Home Car Stories 20 Years + 1972 DODGE Dart Swinger- Edna
1972 DODGE Dart Swinger- Edna PDF Print E-mail
Written by Double Dragon
Saturday, 26 February 2011 09:18

1972 DODGE Dart Swinger- Edna

oneownercollectorcar.com

Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown


72-swinger-edna-script

Edna's Dart gives me a case of Deja Vu all the way back to my first ride in a blue on blue Dart when I was a teenager. A friend owned a low miles Dart Sport two door. The low weight allowed the 225 six cylinder to burn rubber and accelerate far faster than anyone would imagine possible. Countless times bystanders assumed that the car was running a 340 or at least a 318 until they got up close and heard the idle.

The insanity committed in that Dart can’t be told until the statute of limitations expires. Who knows what the speedometer error amounted to, but I’d wager that it was close to correct when indicating our top speed to be 110 mph. My friend actually got his Dart up on two wheels on an off ramp amongst other daring feats. There are legends circulating to this day about crazy maneuvers he pulled in that car. The madness levels escalated until he finally totaled the Dart. He moved onto motorcycles after that . His acquisition of the worlds' fastest production motorcycle is responsible for my policy of not riding motorcycles anymore. He walks slowly with a cane now.

72-swinger-edna-three-quarter


Sitting behind the wheel of Edna’s 1972 Dodge Dart Swinger brings back memories. The bench seat interior is the same color as that long ago totaled Dart, with everything familiarly in the same place. The impression of air and noise leaks from the wide margins of error in assembly creates a sense of looseness about these cars despite decent shock damping and tight steering boxes.

72-swinger-edna--rear

 

Edna's Dart also has the step up optional slant six 225 which is a lively engine, but not quick enough to burn the tires or launch out like that famous old Dart. Like the old Dart, this one also reveals its fairly short wheelbase with some road thump. The torsion bars do little to disguise anything, but the firmness imparts a bit of settled reassurance to the ride. The Dart was categorized as a compact car back in the day but by today’s standards it's virtually a full size car, capable of seating six on the front and rear benches.

 

72-swinger-edna--side.

 

When the foreign wave of compacts flooded North America in the 1970s, the Chrysler boys bragged that the Dart was the biggest economy car available at the time. Back then, economy was also closely associated with purchase price. The Big Three had not quite grasped that Bigger is Better didn't apply to nimble park able cars with good MPG. The Dart was Dodge's version of the Plymouth Valiant, but there were some twists and turns involved in the path leading to the twinning.

 

72-swinger-edna-225-engine

 

The Big Three compacts trace back to 1958 when a recession accented the virtues of imports like the VW bug as well as boosting sales for the domestic built Rambler. The Big Three responded with their own versions, with Ford scoring the highest sales with their Falcon. The 1960 Valiant was introduced by Chrysler as a standalone nameplate. In 1961 the Valiant was rebadged as a Plymouth. In 1961 Dodge was given a clone of the Valiant named Lancer, but it was dropped due to low sales in 1962.

In 1963 the Dart name was dumped onto the new 1963 Valiant clone. The Dart name had been kicking around as a place holder for Dodge's low priced full sized cars since 1960. The 1963 Dart was the first Dart created in the format they have become famous for. Unlike the Lancer which had been a carbon copy of the Valiant, the Dart with a 111 inch wheelbase sat partway between the Valiant and the intermediates. The Dart was considered an upscale version of the Valiant, and started life with several ascending trim models, including the GT.

The Swinger name began at the end of the 1960s designating the two door hardtop. Only the 'swinging crowd' would want a compact car in the hardtop model. Back then, a distinction was drawn between the sedan and the hardtop, although the differences were negligible. A hardtop version of any car was considered "sporty" due to the absence of any structural pillars marring the lines.

Edna’s Swinger has an almost perfect interior. The seat fabrics are fresh, without dirt or fading. The only tear sits at chest level in the driver's seat. The pedals are clean with thick rubber that is free from scuffing and rounding on the corners. Doors close tight without rattles. Even though the notoriously annoying gaps typical of Chrysler glove boxes are present, the box stays shut and doesn’t have the rattles that plague most used Chryslers from this period. Typical of many cars profiled on this website, the most severe wear and tear occurs on the passenger side of things. The owner of the car seems to take better care of the driver's side of things than passengers do. The passenger arm rest was missing from the car although the driver's side armrest had survived intact despite seeing heavier usage.

Edna is the second owner. The first owner apparently special ordered (see codes further down for reasoning behind this assumption) at the start of the 1972 new car year. The Swinger was ordered with good options: the larger of the two slant six engines, automatic transmission, 10 inch heavy duty drum brakes with power booster, dual horns, day/night mirror, trunk light and radio. The first owner drove the Swinger until trading it into Wolfe Chev Olds in 1976 for a Chevrolet Nova. Edna visited the lot and snapped up the used Swinger.

Below is a close-up on the Wolfe sticker on the driver's side of the trunk lid. It appears that the original dealers' metal nameplate was removed and the Wolfe sticker placed over the rivet holes. Wolfe is a Chev Olds Vancouver, BC dealer which was on Boundary road when the Swinger was traded in. See a story about Wolfe in DEALERSHIPS on this website.

