RE­UNITED

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.

Mopar Muscle - - Contents - BY JOHN MACHAQUEIRO PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY THE AU­THOR

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.

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