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Only in Canada, eh?
Special Thanks are in order
'71 & '72 'special' Order 'H' code Swinger 340's!
WITH the discontinuation of
the Swinger 340 after the
1970 model year, fans of
this feisty little A-body
were out of luck. But, never say never with
Ma Mopar as a Western Canadian dealership did something no one else could do for ’71 or ’72!
Crosstown Motor City out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada was the driving force in getting Chrysler head office to make a few more of these popular Mopars for them.
NOW, with that said, no other factory '71 or '72 versions were ever made, by anyone, you couldn’t even order one if you wanted - they were discontinued – and as you read on, these were the only 'H' code 340 Swingers ever made after 1970! PERIOD. Making for a very rare and 'special' Muscle Cars!
What's so 'special' about these 340 Specials?
The writing was on the wall for muscle cars in the early '70's as insurance companies, along with the EPA, started penalizing performance, along with the so-called energy crisis, made Detroit start dialing back the 'muscle' even more. Hmmm, well, out here in Western Canada, the gas crisis didn't exist and young drivers were able to get their hands on the few cars that dodged the insurance companies with small block performance engines, like the 340. But, with the Swinger 340 gone they’d now have to switch to the new for '71 Demon 340 or the Plymouth Duster 340.
If you still wanted a Swinger, the biggest engine available was the 230 horsepower 318-2bbl. With 16,637 Swinger 340s produced in 1969 and 13,785 in 1970, it was no question that they were damn good sellers, especially in Canada. With the lack of a 340 Swinger for 1971, it left many enthusiasts and drag racers empty handed.
BUT as mentioned - out here in Western Canada - if you were one of the lucky ones, you could still get an ‘H’ code Swinger...
NOW, at the end of 2018, I had the good fortune to be introduced to Bob Beveridge, the original Crosstown Motor City Sales Manager from that era, by Mike Bullis, a life long friend of Bobs who worked at Chinook Chrysler in Calgary. In 1968, Mike helped campaign the 'other' LO23 Hemi S/S Dart here in Alberta, with the 2nd one being from Crosstown - the only 2 LO23 Hemi Darts sold new in Canada. Because they raced in the same class - SS/BA, they saw each other almost every weekend as they went head-to-head at almost every Western Canadian dragstrip all summer long. With that bit of history, I chatted at length with both Bob and Mike about the Edmonton/Calgary rivalry, the movers and shakers and the performance cars that came out of their perspective dealerships. With that, it was soon revealed that the numbers for these ultra rare '71 & '72 Swinger 340 Specials needed to be amended... and here’s a quick ‘updated’ version of the new info and numbers!!!
Back in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s, the owner of Crosstown Motor City, Zane Feldman loved applying sales and marketing to his dealership, constantly making deals with head office and making sure his sales force could move a lot of vehicles because he was wheelin' and dealin'. To make sure this would happen he promoted Bob Beveridge to sales manager in ’67 and things began to move - and with Bob being a performance junky, Crosstown was soon known for the place to get your muscle Mopar as well. In just a few years they were the highest volume dealer in Canada and they were purported to have sold the most Hemi cars per capita in Canada. They also sponsored a number of successful drag racers, as well as sponsoring a Challenger funny car with Bob Papernick behind the wheel (click here for more on Crosstown).
So, with Zane, Bob and the sales force moving a shitload of cars for head office, they were soon demanding a few more things, and when Dodge discontinued the Swinger 340 for ’71, they still wanted a ‘price point’ Swinger 340 for the drag racing scene, which was hot in Edmonton at the time. Sure there was the new Demon but they cost a bit more and they needed a stripped down version at a low price point, so they ‘special’ ordered some - hey, the worse that could happen was for them to say no, but with Zane in a direct pipeline to head office in Windsor and in Detroit, it started coming together.
Bob first asked for a whopping 300 of these cars but knew that wasn’t going to happen - hey, start high... and as things dragged along - so much so that things were getting close to the ‘build out’ time as it was already almost May. Also, with Drag racing season getting into full swing and knowing they were going to be the guys buying these cars, they needed to get these cars built. So, after some prodding from Zane and Bob along with some back and forth and factory commitments, the total build number was soon whittled down to 83 units. Then, as time was dragging along they realized their lot footprint wouldn't allow all 83. They then reached out to regional office (Red Deer) and knowing a number of other dealerships wanting in on these 340 Specials, they in turn made some arrangements with a couple other Western Canadian dealerships, and when the dust settled, 18 were taken over by Crestview Dodge in Regina, Saskatchewan and a couple drop shipped to Ft. St. John, BC with the remaining 63 being sold out of the Crosstown lot.
WHAT? IT WAS SAID ONLY 65 or 75 WERE MADE FOR ’71!!! With 40 for Crosstown and 25 for Crestview and now there's 85!?! Well, we’re very sorry, but we had the very good fortune to find and chat with Bob Beveridge… the original Sales Manager at the time, and he straightened out the full story - because he instigated and made this all happen as head-of-sales at that time.
So, does this effect the ’72 Swinger 340 Special story too? Ummm, it sure does!
