1972 Swinger 340 Specials
They don't exist!!!
The '72 Canadian Swinger 340 Specials went totally under the automotive radar – there was some talk and research on the ‘71 340 Specials, but virtually no one knew ‘72’s existed. These cars were not ordered in the same sense of the word as the ‘71’s, but were ordered and commissioned by Chrysler Head Office and essentially gifted to Crosstown Motors in Edmonton, Alberta. It seems Head Office wanted to move over 1,100 units in the spring of ‘72 and approached Zane Feldman, owner of Crosstown, because he had a great track record of moving a lot of wanted and unwanted inventory, and in exchange, they'd build more of those hot selling 340 Specials. So, with sales manager Bob Beveridge conducting sales, it must have happened because no sooner said than done, Bob was on the horn to head office to get more of those great selling little 340 Specials.
In the media back then
I had the good fortune of talking to a couple original owners who said they did hear a radio ad or two. One of the original owners, who was a Ford fan, had his interest peaked when he heard an ad, so he went down to Crosstown and purchased one, but he only had a handful to choose from by the time he made it down to buy one.
As for print ads, up until 2019 none were found but thanks to Mopar writer and aficionado, Cody Cole, who was going thru a vintage online newspaper site and came across this June 22nd '72 Edmonton Journal ad. Wow. Thanks Cody! Now, you will see they didn't have an illustration or photo of a '72 Swinger so they used a non-scoop '71 Swinger in it's place, but the wording and other featured '72 cars and the date of the newspaper clearly makes this a '72 ad. "Specially Built for Crosstown..."
Like the 71’s, ‘72 Swinger 340 Specials were ordered and built as the Dart Swinger Special which has the VIN prefix of LL23H2R (L=Dart, L=Low, 23=2 Door Hardtop, H=340, 2=72, R=Windsor, Ontario Plant). The ‘72’s, which were ordered as ‘Specials’, denoted the base or bottom line of the Dart model. But, they were also ‘special ordered’ – indicated by the highly sought after Y39 ‘SPECIAL ORDER’ code typed out on each broadcast sheet.
As of 2018, and as mentioned in the ’71 info, there now appears to have only been 30 or so of these ’72 Swinger 340 Specials built – with virtually all going to Crosstown Motor City in Edmonton. Now, initially sales manager Bob ordered over 50 of them because he knew things were changing at head office and beyond. The EPA and insurance companies were clamping down hard on emissions, and thus, performance and even cars badged as Swingers were getting dinged hard, if they had more than a 6cyl or 318 - so things were going to be different this time round.
Knowing the 50+ ordered wouldn't happen, Crosstown only received 23 cars, with 5 or so pre-sold leaving 17 on the lot, and then Pembina Dodge in Winnipeg scooping 5 of “those little hotrods” – as the late Ike Vicker told me as he remembered they had received a few of them back in the summer of ’72. It seems the word was out from the year before that those ’71’s sold like hot cakes and now everyone wanted a piece of the pie. So Pembina knew Crosstown had order more and essentially hijacked 5 before things even got started and made those 5 their own with a special upgrade - sort of like what Crestview did with the ’71 orders. With Crosstown being the big bad dealership because of what they were accomplishing, other dealerships wanted a part of the action and they did a number of backhanded deals with head office, and this Pembina deal was just one example of what was happening then.
With 30 as the final number of 340 Specials built, there were 2 of the Crosstown cars that made their way over to a dealership in Abbottsford, BC. Bob couldn't remember the name of it but knew the guy, who was with Richmond Dodge in Vancouver previously, who somehow squeeze a couple out of the Crosstown order.
A Special Look Back in Time
The top photo below shows your's truly in the fall of 2003 digging out an EV2 340 Special from it's wintery grave. I'd like to thank my son Leland, nephew Rob, along with Jim for helping to save this rough example from a certain demise. The other 2 pics show examples of them being spotted, dug out and saved from the Canadian landscape.
With that said, not a lot is known about these cars because so few were produced and because they weren't part of an independent dealership order – going unnoticed until the turn of the century. What got things going was when Kevin Kaiser, after pulled his yellow ’72 out of the weeds in 2002, had a chance meeting with me (Cliff Guinand) in 2004 just after I pulled an EV2 version out of a northern Alberta slough. Well, that moment verified that these cars were in fact real and weren’t some VIN mistake or that Dodge didn't make any... like so many Mopar people told us.
Ordered and built primarily as a performance car at the end of the performance era – they came down the Windsor, Ontario Plant assembly line with their fender tags hanging from their mirrors (screwed on later, unpainted), and were then culled to the side where they would get their performance upgrades. All were cookie-cutter, plain jane, low option cars - equipped with 10” drum brakes all around, HD sway bars, vinyl rubber floors, B1 plaid cloth/vinyl bench seats and no rear arm rests or chrome, but you did get an AM radio, maybe. They also now came with shoulder belts, a new cheaper cardboard headliner and a new dash face.
