For Fred Bonadonna, his passion for Mopars goes way back to his early childhood. “I’ve loved cars since I was a baby. My aunt told my mother that I was going to be a car nut and man, was she right! When I saw my cousin’s brand new ’68 Dodge Charger R/T at the age of 13, I was hooked on Mopars from then on. On top of that, my father always bought big Chryslers. My passion for Mopars grew even more at the age of 15 when I returned home from visiting my aunt in New York City to find out that my father had bought a ’68 Charger R/T.
“I turned 16 a month later and I drove that car every chance I got. It actually got to a point where my father would ask when I got home if I had won or not. He knew exactly what I was doing with his car! I only lost once to another Mopar. My biggest regret is that I didn’t keep that car when he offered it to me. If I only knew then what I know now!” says Fred.
In 1974, Fred purchased his first muscle car; a ’70 Dart Swinger 340. Unfortunately, it was totaled in an accident shortly after he purchased it. With the ’70’s carcass gone to the wreckers, Fred picked up a ’69 Swinger 340 to replace it. After 2 years of driving it, Fred’s ’69 Swinger ended up sitting behind his house waiting to be restored. Fred tells us, “When I met my wife Cinda in 1990, she encouraged me to restore the ’69 finally but upon looking closer, we realized it was just too far gone. We decided to look for a ’70 Dart body because we both liked that body style better.”
While searching for a ’70 Dart to replace the rotten ’69, Fred and Cinda found a ‘73 Plymouth Scamp sitting behind a car dealer up on 55 gallon drums. The rear suspension on the Scamp was completely missing but the frame was solid. Fred admits that at first he really didn’t want it because it was not a Dart but Cinda talked him into it. “She said we were going to modify it anyway so why not make it look like a ’70 Dart Swinger. That’s when I knew she was a keeper (my wife, that is!). We paid $350 for the body. I had a friend pick it up from the dealer with his wrecker and it arrived in our yard in January of 1991; a month before we got married,” recalls Fred.
The car soon became a true family project; being put together in their backyard as the family didn’t have a garage. Fred tells us, “My wife, my two step kids and my son helped along with a couple friends. The car has parts from all of my previous Darts as well as quite a few other Mopars.” The Rallye dash and interior came from Fred’s first ’70 Swinger 340 that was written off and the ’69 Swinger 340 donated the rear leaf springs and the 4 speed hump to convert the Scamp to a manual transmission. A ’69 Road Runner donated a Dana 60 rear end with 4:10 gears that Fred says he moved around in his kid’s little red wagon! Parts were also sourced from various different Mopar yards in different states.
While the family project was completed in 1993, Fred tells us that over the years, there have been improvements made. “When the car was first painted, my wife and I took a few months to find an exact color that we wanted for the car. We both agreed that it had to be blue, our favorite color. What was amazing was how we found it. We were driving by a Dodge dealership in a near-by town, when we spotted a brand new 1990’s Daytona in the showroom. We both saw it at the same time and knew we had found the color so we stopped and went in to see what the name of the color was; turns out it was Electric Blue”, says Fred.
He continues to say, “The first two times we had it painted over the years were decent driver quality paint jobs, but it just didn’t have the same pop that it had on that Daytona in the show room. In 2015, we asked a friend, Mike Salter to paint the car. He owns Mike’s Auto Body and has plenty of experience restoring classic cars so we had faith in his work. As we expected and hoped, he did a beautiful job. The paint job now grabs your attention just like the color we first saw.
The bumpers were painted to match the car and the white bumblebee stripe was painted on. In September 2017, my wife had the engine compartment pin striped by “Brian The Brush” for my birthday. Just this past May, we had “Brian The Brush” paint a mural on the hood scoop with the car’s name, “Obsession” on the sides. Don Hooker from Don’s Brush Art & Vinyl Effects did the lettering on the back bumper several years ago.”
While Fred’s car is still titled as a ’73 Scamp, it looks nothing like it’s previous self. During the original restoration to convert the car from a ’73 Scamp into a ’70 Dart, fiberglass ‘70 front fenders and a fiberglass hood were used along with new reproduction ’70 quarter panels. The doors were changed as well to have the proper vent windows you would find on a ’70 versus the full one piece door glass on the ’73.
Hella brand headlights and Digi-Tails LED tail lights do a fantastic job at giving the Dart a flash of brightness. Underneath, the chassis was totally rebuilt as well and features sub-frame connectors, John Calvert 90/10 front shocks, Summit adjustable rear shocks, Southside Machine Lift Bars, a Denny’s drive shaft and a drive shaft loop. The Dart rides on Weld Racing Zero Drag wheels (15×8 in the rear and 15×5 up front) wrapped in 245/60/15 and 165/80/15 tires.
Under the hood, you’ll find the 340 out of Fred’s old ’69 Swinger. The engine has been bored .030 over, balanced and blue printed. It was fitted with KB hypereutectic pistons, a Mopar Performance Purple camshaft, Edelbrock Performer RPM heads, a Moroso lifter valley oil baffle, Hughes roller rockers, hardened shafts and billet hold downs. Up top sits a Holley Strip Dominator intake and a Bigs Performance Stage V 750cfm double pumper carburetor. Giving the Dart spark is done by an MSD ignition and Fred installed a NOS brand nitrous system for an extra boost of power. Everything breathes through a pair of TTI headers that feed into a full 3″ exhaust system with Hooker Max Flo mufflers.
On the inside, Fred’s Dart was treated with a pair of Procar Sportsman Racing seats and a new headliner. Everything else as previously mentioned came from Fred’s original wrecked ’70 Swinger 340. The interior also features a Kenwood Stereo with Kicker speakers, Stewart Warner gauges and an AutoMeter tach and fuel pressure gauge. Shifting is done through a Mr. Gasket Vertical gate shifter that is mated to the 4 speed transmission. On the glove box trim panel, there is a Scat Pack Bee that was beautifully hand-painted on by Cinda.
“Since the car has been completed, it has been in three different weddings. The first was my step daughter’s best friend. She had a picture of the car in her locker at school because she loved the car so we gladly included it in her wedding. Next was my step daughter and then my step son. We were even asked to drive a couple to their prom one year also. We definitely love driving it and really enjoy the car, ” says Fred in closing.