 

72 swinger dealer wolfe chev olds sticker

 

The first owner only needed a few weeks to regret his move. This was during the dark ages of the gas crisis and emissions standards. Nothing was sorted out very well: bumpers and emission controls were simply add-ons to new cars, instead of integral parts of the design. Many 1976 new car buyers lamented trading in their good running old pre catalytic convertor cars. They were saddled with heavy new cars producing inefficient MPG and abysmal starting and running qualities.

Two weeks after trading in the Swinger, the first owner returned the Nova and demanded that the salesman round up ‘his’ Swinger. The salesman called the house trying to entice Edna with a deal if she would turn in the Swinger, but it was her car and she was keeping it. End of phone call. The car was used for general errands and caused no trouble. The only major work done on the car was accomplished soon after taking possession of the car. Edna had a new 1976 model transmission installed soon after her purchase in 1976. Like many long term owners (see the ONE OWNER 1984 Trans Am) Edna had an aftermarket remote release cable lock for the hood installed.

 The body still has shiny paint, but there are dents and creases in the sheet metal as well as other wages of time and weather showing. The car resides in North Burnaby, BC which suffers perpetual rain and has salt on the roads for the occasional snow. Rust is showing itself along the edges of body panels for the length of the car. Edna is now in her 80s and doesn't drive much, as evidenced by the mileage of 87,000 miles in 2009 on the service sticker.

 

72-swinger-edna--door-stickers.

The VIN tells us a bit about the car,

The 11-71 refers to the manufacturing date of November, 1971.

LH23C2R1XXXXX (significant VIN digits removed from photo)
 
L = Dodge Dart / Demon
H = High Price Code (Swinger)
23 = 2 Door Hardtop
C = 225 110HP (net) 1-1BBL 6 CYL
2 = 1972
R = Assembly plant in Windsor, ONT, CAN.
1XXXXX = Vehicle sequence number not shown here to protect VIN code.

The fender tag below is also minus the significant VIN digits.

72-swinger-edna-tag

V5X END
TB3 C G33 M21 R11
TB3 F3B5 GB5 B08 C39370
E24 D34 LH23 C2R 1XXXXX    

The fender tag is read from left to right starting at the bottom and working upwards.

E24 indicates a 225 cid 1 barrel 6 Cylinder 145 hp (measured in gross hp)
D34 indicates a Torqueflite Automatic Transmission. (This was replaced in 1976)
LH23 indicates the Dodge Dart or Demon, High Price level 2 Door Hardtop
C2R indicates a 225 110HP (net) 6 cylinder engine with 1-1BBL, 1972, Windsor, ONT, CANADA
1XXXXX is the factory sequence number. The significant digits are removed for Edna's privacy.

TB3 indicates paint color. T is the first year the color was offered, B is the color Blue and the number is the hue.
F3B5 indicates the Trim - Luxury, Cloth/Vinyl Bench Seat, B is blue, 5 is medium hue.
GB5 indicates the paint on the top of the interior door frame. G is 1972 for the first year this paint color was offered, B is Blue and 5 is medium hue.
B08 is the Scheduled Build Date: B is November and 08 is the day= November 8, 1971.
C39370 is the Order number, and the fact that it is preceded by a letter (C) and not a number suggests that the car was a special order car. That means the first owner special ordered his Swinger rather than buying any old Swinger off the lot.

TB3 indicates upper body color. If there is a vinyl top this code describes its color. The code matches the code for the lower paint code of Blue and same #3 hue. It's possible that the current black vinyl top is a replacement.
C means Canada Specifications as opposed to the U seen in USA spec cars.
G33 indicates LH Remote Racing Mirror
M21 probably started a few hearts racing, but in this case the code is a mundane code for Roof drip rail moldings!
R11 indicates Music Master Radio Solid State AM (2 Watts)

V5X indicates Body Side Molding. X is black.
END signals the End of Sales Codes

Below is a picture of an old 1982 Province of British Columbia Inspection sticker. This was stuck on the bottom of the passenger side of the Swingers' windshield. The program was discontinued, but the stickers are hard to get off the glass and can be seen occasionally on older cars. To see another of these 1982 inspection stickers, see the story on the 1970 Challenger, also in the TWENTY YEARS PLUS section of this website.

72-swinger-edna-bc-inspectoin

Although the majority of work on the car was maintenance oriented there have been some mishaps. THe car was hit from behind and the rear valance received a generous application of bondo in the repair job. The right side of the bumper was not straightened and carries the indent to this day. Some rust is appearing at the bottom of the bumper where the dent happened. The rear trunk lid has been repainted. The rear quarters and trunk lid alignment no longer sit right with gaps varying. Despite the improperly repaired accident the inside of the trunk is completely rust free. Often quickie repair jobs result in rust out but this car has been spared this fate despite the climate it is parked outside in.

The rear brake drums showed wear and blueing from a dragging brake. An adjuster cable on one side didn't work causing one rear brake to adjust while the other one didn't. The out of synch brakes caused pulling and dragging shoes created massive heat build up that could be felt just by placing a hand near the outer hubcap. All brake shoes were seriously cracked and a complete brake job including new drums set things right again.

oocc-dragon-end

Last Updated ( Thursday, 15 August 2013 22:11 )