It seems owner Zane was up to his old ‘over promise’ and some how deliver scenario, and as mentioned before, they were able to blow out over 1,100 vehicles for head office and in exchange they were able to get some more 340 Specials! No sooner said than done, Bob was on the horn with the order for those popular 340 Specials again. But this time he knew he wouldn’t get what they got for ’71 so he lowered his order number to 50 or so.
Then, as performance started waning, and with the '72 Windsor plants 'build-out-time' just around the corner (orders had the tendency to go off the rails), they only delivered 23 cars this time round, with 5 being ‘swooped’ by Pembina Dodge in Winnipeg, Manitoba before they left the factory floor. As well, a dealership in Abbotsford, BC wanted a couple, so Bob drop shipped a couple there - for a grand total of only 30 of these ‘H’ coded Swinger 340 Specials for ’72.
WHOA!!! BUT YOU SAID THERE WERE UP TO 65 OF THEM BUILT FOR ’72, WITH 45 GOING TO CROSSTOWN AND 15 OR SO GOING TO PEMBINA!?!!! Well, I do have to apologize again because we were only going on guesstimates and off of the sequential VIN numbers of the known cars, hearsay, stories and what people heard back in the day. SORRY.
Well, we’re sorry for putting a 1/2 inch bolt down the cylinder on this story, but when the update comes by a first-hand-account from the guy who did the orders back then, you have to know that this ‘IS’ the story.
Only in Canada, eh?
Canadians are known for being passive, low key and for the most part – we don’t wave our flag very high (except for the odd hockey game). Well, the story behind these Canadian ordered '71 and '72 Swinger 340 Specials was no different. In the US, dealerships like Yenko and Grand Spalding Dodge made sure everyone knew about their performance machines, but in typical Canadian hype and fanfare – virtually no one knew these cars even existed. With that said, we have to hand it to Crosstown Motor City to have had the 'prairie oysters' to order up a round of these rare little cayuse's.
And just to drive the 'Canadian' aspect of the cars home a little more, the '71 Crestview cars and the Pembina '72's were all coded for winter! They all received code F56 (-35 antifreeze) as well as code F25 (block heaters). One of the upgraded '72 Pembina cars even got the code H31 (rear window defogger). Now, that's pretty Canadian, eh?
Although the Crosstown cars weren't coded for them, we are sure the new owners didn't leave the dealership without a block heater installed. Brrr.
How rare is rare?
Known only to a handful of Western Canadian enthusiasts (see sidebar), these rare little Dodge’s flew under the Muscle Car radar ever since they were built. Along with being pretty much unknown and rare as hens teeth – these stripped down scrappy little Canadians were built to go – and go they did! Armed with the performance minded 340 and plenty of go-fast goodies, and built on the base LL platform, they were introduced with virtually no options or creature comforts like carpet, bucket seats, rear arm-rests, chrome moldings and for some, no hood scoops or radios!
With the Crosstown cars being bare boned, stripped down race cars, the '71 Crestview and '72 Pembina cars got a few extra goodies - as you will find out.
As of the beginning of 2017, there are only 24 known '71's documented with a few awaiting verification and 3 that have met an untimely death. As for the '72's, we have only documented 15, with 2 meeting an early demise and an another couple that are essentially ghost cars. So, with only a handful of these factory hotrods in existence, 'rare' doesn't come close – the word 'scarce' or 'inconceivably few' come to mind - especially the ’72’s.
Oh, and just to let you know, the 'Special' in Swinger Special does not imply a special run (although it was), the Swinger Special was the LL (base model) of Dart Swingers in '71 & '72 – making for a stripped down car when all you wanted was performance.
Here's something interesting – these cars were for-the-most-part sequentially built, which means that each batch was built one after each other, all on their designated date – making for a very, very short production run – of not even a day! A very rare occurrence on the factory line...
These 'H' code '71 and '72 Swinger 340 Specials aren't supposed to exist...
But if you have a VIN that reads likes this, then I think that quantifies the car:
The 1971 version can be identified by the VIN: LL23H1R...
(L=Dart, L=Low, 23=2 Door Hardtop, H=340, 1=71, R=Windsor, Ontario)
The 1972's VIN looks like this: LL23H2R...
(L=Dart, L=Low, 23=2 Door Hardtop, H=340, 2=72, R=Windsor, Ontario)
As well, each of these 340 Specials came with the very coveted 'Y39' special order code and of course the E55 engine code - along with a number of other go-fast goodies coded on each broadcast sheet.
...and with that, I'd have to say that's pretty darn special, 'eer, 340 Special.
NOTE: These cars weren't a low production factory car anyone could get their hands on. They weren't a dealership 'hotrod' like Yenko and Mr. Norm cars were... They were a factory order of a discontinued non-existent performance car. As well, they weren't a Swinger 340 like the '70 model. They were a Swinger Special with a 340 added to it, with accompanying go fast parts.
With that in mind, if you happen upon a '71 or '72 Swinger Special with scoops and 340 badging, check for that illusive 'H' in the VIN code – you might be witness to a piece of American muscle history. Only in Canada, eh?
