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(Tommy)>> You're watching Powernation!

(Tommy)>> Today on Detroit Muscle we hit a bullseye with a compact Mopar and rescue it from being a lawn ornament and turn it into a pavement pounder. [ Music ] [ engines revving ] [ Music ]

(Tommy)>> Today we're rescuing a rare piece of Detroit muscle. We're heading out to find an elusive compact muscle car targeted at guys who couldn't swing spending a lot of scratch but wanted premium Mopar performance. We set our sights on a 1972 Dodge Dart Swinger.

(Joel)>> Something cool and nostalgic about an old Mopar sitting in the weeds isn't there?

(Tommy)>> This one being black's kinda cool. The factory color.

(Joel)>> Her exterior has seen better days, but this Swinger has the potential to be a heavy hitter. When a car has been sitting out as long as this one has there's always some surprises when you go to pop the hood. Look at that!

(Tommy)>> I have to say that looks way better under here than I thought it would.

(Joel)>> I was not expecting that.

(Tommy)>> This is the first thing I always like to check. There ain't none in it. It'd be cool if we could just jump this dude off. Maybe pour a little gas in the carburetor and fire it up. At least drive it onto the trailer. A winch would go faster.

(Joel)>> What'd be the fun in that? Where's your sense of adventure.

(Tommy)>> I don't know if it's adventure or wisdom.

(Joel)>> I was anticipating we were gonna have a few more problems. So, I brought a cap and rotor, fuel filter, some of that stuff just in case.

(Tommy)>> I really do hope that's all it is.

(Joel)>> Make for a light day for us.

(Tommy)>> You know the story on this thing at all?

(Joel)>> I know he bought it roughly eight years ago. The guy initially wanted $3,500 bucks for it, and he was able to talk him down to $800.

(Tommy)>> Sounds like this should be something we need to buy.

(Joel)>> So far so good.

(Tommy)>> I'm curious. Grab me a set of keys. This is the moment.

Nada! We're gonna have to clean them cables. You better not have brought a mess of bad luck with you.

(Joel)>> Everything else looks good though. [ Music ]

(Tommy)>> I feel like I'm taking the long route with this one. Let's try it again. Dome light on, negative! Tell me if the headlights come on.

(Joel)>> Nope!

(Tommy)>> Battery cable, seven-sixteenths. Golly! Had to put a little man on that one. [ ratchet clicking ]

(Tommy)>> Want to give her a whirl?

(Joel)>> Yeah! Uh, gross! Yep, dead as a doornail.

(Tommy)>> I found a piece of wire laying here on the ground. Technically it's two pieces of wire. If I can get it apart and splice it back together. You too can make yourself an ignition switch. You find something? Good, we'll use that for the backup. You want to, take that big long one, twist it around that positive side of the coil, and I'm gonna find a way to put some gasoline in this thing. I'm making me a makeshift fuel tank basically because I forgot to bring one. What I'm gonna do is hook a hose in my fuel pump down there, slide a piece of rubber hose into here, snag a hose up there, put a couple of zip ties here and there, and this thing's gonna be worth at least the amount of gas that bottle's holding. Some may think that little blue thing in there is to keep the cola in the bottle, but in this situation it's gonna keep the fuel from sloshing out of that bottle. I should patent this right here. Look at that boys! I think Dodge meant for it to be this way cause conveniently right there. No need for a zip tie! Well, you want to drive it? You've got to remember you're gonna have to drive it with the gas pedal and the shifter, and there is an ignition switch to cut it off. So, trick here is to not park it in the bed of the truck. Keep it on the trailer, and if worst comes to worst neutral, then park.

(Joel)>> Come on old girl. [ engine starts ]

(Tommy)>> We just run out of gas. That was 20 ounces of fuel. I vote winch. [ Music ]

(Joel)>> Takes me back to my wire line days. [ Music ] Comfy! Smells like the '70s in here. [ Music ]

(Tommy)>> It's gonna feel weird but I need you to keep it that way. Turn it. Straighten up! [ Music ] Did you hit the brakes?

