Extreme Muscle! 1969 Dodge Dart 440

It’s safe to say no one accidentally ordered their normally-thrifty 1969 Dodge Dart with the M Code 440 simply because they said to the sales person “Oh, and I want the big engine, too.” No; folks ordering up these bad boys had one thing in mind, “Low ET.” If putting a large motor in a mid-size defines a muscle car then what do call the largest motor in your fleet factory-installed in a compact, as the Dart was designated? That’s an extreme muscle car! Despite its shiny appearance, this River Falls, Wisconsin 1969 Dodge Dart GTS is more Survivor than Restoration, and it could be yours for the Buy it Now price of $59,000 here on eBay.

Exhausting documentation accompanies this car, with paperwork and time slips dating back to its sale. Despite living its life in snow country, few of its 39,209 miles came in the winter. A paint job refreshed the original B5 blue some time ago, and much of the drive train has been recently gone through.

All 440 Darts featured the bulletproof 727 Torqueflite three-speed automatic transmission, and none had power or disc brakes or power steering, due to the engine compartment being completely filled with, well, the engine (thanks to hemmings.com for some details).

This is where the magic happens. The 375 HP Magnum 440 also made a tectonic 480 lb-ft of torque, against which street tires of the day stood no chance. If the stock 3.55 rear axle ratio was too conservative, buyers could order the optional 3.91 gear set, in case you want to fry the tires while traveling at highway speeds. Only 640 of these potent machines left the factory, and Dodge only offered this 440 Shoehorn Special in ’68 and ’69. With this Dart in clean but not immaculate condition, let’s hope its new owner plans to uncork the 440 with some drag runs. What’s your vision for this single-purpose pavement shredder?

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Comments

  1. txchief

    Those small front drums were not enough brake for that car! They weren’t enough brake for any A body for that matter.

    Like 1
    • Jeffro

      I strongly agree with you, but honestly, I don’t think engineers put enough thought in the “stopping” aspect. More worried about getting there, then what to do once you arrived.

      Like 1
    • Ken

      I remember when this were released, in ‘68, a local dealer had been asking if he could order a few of these for his customers, Chrysler told that it was impossible to fit that big motor in the Dart, so he set one of his mechanics to work, next thing you know, Mr. Norm’s Grand Spaulding Dodge is sell something called the Mr. Norms GSS 440 Dart, and he built them to show Detroit engineers it could be done.

      • Ted

        I thought these were only built in small numbers with a 383 from factory. With a factory heavier sub frame. I was told 440 was to wide. I know of a 4 Dr sleeper car in Guelph Ontario Canada that was stuffed together to 440 with headers outside frame rails.

        Like 1
      • Roger

        I had a magazine article back in the day in which a fellow took a ’68 Dart GTS that originally came with the 383 and swapped a 440 into it so certainly it can be done,I had a similar ’68 GT at the time except with the 273 small block-love those cars!

  2. John

    80’s police wheels are non-stock…. cool car though, would love to have it!

  3. RichieRich

    I can’t imagine trying to turn that at any speed. Perhaps the lack of power steering was to discourage anyone from actually making a turn?

    • Steve

      Having owned several older vehicles without power steering, I can say that no matter how large the engine weight, once you get going, all of them turned fairly easy. (My six cylinder 70 Nova and 71 GMC swb stepside weren’t too bad to maneuver even in parking lots , due to the large diameter steering wheel.) It’s when you’re at a dead stop that you really get a work out. I have a 79 Malibu that I swapped the power steering in favor of a manual S10 box when it had a fiberglass hood, 383 SBC with aluminum heads water pump and intake. When it went south I dropped a 468 BBC into the car. Even with aluminum heads, it was a beast to maneuver at slow speeds. I swapped the power steering system back pretty quickly. The engine came out of a 73 pickup originally and the PS pump pulley just barely clears! Next up is a brake upgrade. The car was running mid 13’s in the quarter with the 383 and the stock 10-1/2″ discs barely cut it!

      • Steve

        This made me think of the two 82/83 Ford Escorts I put together to make one back in the 90’s. One had a good body but bad engine, the other vice versa. The car with the good body had power steering (!). I swapped the manual rack off the rusty car and couldn’t tell much difference. (It also originally had an auto trans.) The other car had a four speed, which I planned to use, but I made a trip to the wrecking yard for something else and ending up bringing home a 5 speed transaxle out of a car that already had the engine pulled (an EXP, IIRC) for $100. I later went back and pulled the 15″ “Sport” wheels and had new tires installed and swapped them for the stock 13″‘s (!). I probably should have checked the sway bar diameter for a potential swap! It ended up being a decent running car, pretty peppy considering the light weight.

      • Solosolo KEN TILLY Member

        My ’51 Buick Super was much the same, easy when rolling, near impossible when parking was tight.

      • john chump

        Slow et for a 440

      • olddavidp

        You remind me of me. My DD Lincoln has the usual suspect problems – seat quit, blend door, tilt column wonky, hood struts, etc. U-Pull called to say they had a low miles ’97 just being put out. It was Christmas Eve, so a quick run for struts and a seat track wouldn’t take long, right? I ended up going back three days in a row. Not much usable left on that car now. I’ve even caught myself looking for a Lightning to get the supercharger. I guess your car isn’t done until you say it is.