Yes, these '71 and '72 Swinger 340 Specials are very rare and their collectability is rising in the muscle car arena as more info and cars are found. With that, this website was built as a labour of love by the handful of owners, and even though there is a lot of info displayed here, there are a number of 'special' traits that aren't talked about or shown. Traits that make these cars, and these cars only – special. If you are one of the lucky owners, you know what makes up the DNA of these cars. Now, if you don't own one but want more info, please contact us, we'll be happy to go into a little more depth on what you want to know. cg
Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the people who pioneered a lot of the history you see here. I know it was a road wrought with bumps, dead-ends and the occasional "...f@#! you, they don't exist!" I've been there... but it doesn't take away from the moments when a new car comes out of the woodwork or one goes on the rotisserie because you know another one has survived...
Recently, I had the good fortune of talking with Bob Beveridge who was sales manager at Crosstown Motor City when these cars were ordered and he set the record straight with the story along with production numbers.
Some of the names that have gone before me are Dan Rasmussen, Don Fox and Merv Ritter, who owned and did the initial digging on the '71 cars back in the early '90's. I'd also like to acknowledge Franco Bevilacqua, Joel Cooper (and Dan) for building the first website for these cars back in the late '90's (see above)
I'd like to thank the owners, like Dale Ingram, Wayne Gabrielle, Kevin Kaiser, Joel Cooper, Danny Fitzpatrick, Derek Spraakman, Daryl Frenette and others who have helped with
all the idiosyncrasies these
cars are made up of.
Thank you, and I hope you
enjoy our labour of love.
“I have no reason as to why,
but in Canada we have documented four of the approximately 50 or so
built – 1971 Swinger 340’s”
A couple of the Mopar worlds largest voices validating that these '71 & '72 Canadian order Swinger 340 Specials do in fact exist!
'Scarcest' article from Mopar Muscle magazine in 2001, wanting to know more about these Canadian Swinger 340 Specials.
Galen V. Govier commenting in the '90's once
he found out these Swinger 340 Specials existed.
People are Talking
Patrick Smith hi-lited the '71's back in 2000, and updated when he found out about the '72's - for phs collector car world
And as mentioned, Franco, along with Joel and Dan wrote about them in the early '90's:
As you also read in this article pull-out that there were some Duster Twister 340's produced, so if you know anything about these cars, let me know!!! Just click here...
Cover & Feature
"Who said they never made a 1972 Dodge Dart 'H' code? We had the pleasure meeting with the owner Cliff Guinand in Chicago this weekend. This is a true Canadian Gem."
Dave Wise of MMC Detroit & Barrett/Jackson commenting as he goes over this '72 version at the 2018 Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals
Mopar Connection e-magazine
In August of 2018 Cody Cole wrote an article in
Mopar Connection Magazine. How cool is that!
After attending MCACN 2018, Diego Rosenburg wrote this article for Hagerty.com Whoa! Cool.
Hemmings Muscle Machines covered the B5 340 Special as part of their MCACN coverage in their March, 2019 issue.
Mopar Collectors Guide - April 2019
When I/we were in Chicago at MCACN, Rob Wolf approached us to say they wanted to do a feature of the car at the end of the show, Sunday. WHOA!!! So, Tim Costello did his magic Sunday evening before we headed back to Alberta and a week later, Randy Holden called to get the story for their April, 2019 issue. Now, unfortunately the 'new' production numbers didn't make it into the story, and a few other aspects of the story differ from what is written here, but all in all, we'll take it. Hey, it's MCG!!!
Diego Rosenberg, in his 2016 book 'Selling the American Muscle Car' for CarTech Publications mentions these '71 & '72 Swinger 340 Specials in this fine piece of reading.
Mopar Action Magazine - April 2019
Geoff Stunkard at Mopar Action was covering MCACN in November 2017 and hi-lighted 9 or so cars in the issue, and yup, you guessed it, one of them was this Swinger 340 Special - adding yet another validation to these cars!!!
These rare little Canadians are getting some press time, and here's what they're saying:
Bone Stock Magazine - Summer 2018
Cliff Guinands B5 '72 340 Special was on the cover & featured in the summer 2018 issue of
Hot Rod Magazine - Nov. 2019 – on-line
Muscle Car Review magazine did a full dual feature on Danny Fitzpatrick's (EV2 Pembina) & Cliff Guinand's (B5 Crosstown) Swinger 340 Specials, written by Diego Rosenberg and photographed by Ken Woo. The feature was set to run in their February 2020 issue, but, as many of you know, MCR was shutdown, just as the February issue was going to print. Dang!
Here's the Hot Rod Magazine version of it...
Featured 340 Special
We will try and hi-light as many of these cars as time and energy will allow, so check back now and again and hope we are staying on top of things.
Crosstown Motor City
Crosstown Motor City in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada sold a lot more muscle than these Swinger 340 Specials...
Swinger 340 T-Shirt
Burnouts Hot Rod Wear by Guinand has this awesome Swinger 340 image on high quality 100% pre-shrunk cotton t-shirts. We have a lot of other Mopars along with other muscle cars. Just click on the image/logo and shop 'till you drop! www.burnouts.net
See these 'Burnouts' A-body t-shirts along with other Mopar and Brand X
versions by clicking here...