(Joel)>> I hit the gear shifter. I told him we should have winched it. Coming up, we give it fuel, give it fire, and all the stopping power you desire.

(Tommy)>> Well after getting our old Dodge in the shop and doing some investigating work we come to the conclusion we're gonna need several pieces.

(Joel)>> We called up our buddies at RockAuto and ordered a boatload of parts that are gonna help us get this old Mopar back on the road.

(Tommy)>> The first thing that we're gonna address the fuel system. Now out there in the field I cracked the top off of this thing and it was green on the inside. So hopefully it'll clean up and a simple kit installed will do the trick.

(Joel)>> We're also gonna be addressing the fuel system in its entirety with a new fuel tank, sending unit, flushing out the lines, and even swapping out that pump. Adding a new fuel pump is going to ensure that we're getting adequate gas flow to the engine when we fire that 360 and squeeze out all the ponies she can muster. [ Music ] I'm no expert but I'd say it's been a minute since that bad boy's been changed, especially in comparison to the new one. I made a mess! [ Music ]

Good news is that's not an obnoxious sound at all. Good should workout though! Now getting that old fuel out does a couple of things. One, makes it lighter and easier to drop out. And two, it eliminates a safety hazard. You never want to keep an old fuel tank just laying around your shop cause as you know, fuel plus fire can equal a bad day. Now to drop this tank is fairly straightforward. Basically you've got two rubber hoses and a connector attached to the sending unit. And then you've got to zip loose two J-bolts and she should come right out. [ Music ] [ metal clanging ]

(Joel)>> Now we could go through all the work of refurbishing that old tank and sending unit, but RockAuto offers replacements for both. So we're just gonna make it easy on ourselves and swap them out. Now it wouldn't make much sense to put a new fuel tank in and try and reuse that old sender, especially considering how long that car's been sitting. What your fuel sender does is basically you've got a little indicator here and it'll tell you how much fuel you have left in the tank. It also draws fuel up from the tank into the new pump that we just installed. First up is a little rubber gasket that has to go in between the sending unit and the tank. And this is kinda the difficult part, feeding this thing through all the canyons and crevices. Sometimes you get lucky like that. Then you just need a ball peen hammer and a chisel to knock it in. [ drill humming ]

(Joel)>> Bingo!

(Tommy)>> With the car sitting this long to just assume that the brakes are in working order would just be careless. So we're gonna have to address all this stuff. Also, with this thing torn down it's a perfect opportunity for you to check the wheel bearings and the spindle. Now you have two places that the bearing rides on this little stub. What can happen is you can accumulate excessive wear here on the bottom side. So you need to wipe this off and kinda do a little fingernail test. What you want to see is if there's any kind of snag that your fingernail hits as you go around where the bearing runs. This one has an ever so slight amount but luckily it looks like we caught it in time. This can be caused from a bad bearing, or the bearing pre-load being inaccurately set. When we took this one off there was zero tightness to that nut. So I was curious where we were gonna be at. Right now we're just gonna throw in a new set of bearings and a new seal. That should take care of this just fine.

(Joel)>> The next hurdle we're gonna be tackling on our Driveway Rescue is the brake system, and these old drums have definitely seen better days. For starters our hardware's all rusted out, looks like the shoes are pretty much shot, and we've got a leak on our wheel cylinder. So we'll get all this old junk taken off and we'll swap it out for that hardware and brake shoe kit we got from the guys at RockAuto. A lot of modern mechanics probably haven't seen anything like this. A lot of these levers and springs can be intimidating, but keep your eyes on what goes where, take a few pics, and you'll be good. Once you've got your wheel cylinder off you're good to take your backing plate, and sand blast it, and paint whatever color your heart desires. At first glance when you look at our brake shoes they're almost identical but if you put them side by side you can see this one has a lot more surface area, and there's a reason for that. Whenever you go to slam on the brakes you have more force and momentum going forward. So you need that extra surface area, and that's why this one is your primary and faces towards the front of the vehicle and this one is your secondary and faces towards the rear. Our RockAuto drum brakes have more than enough stopping power for this mini Mopar. Just remember once you get this all put together you've got to bleed the brakes before you pressurize the system. Much better! Now for me personally I like to keep my adjustment all the way in, and then I'll set my hub on and spin it, and adjust it out until I only get one revolution. That's usually industry standard for most drum brakes.

