This 1,150-HP Dodge Dart Is the Ultimate Track Monster
As is, the Dodge has been rocking 8.5 at 155 miles per hour and registers about 1150 horsepower.
In 1969, Dodge advertised its Dart Swinger 340 with the alluring catchphrase ”6,000 RPM for under three grand,” which was even cheaper than the popular Road Runner. A fine example of an early Dodge muscle car, the two-door hardtop Dart Swinger was priced at about half that of a Charger G/T.
Rival Plymouth flexed with its all-new Duster 340 and outshined the Dart, which led to the discontinuation of Dodge’s mini muscle car by 1976. The Duster is “the car that got away” for me; my dad had a 1970 Gold Duster picked out for me and I told him I didn’t like it. Kicking myself now. Collectors are starting to recognize Dusters and Darts as a solid alternative to some of the big sellers in the genre, and when builder Richard Kinnison spotted this one in 2015, he knew this was the one.
“I was looking for a classic car that wasn't a Mustang, Camaro or Chevelle,” Kinnison told me. “Those are basically something that you see 50 of at every classic car show you go to. I wanted something that was a little different than the cookie cutter pieces you see at every show.”
Kinnison wanted to get into classic cars; he felt the import scene was taking a turn for the worse, and he wanted something to build with his family. When he bought the Dart Swinger, he decided to equip it with a factory 6.0-liter truck block from a junkyard engine (bored .030 over). He added a set of junkyard 317 heads with some BTR 660 springs, Texas Speed pushrods, and a BTR trunnion upgrade. It also has some off-the-shelf Summit Pro LS rods and pistons, and a Summit Racing camshaft along with the stock crankshaft. With the help of his family, he figured out most of it on his own.
“Some might say ‘An LS swap is cookie cutter,’ but I beg to differ,” Kinnison said. “When I started this project in 2017, I literally had only heard of one or two LS-swapped Mopars in the world, and there sure wasn't any information for me to go off when adapting it to my car. Having never taken on that much I felt like it was time to challenge myself and do something new.”
Once Kinnison had it in his hands, he says he upgraded the suspension, removed the torsion bars and factory K-member, and installed an STR chassis front K-member setup (with lower control arms) with AFCO 3850 coilovers and Hotchkis upper control arms. The rear has been converted from the typical leaf spring setup to Chassis Engineering ladder bars, wishbone, and quarter-max anti-rollbar with some custom chassis bracing.
The engine is fuel injected and paired with a set of 225-cc HPI injectors and Holley Hi-Ram intake. Air flows through a pair of VSR 6973 turbos and a custom hot-side kit by Redmond Fabrication. Helping control the boost is a Holley Terminator X Max engine management and Carter Motorsports CO2 kit, Kinnison says. Cold air comes straight in through the turbos and goes through the Frozenboost air-to-water intercooler setup. The transmission is a built TH400 from Horsepower Solutions in Hampton, VA and currently has a Cameron's torque converter. It has a Holley 6.86 pro dash in there as well in a stock gauge cluster he cut and modified to accept it.
Kinnison says he originally started off with a pro touring kind of idea but that quickly morphed into the 3500+-pound, twin-turbo ¼-mile monster it is now. Almost all of the work was done by Kinnison along with his wife, two kids, and his twin brother except for the cage work, ladder bar suspension setup, hot-side piping/exhaust work that was done Redmond Fabrication in Pennsylvania.
The Washington resident races at Pacific Raceways in Kent and plans to compete in more events in Canada and beyond. He has some new trick flow cylinder heads and .685 lift springs coming from Brian Tooley Racing and is planning to switch the car to accept E85, and is considering a converter switchup. He'll also be ripping out all the 47-year-old wiring and replaced with a proper up-to-date setup so it all works as it should. Kinnison would like to take it to drag week soon and Street Car Super Nationals in Las Vegas this November, so he wants to make sure it's in top shape.
"Unless someone offers me money I couldn't refuse for it, I'll drive it to go pick up ice cream and drop the kids off like always, and participate in local cars and coffees too," he said. "I'll also be helping my wife build up her 2013 ZL1 Camaro and find a project to work on with my son. Possibly another LS swap with him for his first car during high school."
So far, Kinnison says, the Dodge has been rocking 8.5 at 155 miles per hour and registers about 1150 horsepower at the wheels. Other than retuning it and working toward making it even faster, Kinnison is happy with his build as is. Then again, he may have a few more ideas up his sleeve.
“It'll be much better this year with the new Trick Flow heads that just showed up yesterday and switching over to E85/E98,” he said. “I may be working on a 400 cubic inch short block but don't want to count my chickens before they hatch.”
It's a beauty in its current form already. Hat tip to you, sir.
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