And as mentioned, the 5 Pembina cars got upgrades – like carpet, vinyl seats and moldings... they were even coded for block heaters and 1 of the 2 documented cars got power disc brakes. Fancy!
These cars had a late ‘72 scheduled build date, with the Crosstown cars going through on May 11 (511) and the Pembina cars on June 16 (616) in the Windsor, Ontario, Canada plant. Like the ‘71’s, all VIN numbers and order numbers are sequential, which means one of these cars can be identified by the VIN or the order number located on the fender tag or broadcast sheet.
It seems most of these 340’s received the forged steel crank, although one did get a cast crank version. Only 7 had their original engines, so we don't know how many got each of these cranks. All the 340's were painted blue since they were from a late '71 production and '72 run, according to existing engine casting dates. They also received the new for '72 electronic ignition and all got the mandated emissions carbon canisters. These 340's almost retained the performance numbers of previous 340’s – even with the new NET rated 240hp rating, 8:5 compression, smaller 1:88 J heads and slightly reworked ThermoQuad – they could still achieve tire melting launches at the drop of a chevy.
The drive train options connected to the underrated 240hp 340 was either a 3 speed automatic (D34), a 4 speed manual (D21) or the 3 speed manual (D13) transmissions. They also came with a dual snorkel hood (same as Demon 340), torque boxes on all corners and an 8 3/4” 3:23 open rear end standard.
With just 2 hi-impact colours left for ‘72 – Hemi Orange (EV2) and Top Banana (Y1) – the colour choices were pretty much the full ‘72 line, but with only 24 made, you probably didn’t have too many choices. The only variation on options was found in a 3 speed manual car which came radio delete.
The ‘72 Dart Swinger 340 Special was similar to the ‘70 and ‘71 models but for the most part, they were a one year anomaly. The most noticeable differences are the full ‘swept’ front grille, flush mounted front and rear marker lights, tail stripe, front split bench plaid / vinyl seat and dual snorkel type hood scoop. Carry overs were the quad '71 tail lights, small bolt rallye wheels with dark argent centers with different centre hubs. Most cars came equipped with black steel wheels and dog-dish hubcaps, while a few got the W-11 deluxe 32 hole full hubcap. The ‘Swinger’ emblem is located on the front fenders like the ‘71’s and has the ‘Special’ emblem under it. The ‘340’ emblems had been moved from the hood scoops as on 70 and 71’s to the front fender, just behind the marker lights. All 65 cars received black or white bumblebee tail stripes even though none were coded for it (most likely dealer installed). Like the ‘71’s – rear torsion and front leaf torque boxes were applied to most (some automatics may have just received front leaf boxes) of the cars. They also came equipped with HD sway bars – as other 340 Swingers before them. When the hood was opened, the immediate differences was a large single snorkel, orange air cleaner emblazoned with a 340 4 barrel decal. The air cleaner was now attached to the new low restriction version exhaust manifold by a black ducting piped up from a heat stove on the manifold to the air cleaner. Also, as part of the new emissions push, a black charcoal canister was tucked up against the ‘22 inch radiator.
At this time, there are 15 known and documented with a couple of those meeting an early death. Of these, 10 were located in AB, 2 in BC and 1 in MB, now in Connecticut – a Pembina car. If you have one, have seen one, heard rumors or just want more information, please contact us in the 'sightings' portion of this website. Thanks. Cliff
340 Special Fact Sheet
'Special' Stories, new and old...
The Hard Facts
The broadcast sheet shown here gives you an idea of just how stripped down the Crosstown cars were. This one is from my B5 340 Special, where the only thing shiny is the exhaust tips. And as you will not see is the R11 code – radio delete. What you can see is the D13 code for the 3sp manual transmission, making this one a very stripped down example.
The 1972 Swinger 340 Special's fender tags were not painted. While the '71's were, the reason the '72's weren't isn't known for sure, but because they were a special order, in all likely hood, they came down the line with the tags hanging on the mirror. With no other 340 cars being built in the Windsor plant, they were probably put aside to receive the special pieces that made the 340 Specials. It's a theory, and if anyone knows otherwise, please let us know. Thanks.
Here is a one pager that shows reference to many of the details and anomalies that make up one of these 1972 Swinger 340 Specials.
Crosstown Motor City
Crosstown Motor City in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada sold a lot more muscle than these Swinger 340 Specials...
Kevin Kaiser going thru the gears on his Y1 '72