Cutting It Close: Forrest Mackay’s ’69 Dart Swinger 340 4-speed


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Car enthusiasts usually find their love for cars early in life and a lot of the time; it’s thanks to somebody in the family. This is exactly the case with nineteen-year-old Forrest Mackay from Penticton, British Columbia. His father is to thank (or blame depending on which way you see it!) for his passion for muscle cars, Mopars especially. Forrest said, “My dad grew up in the muscle car era and all of his friends owned them. There was everything from Road Runners, Hemi Challengers, 340 ‘Cudas, Chevelles, all of that stuff!”

As a kid, Forrest says he was never interested in his dad’s “back in the day” stories except for the ones about his friend’s muscle cars. When he was twelve-years-old, he really started getting hard into American muscle cars and decided he wanted to save all of his money so he could eventually buy one to restore. While most kids were saving their allowances and various cash for video games and bicycles, Forrest was one of those kids saving for his dream car!

After saving for four years, sixteen year old Forrest started looking for a car. Having just missed out on a 1969 Camaro and then a 1970 Chevelle, he stumbled across an add on Castanet for some old Mopar projects for sale. While going through the ad, he noticed a listing for a 1969 Dodge Dart. “I remember freaking out and telling my parents about it. I begged them to let me buy it and they said no.” Forrest recalls. Three weeks later, he came home from school and was met by his dad telling him he better pack his bags and grab his money because they were going to do a road trip to look at the Dart he was talking about.

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When they arrived Forrest said, “I instantly fell in love with this rusty, completely sun-faded car.” It just wasn’t any regular Dart though. The Dart sitting in front of him was a factory 1969 Dart Swinger 340 4-speed. Unfortunately, the original engine and transmission were long gone but it didn’t deter him. Included with the car was a bare 340 block with heads and a blown up 4-speed transmission core. He knew he had to have it so he paid the owner and the three discussed what would be next for the Dart.

Being that the previous owner happened to own a Mopar restoration shop, Forrest and his dad decided they would leave the car with him and pay to have all the replacement metal done, which included the full quarter panels, trunk extensions, driver-side floor pan, inner fender and outer wheel wells. Once the metal work was complete, the Dart was brought back to Forrest in July 2012.

Forrest worked on it every day after school until a few months later, his dad came to him and told him he needed to clean it up because “a guy was coming to look at the car.” The “guy” in question was coming to assess the Dart because his father was going to pay to paint the Dart. As the Dart went to the body shop, so did Forrest, who went over almost every weekend to help. The body guy taught him how to weld, paint and do bodywork.

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After about a year at the body shop, the Dart was ready to come home wearing its fresh R4 Red paint. For the re-assembly of the Dart, Forrest and his father acquired the help of an older gentleman by the name of Vern who just happened to be a mechanic at a Dodge dealership from the 1950’s to the 1990’s. He was a huge help with the re-assembly and taught Forrest a lot in the process.

“It was amazing. I learned so much from it. Since the day I bought it, I told everyone that I would be at my high school graduation with the car and no one believed me,” Forrest explained. With the help of Vern, they managed to finish the Dart the day of Forrest’s graduation ceremony. He says he skipped school that day to put the final pieces on the car and hoped for the best.

“Thirty minutes before I had to leave for the ceremony, I told Vern it’s now or never! I said if it doesn’t run properly, I’m not going to make it. Luckily I got in, started it up and it ran as good as I could of ever hoped for! I remember driving up to my school late and everyone could not believe that was the car I had always been taking about. I was smiling ear to ear! It was an amazing feeling to finish the car the day I said I would!” he says.

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The Dart is a factory ’69 Swinger with a 340 backed by a 4-speed. Forrest says it’s 97% stock and he restored it as close to factory correct as an eighteen-year-old could possibly do. Originally a highly optioned dealership demo car sold in Trail, BC, he has the original fender data tag and build sheet for it as well. It has a correctly-dated 1969 340 four-barrel engine bored .30 over and built to stock specifications by Randy Carlson in Grindrod, BC.

The exterior is exactly how it came from the factory. Painted in R4 Red, the outside also features a factory black Bumble Bee stripe and black vinyl roof. On the inside, you’ll find a beautifully restored tan bench seat interior as originally coded on the Dart’s fender tag.

After he finished the restoration, the original owner came down to see the Dart and told Forrest that he couldn’t believe his eyes. He was so impressed that Forrest restored it exactly as promised that two months later, he and Forrest worked out a deal on a 1969 Charger R/T SE project that he had.

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Cody Cole

Associate/ Car Feature Editor – cody.cole@shawgroupmedia.com Since the age of 4, Cody has been obsessed with everything Mopar. On Christmas of 1998, Cody's parents gave him a rusty '69 Charger shell that his father saved from a field. Cody's garage still features that '69 Charger as well as the additions of a '70 Coronet, '71 Charger R/T, '71 Road Runner, '04 SRT-4, '06 Grand Cherokee SRT8, '08 Challenger SRT8 and a '17 Ram 1500 Rebel. Cody can truly and proudly say him and his wife are true Mopar nuts in love with all types of Mopars!

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  1. Glenn Hayward 5 February, 2016 at 17:20 Reply

    Wow, quite a story that really hit home. When I was 14 years old growing up in Hamilton Ontario (1970) my uncle had a dark green 69 340 Swinger that I fell in love with. I swore that one day I would own one of these little giant killers! Three years later after working part time (40+ hrs a week, lol) pumping gas for $1.35 an hour I saved enough money to buy my dream car. On December 13, 1973 I paid $1,000 for a dark green, (black vinyl roof, black interior, black stripe) “69” 340 4 speed Swinger that I still have today 42 years later! Oh the memories! (pics available)

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