ORIGINALLY PURCHASED AS A DRIVER, TIM WINNIE’S ’69 DODGE DART SWINGER 340 TURNED INTO A FULL RESTORATION AND WAS REUNITED WITH ITS ORIGINAL ENGINE.
Originally purchased as a driver, Tim Winnie’s ’69 Dodge Dart Swinger 340 turned into a full restoration and was reunited with its original engine.
Afew weeks after 9/11, Tim Winnie and his buddy Gary Klotz took a trip out to the Canfield Swap Meet in Canfield, Ohio, trying to locate a decent ’69 Dodge Dart to have some fun with. Having owned one when he was in high school, he was on the hunt to locate another. Shortly after getting to the auction, he spotted a Dart on the back of a trailer as it pulled in. He was dead set on a ’69 but as he approached it, he noticed that this car had the round marker lights found on a ’68 model. He struck up a conversation with the guy selling the car and quickly found out that it was actually a ’69 with a ’68 front clip hung on it as a result of a previous accident, and modified rear quarters to accept the round ’68 rear lights. The owner claimed that it still had the
numbers-matching 340 small-block, fourspeed gearbox, interior, and most of the original yellow paint, except for the front end. As the conversation progressed, Tim asked him what he was looking to get for the car. “Ah man, the end is coming. With this stuff with the terrorists, I’m getting rid of everything. I’m asking four grand for it,” he said. Tim told him not to bother pulling it into the car corral, he’d buy it for the asking price right there. While Tim was chatting up the owner, Gary was looking the car over, and his initial assessment was that it was a really decent A-body. The trunk and quarters had some issues, but overall it was very solid. Tim was even able to drive it back to Pennsylvania from Ohio.
After a week at his house, it was taken to Gary’s shop to be mechanically sorted. Tim had the 340 yanked
so that it could be resealed and new freeze plugs installed. When they checked the stampings on the engine, they realized that it wasn’t numbers matching, with the block having a 1970 date code. Since the engine bay was empty at that point, as planned, Gary went in and completely redid the engine bay in the correct Y2 Yellow color. After the 340 was dropped back in, the plan was to move forward with Gary tackling all the body and paintwork. At the time he was renting a shop, but that quickly changed when he was offered a position as an auto body instructor at the Wyotech Blairsville, Pennsylvania, campus. As a result of that career change, he closed up his shop and moved closer to his new job. Now working from a large two-car detached garage at home, the Dart would continue its rebirth there with Tim spending the bulk of his Saturdays helping out. The path to recovery for the Dart was set in slow motion, as Gary used it as a learning tool for his students. With every step, he’d stop and photograph what he
was doing, which became the foundation for his classroom presentations.
With the Dart parked indefinitely, it was torn down to a bare shell and the paint chemically stripped. With the sheetmetal exposed, they determined what metalwork was needed. Gary ended up fabricating some patch panels for the trunk and wheelhouses, while a set of repro quarter-panels were used to repair the lower rear quarters. As the work progressed, the idea of finding a correct dated-coded block gained traction, so Tim called his old friend and long-time Mopar Muscle Editor Greg Rager to ask for advice on locating a ’69 block. Greg gave him the number to a guy out in Arizona who might be able to help him out. When Tim called him, the guy asked for the build date on the car, and he’d call him back in a few days with an answer. When he rang Tim back, he told him that he had three blocks that would work, and the cost would be $300 plus shipping. “Why don’t you give me your VIN number, and I will pick the one that is closest to it,” he said. Tim read the VIN
What was initially destined as just a car to have some fun with, ended up serving a greater purpose by helping to educate the next generation in the art of bodywork É
number to him, and at the other end the guy started laughing and said, “The price just doubled!” Not sure as to what was going on, Tim had unknowingly hit the engine lottery. The guy informed him that he had the original block to his Dart. He said, “I’m almost tempted to give you this for free because I love remarrying cars to their original blocks.” In the end, Tim paid him the $300 for the block. After getting it back, he acquired another set of heads and slowly reassembled the 340 back to the correct factory specs.
Another challenge was finding a decent set of ’69 fenders. Many trips to swap meets proved fruitless until a set popped up that came off of a car that was being run down the quarter-mile. Tim couldn’t get the money out of his pocket fast enough.
The wheels also proved to be a challenge. The Dart came with Weld wheels at all four corners, but he wanted a factory look, which meant stamped steel rims with hubcaps. Numerous trips to the local yards only yielded the smaller 14x4.5 stamped steel units. A phone call
to Wheel Vintiques for a set of 14x6 rims yielded an interesting proposition. They’d trade a brand-new set of their wider wheels for a dozen of the smaller ones that Tim had found in the local salvage yards, with the deal taking place at the Carlisle Chrysler show.
The restoration on the Dart ended up spanning roughly four years, with a goal to have it ready for the 2006 Carlisle Chrysler Nationals. The freshly painted body was ready to receive all its parts back only a few months prior to the show, at which point they both ramped up the reassembly process. Since the car was fairly complete when purchased, items like the interior went back on without needing much work. Tim replaced the seat covers and carpet with reproduction pieces from Legendary Auto interiors. The only Dartspecific factory items that he had to track down were the AM radio, shifter knob, and steering wheel.
They managed to get everything wrapped up just in time to make the show. Since then, Tim has logged numerous miles on the Dart. What was initially destined as just a car to have some fun with, ended up serving a greater purpose by helping to educate the next generation in the art of bodywork — as well as being reunited with its original drivetrain, which always makes for a great story and is satisfying to hear on these older cars. Ultimately, Tim admits none of this would’ve been possible without the blessing of his wife, Eileen, and her support — which can sometimes be the hardest battle to overcome.
Tim hit a home run when he went looking for a correct date-coded block. By sheer luck, he found the Dart’s original block. They have since been reunited.
The wrap-around stripe on the Dart was replaced soon after the body was repainted. When the original one was removed, the paint beneath it was scanned in order to color-match it.
Most of the Dart-specific pieces on Tim’s Dart came with the car. Underneath the correct factory air cleaner lies a date-coded AVS carburetor.
When Tim took delivery of the Dart, the steering wheel that came mounted on the car was an aftermarket piece with an ’80s flavor to it. He had an original one laying around that was installed once the interior was refinished.
While the shifter was in place when Tim purchased the Dart, he had to find a replacement knob. It was one of the few items for the interior that he had to track down.