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Could This Barn-Find 1971 Dodge Dart Swinger be one of the Ultrarare 340 Models?

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 11/13/2018 Hot Rod Network Staff
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We went along on this barn find in search of a muscle car. Here's what we found.

"I never looked to see what it really was," Bill Butler said as we moved closer to an old tin shed. Inside was a 1970 or 1971 Dodge Dart that he had dragged from a tenant's parking lot 10 to 15 years ago in West Texas.

Truth being stranger than fiction, Butler was about to pull a barn find out of a barn that belonged to him. The vehicle would prove to be a surprise in more ways than one.

He pried the shed door open, and we pushed our way into the small space to see dust covering what looked like, at first glance, either a Dodge or Plymouth A-Body.

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"The people rented the body shop. This car was in that body shop. They closed down, left town, and left this car outside in the parking lot." Butler had expected the owner to retrieve the vehicle one day. But days turned into a year, then two, then five. The car deteriorated, mostly due to people scavenging parts off what looked like an abandoned car. Finally, Butler had dragged the car to this tin shed on his property, "to get it out of sight" of thieves.

"It's a rough, thrown-together tin barn, or shed, and not a very good shed. It kept the hail and rain off, but didn't keep the dirt off."

Dirt was thick. The old tin barn had acted as a filter to deposit a fine layer of dust on the old Dart. Butler had never even opened the hood to check out the engine, which we were about to do.

"Since I didn't have a title, there was no reason to. It wasn't mine."

After the car's decade or so of storage, Butler went through the long process to claim it and get a title in his name.

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"Now, I'm going to open the door and see what I got. It's almost the same as a barn find, like finding a new toy," he said.

Under the hood was a small-block V-8 with a four-barrel, which looked 100 percent stock other than the missing air cleaner. It had obviously been stolen while the car waited five years in the parking lot for an owner who never showed. Was this a high-performance 340?

Butler dragged the car back to his shop and pressure-washed the body and engine. He was delighted to find a rust-free 1971 Dodge Dart—a Swinger—with original orange paint. Now, where was that engine code?

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