mopars slightly better. The straight sixes and 318 were indestructible, the fords were close when it came to reliability, but having had both cars. The old ford interiors tend to fall apart, as they are more complex, the mopars were often more simplistic and were made of cloth and thick vinyl thus they hold up better. The maverick was not a bad car, not by far. Rather it was stigmatized as a cheaper version of the mustang, but it could not hold the compact market of the pinto. Young people were not willing to spend the extra dough on a plain maverick, rather they would buy the pinto and load it up with ford performance parts. The adult crowd were drawn to the bigger 1970’s mustang, thus they had no need for the maverick, despite the grabber option that ford thought would draw the youth market to spend more on the larger car, it didn’t fly well. Sadly the maverick will always be overshadowed by it’s bigger and smaller brothers. The dart sold well, due to Chrysler’s ability to separate it’s cars well over the market. Making only one car for the market for both Plymouth and Dodge, thus the dart & scamp sold relativity well to the youngsters looking for ma mopar’s love.

  18. mtshootist1

    My wife got given a 72 Dodge Swinger, by her dad, I think that was the year, it had drum brakes on the front, and the 318 engine, the front end was always out of alignment, the wheels sagged inward, the front brakes were always screwing up, after we were married for a while, I traded it for a 240 Z, I don’t think my wife was very happy about it, but I was glad to get rid of that piece of Dodge junk. The engine was good, and had plenty of power, but we were living up in the Black Hills of South Dakota at the time, and it was like a hog on ice. Seemed like I was always working on that darn car. You couldn’t pay me 16000 bucks to own one again. I have no fond thoughts of that car. Now the 240Z that is a whole ‘nother story.

  19. faith

    As any person can see these are both very beautiful cars, no matter what shape there in. So this could be a hard question., but personally I will take the Grabber. I’ve owned two mavericks in the past and it’s the only car that I will drive. One was a ’73 grabber and the other was a ’74. I will gladly take this grabber and restore her to her natural beauty..

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