Drag-On-Lady Recommends Go Fast Parts for ’69 Dart Swinger 340


The all-new for ’69 Dodge Dart Swinger 340 was a potent package with an affordable price tag. In the December magazine, the editors of Super Stock and Drag Illustrated (SS&DI) put together a Holiday Buyer’s Guide for parts to improve on the factory pieces.

In 1969, Dodge dropped the two-door Dart sedan and replaced it with the sportier Swinger two-door hardtop. The Swinger was a great commuter car with its Slant 6 or 318, but if more power was desired, sitting down with a salesperson and checking off the correct options resulted in a high-revving, conservatively-rated 275-horsepower Swinger 340. The potent mill proved to be a great fit with the light, well-balanced, and agile Mopar A-body.

If a Dodge 340 wasn’t your cup of tea, SS&DI worked with Super Stock and Pro Stock driver Arlen Vanke to build a similar 340 Barracuda. The Barracuda, along with Vanke, garnered the SS&DI December 1969 cover.

With an affordable monthly payment ironed out, any leftover money often went to components that would increase the Swinger’s performance or upgrade its street appearance. In December 1969, the editors of Super Stock and Drag Illustrated (SS&DI) Magazine sat down with Dodge Super Stock drag racer “Drag-On Lady” Shirley Shahan to discuss which go-fast and shiny parts she and H.L. (her husband) would add to the Swinger 340. Their parts list was itemized in the SS&DI Holiday Buyer’s Guide ad.

An abbreviated list of the Shahan’s recommended components started with a 1969 Swinger 340 equipped with a heavy-duty suspension, a 727 Torqueflite automatic transmission, a 4.10:1 geared 8 ¾-inch rear end, power disc brakes, and E70-14 tires. For firmer, more positive street and strip shifts, the Shahan’s suggested a B&M Torkflite transmission.

To stir the transmission, nestling a Hurst dual-gate shifter between the seats would efficiently handle the shifting duties. Keeping any engine sealed is a significant priority, and a selection of Mr. Gasket engine and transmission gaskets ensured all the fluids stayed where they should. The use of a Milodon cool can guaranteed only liquid fuel reached the carburetor for maximum performance.

Although Shirley Shahan wheeled a ’68 Super Stock Dart, she had plenty of experience to make suggestions on what would wake up a ’69 Swinger 340. Shirley started racing in the 1950s, and before that, she crewed on her father’s race team. H.L. had vast experience in building and tuning race engines, which also made him an excellent source of knowledge. (Photo: The Enthusiast Network via Getty Images)

Adding some bling to the Swinger, the Shahan’s suggested a pair of Mickey Thompson rocker arm covers in place of the stamped-steel valve covers. A set of small-bolt pattern Cragar 8000-series wheels could replace the steel wheels and hub caps. However, SS&DI advocated Rocket Wheels instead of the Cragars. Regardless, the wheels would deliver a race-oriented look to the Swinger.  SS&DI added Mr. Gasket engine paint options and a velocity stack to replace the unsilenced air filter housing. For all the components recommended and a 1969 price list, check out the attached magazine ad.

Why would SS&DI seek the Shahan’s opinions on how to improve the Swinger 340? Both Shirley and H.L. were more than qualified. As a pre-teen daughter of a racer, Shirley began working as a “crew member” for her dad. Progressing from the crew to behind the wheel, she started street racing in the 1950s. Moving to the strip, she ran Chevrolets early on but switched to Plymouth before concluding her career with AMC.

H.L. was known for his engine building and tuning prowess, and he did all the engine work for Shirley and part-time for several other racers. By 1972, H.L. had garnered a full-time engine building job. With his reduced time to devote to their team, the “Drag-On Lady” team dissolved, ending Shirley’s driving career.

Although automotive technology has advanced dramatically in the last 52 years, wouldn’t it be challenging and fun (and probably expensive) to attempt to restore a ’69 Swinger 340 and then add the vintage speed parts listed in this Holiday Buyers guide?

Above left: SS&DI queried Dodge Super Stock driver Shirley and, husband, H.L. Shahan about what parts they would recommend to make the Dart the most comfortable, quickest, safest, and prettiest. Above center: While the concept of adding parts to the Dart was all on paper, the SS&DI editors and the Shahans were serious about what would work. They recommended twenty-two well thought out components they agreed would improve the Swinger 340. Above right: Fifty-two years after the “build on paper,” many of the recommended parts manufacturers are still in business. Companies like B&M, Champion, Cragar, Fram, Hurst, Mr. Gasket, and Moroso withstood the hand of time, although many changed owners (parent companies).

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Chris Holley

Chris Holley

Technical Contributor Chris has been a college professor for 23 years; the last 18 spent at Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, PA. During the day Chris instructs automotive HVAC and electrical/electronic classes, and high-performance classes, which includes the usage of a chassis dyno, flow benches, and various machining equipment at night. Chris owns a '67 Dart, a '75 Dart, a '06 Charger, a '12 Cummins turbo diesel Ram, and he is a multi-time track champion (drag racing) with his '69 340 Dart, which he has owned 32 years.

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    Wes 22 January, 2021 at 18:01 Reply

    I love the dart swinger 340. It was fast as a big block car of any make I know this for a fact. I beat many 396 chevelle’s camaro’s

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