  4. robb

    This is a really sweet ride for a Dart and not your typical 383.. this 440 is a bad ride!

    Without googling it .. I’m thinking it’s value is $44k

    • Houndawg

      44k would be a great price. Try around 81k sold at mecum last year. Not this one but a 69 440 GTS none the less.

    • john chump

      Iim thinking about $14k

      • russell s

        You’ll be thinking about $14K for a long, long time while someone has happily paid 3x that much for the car.

  5. Steve R

    No offense, but how can a car that has been repainted and does not have the original engine be considered a survivor in any sence of the word.

    Steve R

    • GP Member

      I agree, Everything’s been rebuilt, repainted, or recovered. How is that a survivor?

      • russell s

        It’s still one of only 640 made in the insane combination of a compact body size with a 440 engine. So it’s not a survivor, it’s a very rare car anyhow and wasn’t rebuilt from a rust-bucket basket case.

  6. Christopher Wenz

    It’s a mini Road Runner.

  7. Dusty50x

    One bad ass toy. If I remember right 500 of those went straight to drag strips from Dodge and they had roll bars no radios no air conditioning no power steering already in them and no back seat that might have been 67 but could have been 69. But I do remember running across one on the streets in the early seventies

    • Steve

      Dusty, dodge built factory Hemi powered Darts and Baracudas in 1968 as ready to go race cars

  8. Brad

    The M code GTS was only offered by Dodge in 1969. Mr. Norm’s Grand Spaulding Dodge in Chicago did it before the factory did and created the 1968 440 Dart GSS. The 440 was installed at the dealership.

  9. Loco Mikado

    Even though these are labeled as compact cars in the late 60’s they were almost as large as the ’62 full size Dodges. Just 5″ shorter in wheelbase and 6″ less in length and there was even room in the engine bay around the big 440 engine. Wish I had the money to afford it.

  10. robb

    Anyone from Chicagoland remember Golf View Dodge in the NW suburbs?

    Like 1
  11. mark

    I’d give my right #&$% for this car…….

  12. SRyan

    Never had a factory one. Made some with rusty 70s Darts, Demons. Chained to frame because mounts would not last. Scary fast and bent a few rustier ones in half. Love the 440.
    Good Times.

    • Loco Mikado

      Over the years the only motor mounts I have replaced on my vehicles have been Mopar’s, some two or three times. Never on Ford’s, Chevrolet’s, Rambler’s Toyota’s or GMC’s. Must be a design flaw there.

      • Fiete T.

        If you transplant a BB or RB in an A-body, use Schumacher motor mounts or the strap kit on a ’72- down K-member. Best option? ’73-’76 K-member with the barrel-style mounts and in-board sway bar.

      • russell s

        Chevy had a terrible problem with failing motor mounts through the 60’s at least. My 69 Chevy wagon with a 300hp 350 pulled the driver’s side mount apart, the engine raised up out of position and stretched the throttle wide open with 16-year-old me driving it in a gas station and a steamroller from road construction parked right in front of me. Luckily I had the presence of mind to jam on the brakes and shut off the key. Lots of these Chevies ended up with a throttle jammed wide open that way and you sure as heck couldn’t just reach down and pull the gas pedal back up. I think there were reported to be fatalities associated with this flaw. GM’s fix was a kit that installed a cable between the frame and (I think it was) one of the exhaust manifold bolts. I had it done to mine. Unfortunately I also had to pay to get my AC fixed when the motor mount broke it not only jammed the throttle WFO but also the engine raised up so high it tore a fitting off the condenser.

  13. Mark Soderberg

    Doesn’t have a heater in it either. I can see the reason for none of the other stuff. But the heater core is inside, not in the engine compartment. Just need the 2 hoses, in and out of the core. Why not?

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      It was all about saving weight. The heater core, fan and extra coolant, could add up to several pounds. When you’re talking about winning a drag race by .01 seconds, 10 pounds might make the difference.

  14. Troy s

    1000 cars were required to qualify in stock class drag racing according to the NHRA. About 340 ’69 cudas were also built with the heavy weight 440 mill. Hairy chested and way out of balance, these were never really meant for street driving. They also came new with puny rims and tires as the guys who designed these assumed the new owner would be using their own wheel/tire combo no matter what the factory offered. Craziest, most irresponsible super car to come out back then! With just slicks they could go into the 12’s.

  15. Rube Goldberg Member

    I agree, baddest car made ( of several) Biggest motor, smallest car. We never saw many of these Mr. Norm’s jobs, even though, they were made only 80 miles away. Heard of them, but never saw one. Oh sure, we all knew someone that stuffed grandpa’s 440 from his Chrysler into gramma’s Dart, but it wasn’t like this. These were cleanly done, and Mr. Norm knew what he was doing. I think I read somewhere, these were selling for around $4,500 dollars.( or $32,500 today) It was a great time to be a motorhead, if you ( or daddy) had money, that is. https://ccco.s3.amazonaws.com/social_photos/4/0/1/5/4015/4015_a04-1213ae_low_res.jpg

    • John D

      A dealer would have to be nuts to put a car like that on his lot. Just think of all the laws and regulations that would be broken and then the liability.