(Tommy)>> Up next, we take a look back at the Swinger that started it all.

(Tommy)>> Now there's no denying that we've still got a lot more work to do on our old '72 Dart, but if you were to take one of these cars and accompany it with some performance you'd have yourself a homerun. [ Music ] A car that embodied the '60s in both name and spirit was the '69 Dart Swinger. The Dodge boys tempted cash strapped buyers with this mini muscle car that churned out 6,000 r-p-m for under $3,000. For that price tag you could get anything from a straight six up to a 383 Magnum.

(Joel)>> But the real muscle came in their iconic 340 package. $2,800 bucks got you all the standard muscle car goodies like heavy duty suspension, firm ride shocks, and dual chrome tipped exhaust, and you also got a four speed Hurst shifter pulling a set of 3.23 gears giving you full control when you swung into action. Power bulges on the hood let you know that this Dodge was rocking a potent 340 small block V-8. It pushed over 275 horses at 5,000 r-p-m. Now that was less than 383, but it made up for it by being 90 pounds lighter, making this small car perfectly balanced.

(Tommy)>> Bumblebee stripes tagged it as a junior member of Dodge's elite Scat Pack, which included the SuperBee and the Charger. It could run with the big boys knocking out the quarter mile time in the mid-14's and went zero to 60 in six seconds. The Swinger 340 only came as a two door coupe and had slick options like this black vinyl top roof and exclusive bright red paint. The body style was the same as the '68 Dart with minor changes to the grille and taillights.

(Joel)>> On the inside the car was all business. Bench seats came standard, leaving plenty of room to haul you and all your friends. By today's standards it's nowhere near a compact. It's only one inch shorter than a Dodge Magnum.

(Tommy)>> Darts also came in a GTS package that was virtually identical to the Swinger except it had a 440 option, more bling, and a higher price tag.

(Joel)>> It's main rival was the Chevy Nova SS, which would run you about $300 dollars more for the same amount of performance. Of all the muscle cars that year this one was by far the best bang for your buck.

(Tommy)>> The Dart ran you about $10 dollars per horsepower. With its smaller size it flew under the insurance company's muscle car radar saving you even more green. [ Music ]

(Joel)>> The car was a hit in its first year with over 16,000 sold, and Dodge continued swinging well into the '70s.

(Tommy)>> The '69 Swinger 340 is still a good bargain today for anyone looking to own and drive a classic piece of Detroit Muscle.

(Joel)>> It's time for a little rock and roll.

(Tommy)>> Well we've pressure washed our Dart, and I have to say it turned out a lot better than we were thinking. Yeah, she's no beauty queen, but at least it's not as crusty as it was. We went ahead and removed the wheels all the way around because you could basically see the air inside of the tires. One funny thing about wheels is if they're clean or nice they can really elevate the rest of the car, and there's a component like that on the inside that does the same thing.

(Joel)>> At first glance of our interior we've got some work to do. Overall, it's not in too bad a shape. Front seat's got a couple of tears here. Back seat's actually in really good shape, but this carpet straight up nasty. Trust me, it smells as bad as it looks, but for now we're gonna get this old rug tore out of here and swap it with a new that we got from the guys at RockAuto. [ drill humming ] [ Music ]

(Tommy)>> Watch this! I think I need some hand sanitizer. It's not a rat next that's a rat hotel. [ Music ] [ vacuum hissing ]

(Tommy)>> As expected we had a little bit of surface rust here on our floor pans. We're gonna spray on some rust preventative to help slow things down. May even put in some sound deadening just for good measure. [ Music ]