      • LAB3

        This was done in “The before times” prior to the attorneys and social workers being anointed to take control of our lives. People practiced an ancient concept called “Freedom” you may have heard or perhaps read about it. If someone chose to engage in a dangerous or otherwise foolish pastime THEY where the ones that took responsibility for the outcome, not the “Nice” people who only merely had to think about what might happen. There are a few that attempt to carry this tradition forward but are forced to live in secret. Being responsible for your own actions is, after all, anti American and prisons create jobs!

        Like 2
      • Rube Goldberg Member

        By today’s standards, you are right, but like LAB3 sez, ( in kind of a roundabout way) these cars weren’t for your average person. If you bought a car like this, chances are you knew full well what you were doing, and the car makers had one thing on their minds, sell cars, no matter what it took. And at $4,500 dollars new, it filtered out a lot of buyers. It wasn’t until these cars were a few years old, that novice drivers could afford them, and that’s when the trouble started. These were wrapped around oak trees at a horrific rate, and insurance companies no longer would insure them. They fell out of favor pretty fast after that. There was a muscle car on every corner with a For Sale sign on them. In the late ’70’s, this would have been a $500 car, really. I was there.

      • On and On On and On Member

        All so true. Those were iconic times, we were shocked by the first oil crisis of ’73. No longer 29.9 for regular. I was lucky and worked part time at a gas station in Chicago while I went to college. My buddies begged me to sell them gas. My boss tried to withhold for regular customers, but the lines and outages were incredible. Rube you are right about selling any then called “gas guzzler”. How were we to know how much a Road Runner convertible would cost now. And I still want one!

      • Miguel

        How do you explain the Dodge Viper, or even the new Dodge Demon? People drive right off the lot and crash them. That is not the dealers responsibility.

  16. Joe Haska

    I had this exact car, paid less than a $1,000 for it! Well almost exact, mine was a six, with 3-spd on the column, no radio, rubber mats, bench seat, owned by a little old lady, who ordered it with every option available, as long as it didn’t cost anything. Yeah maybe not the exact car, but close, 69 Dodge Dart.

  17. Mountainwoodie

    Since it’s not in any way original might as well drop a 4 speed into it and go all out…… Terrorize the milennials in their u s b equipped wheeled toasters!

  18. Dee

    My brother trades a 68 Charger for a new 69 440 Cuda. Like the dart few were made and finding one is rare. Like the Cuda, the 440s were only available with automatics, (I think),
    I had the opportunity to buy my brothers for 600.00 in 1974. Being a kid, what did I know!
    I still recall to this day how fast and heart pounding that car was. I believe the factory kept the gear ratio tame only to prevent spontaneous combustion of these cars. Wow, does that bring back memories

  19. fahrvergnugen

    Blue sledgehammer. Dee Lishus.

  20. Dick

    Buddy of mine has one with 3 pedals. Stock size tires & incapable of hooking up, but what a rush. Wondering if this example has the correct drivers side exhaust manifold?

  21. Neal

    Wow what a ride!

  22. PeterK

    I had a mid 60’s Valiant convertible that had a 360 V-8 and a 4 speed manual trans. Such a great sleeper!

  23. wes

    Ahh brakes are for quiters

  24. Steve

    my Grandfather was a county deputy in the 60’s and 70’s. Until late in his career, he had to pay for his own car, fuel , everything. He had a 68 Plymouth Fury II with the police interceptor engine, a 440 of course. I saw that car at age 11 at 155 certified mph. He was chasing and caught a 69 428 Ford Torino on a 2 lane road in central Ga. I was 11 and sitting in the front seat, a memory I’ll never forget. A few years later he let me keep his 72, which he said was faster, for a week. That car was scary fast and scary handling….I can’t imagine this Dart

  25. 1st Gear

    One of the ultimate sleepers of the time (only to the un-suspecting)

  26. Stu

    I was 18 and shopping for a muscle car. I convinced the seller to drive his bright yellow 1969 Dodge Dart, 440, 4-spd to my folks house to get my fathers approval. He apparently heard us coming down the street because as soon as we pulled up, my father walked out of the garage and yelled “Get that #$@&ing car out of here!”. Boy, was I ever disappointed and embarrassed. The 20-mile drive back to the sellers’ house was rather uncomfortable to say the least. (But yes…I paid the seller for the gas and a little extra for his time.)

  27. Wayne

    Hey Rube,
    I was also about 80 miles from Grand Spalding Dodge at the time.
    What town were you in?
    Sorry to miss the Mopar fun. I was driving a 1955 Chev. Convert. at the time.

  28. Jimbosidecar

    I never sw one when new, but I can remember the Car and Driver article they wrote about the car to this day. What a read…

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