(Joel)>> That should do it. We also made sure to do a couple of rounds of cleaning on the seats with an extractor to dig out all that nastiness. After we sand blasted, painted, and installed a fresh set of center caps we topped off our wheels with some new rubber to complete the ensemble. Using a simple trick I learned from detailer buddy of mine I scrubbed off years of contaminants from this old Swinger's paint job with a clay bar and a few sprays of some ceramic coating. [ Music ] Well guys I think it's safe to say we've done right by this old Mopar by addressing several issues inside and out, and underneath the hood. It's finally time to stretch it out on the highway for its first test drive. You know what? I think I have the perfect co-pilot in mind who's been dying to see this thing in action. Alright Flamur, I want you to picture for a minute a 50 year old car, and it's been sitting in the weeds, neglected, out in the elements every day, and it has a carpet and interior that looks just like that. It takes a big pile of parts like we got over there to even get it back on the road.

(Flamur)>> I'm kinda scared to be honest with you, but there's only one way to go from here if it's gonna be better. I have a good feeling.

(Joel)>> Well remember that picture because I think what's behind this door just might surprise you. Ready for this? [ Music ] So, this is our '72 Dodge Dart Swinger. What do you think?

(Flamur)>> This is the type of transformation that guys like us look forward to.

(Joel)>> It has made quite a transformation from what it was just two weeks ago. It's not your car show car. It's not super shiny, but the potential is there.

(Flamur)>> This is definitely a d-i-y car guy project. I know everything underneath is in shape. I think we should take a look at the engine just to see what that looks like.

(Joel)>> Let's pop the hood. You've got to see this. What do you think of that?

(Flamur)>> I miss cars like this. They're so easy to work on. You can sit on the fender and turn wrenches. There's so much room.

(Joel)>> It's just a cool feeling that this car has a second chance at life.

(Flamur)>> It's got a great foundation. What I love about these types of vehicles is you need those three things. Fuel, air, spark. If you have all three of those things you can figure out how to get these cars running.

(Joel)>> I know you saw that nasty carpet out front there. I want you to take a peek and tell me what you see.

(Flamur)>> This is such an amazing transformation! It's so easy to change the look of the interior of the vehicle. I don't need the hazmat suit anymore either. This is gonna be a joy to drive. If you have a socket set and if you have a screwdriver these carpets go right in.

(Joel)>> Me and Tommy busted it out in a couple of hours, and that was two hours very well spent.

(Flamur)>> Totally changes the look of the vehicle, and the smell.

(Joel)>> What do you say we take it for a spin?

(Flamur)>> I'm itching, let's go.

(Joel)>> Now I've got to say, probably out of all the Driveway Rescues we've done this has been my favorite so far.

(Flamur)>> This feels like a vehicle that just kinda fell into place. The owner needed help. We were able to give it to him, and relatively simple fixes. These cars, when they were built, they were built.

(Joel)>> And you guys at RockAuto, you have been so awesome. Every time we've done a Driveway Rescue it's no questions asked. This is what we need to get this car back on the road, and you guys just send it. And we appreciate it, the owner appreciates it, and it's always fun doing these Driveway Rescues.

(Flamur)>> We're thrilled because these are real cars. These are real guys.

(Joel)>> This is what it's about right here. When you finally get it to stretch out on the highway, and it's just smooth gliding, and you just get to chill for a minute. It's definitely the best part of the job right here.

(Flamur)>> This is good therapy. Just a joy to drive. We've got a beautiful day. Look at these trees. Just a little bit of a windy road.

(Joel)>> It's hard to beat, ain't it?

(Flamur)>> I can make a living doing this.

(Joel)>> We call it perks of the job.

(Flamur)>> Nothing looks like this anymore.

(Joel)>> Probably will never again.

(Flamur)>> It's a bygone era, and just being able to get things like this up and running again. There's no reason why you couldn't drive this car every day. Cars from this era, this is what they're meant to do.

(Joel)>> I wouldn't know. No one ever lets me drive.
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