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The 1972 Dodge Dart, Demon, and Swinger (Valiant, Duster, and Scamp were similar)

1972 dart

The 1972 Dodge Dart brought a large number of changes to the third-generation A-body, especially considering the neglect it would suffer as the corporation built up to the fourth generation (which would have a marketing-driven name and body-code change).  The 1972 updates were both functional and cosmetic; the cosmetic changes included:

dodge demonChanges for safety included brighter backup lights, strengthened seat tracks, and a new gas cap that prevented pressure build-up.

Comfort and convenience features included a new shift linkage for the column-mounted manual shifter (to reduce vibration), a new FM radio option, an optional inside hood release, and a new, one-hand seat-back release for buckets.

For the powertrain, automatic transmissions got smoother and quieter due to a new machining technique for pinion gears; the Chrysler alternator was revised for better performance and longevity; circuit protection in the engine bay was improved; the battery was given a quick disconnect to make service easier; the vapor saver was improved by adding an overfill limiting valve and charcoal canister (whicih improved idle and hot-start performance); the 340 carb was altered to provide better cold weather starting and burn leaner (through better metering and agitation of air and fuel); electronic ignition became standard on the 340; all slant sixes were given hardened valve seats to make unleaded fuel viable; and a synthetic anti-scuff additive was put into the 340’s oil to prevent piston pin scuffing.

Less functional additions included an optional hood scoop for the Demon; new wheel cover and wheel; and that most ephemeral of features, a “standard litter container” (a plastic bag for garbage that hooked onto the door locks).

The 1972 Dart, Demon, and Swinger together sold more than 200,000 units, a phenomenal performance by modern American-car standards, but they were actually outsold by a good margin by their Plymouth equivalents, with well over 300,000 sales. Altogether, more than half a million A-bodies were sold in the United States alone, a number even the 21st Century Toyota would be happy with; and the A-bodies were also sold in various forms throughout the world, notably in South America and Australia.

The Scamp and Swinger were nearly identical, as were the Demon and Duster; the Dart still rode on a longer wheelbase than the Valiant, a practice that would end with the 1974 model year. The reason for the Demon, which was functionally so similar to the Swinger, was the phenomenal success of the Plymouth Duster, its counterpart; but the naming, apparently done so Dodge dealers could say “Come in for a Demon-stration,” backfired as conservative groups in the South protested (for religious reasons), and did not last. The Plymouth Duster sales were absolutely tremendous, but the Demon, despite its nearly identical appearance from behind (and its own cartoon character), failed to make much impact on sales.

dodge dart cars 1972

1972 Dart engines

The 198 cid slant six was standard on all models; a stroked version, the 225, was optional. Features included heater inlet air system, faster-acting choke, and induction hardened exhaust valve seats for greater wear resistance. To equalize fuel distribution and minimize back pressure and power loss, there is an intake and an exhaust passage for each cylinder. A single-barrel carb was used.

1972 dodge dart dashboardThe 318 V8 was the standard V8. Hydraulic tappets reduced valve-train noise and did away with periodic tappet adjustments. Features included a single-level intake manifold, heated air inlet system, faster-acting choke, cast ­steel crankshaft, wedge-type combustion chambers, new pistons to reduce the compression ratio and hydrocarbon emissions, and a two­barrel carburetor.

The 340, used only on Demon 340, had a forged crankshaft, double-roller timing chain and sprockets, electronic Ignition, four-barrel Thermoquad carburetor, dual exhaust system, heated air inlet system, unsilenced air cleaner, and special camshaft.

Automatic transmission gearing was identical for the 198 and 225; the sixes, the 318, and the 340 all had different gearing. A console mount was available with bucket seats and consoles; otherwise they were column mounted, as were the standard three-speed manuals. There were also floor-mounted three-speed and four-speed manuals; the four speed was only available in Demon 340.

1972 Dodge Dart engine lineup

Slant Six (198 standard, 225 optional): standard on Dart Custom, Swinger, Demon, and Dart. Heater inlet air system. Faster acting choke. To equalize fuel distribution and minimize back pressure and power loss, there is an intake and an exhaust passage for each cylinder. Induction hardened exhaust valve seats for greater wear resistance. Single exhaust system. One-barrel carburetor.

318 V-8: standard on all V8 models; optional otherwise. Hydraulic tappets reduce valve-train noise and do away with periodic tappet adjustments. Single-level intake manifold. Heated air inlet system. Faster-acting choke. Cast steel crankshaft. Wedge-type combustion chambers. New pistons to reduce compression ratio and hydrocarbon emissions. Two barrel carburetor. Single exhaust system.

340 V-8: Only available as the sole engine of the Demon 340. Forged crankshaft. Double-roller timing chain and sprockets. Electronic Ignition. Four-barrel thermoquad carburetor. Dual exhaust system. Heated air inlet system. Unsilenced air cleaner. Special camshaft. Air conditioning and power steering are available with this engine.

Transmissions

A surprising number  of transmission options were available (especially compared with today’s cars that offer a choice of, at best, manual and automatic.) The column-mounted Torque-Flite three-speed automatic was optional on all models, with a differently tuned version available for each of the four engines.   A console shift version of the TorqueFlite, which required pressing a button to shift between neutral and park or reverse, or from Drive to lower gears, was also available on models with the optional buckets or console.

The three-speed column-mounted manually remained, with a version for the slant six and a fully synchronized version for V8s. This was standard for everything but the Demon 340, with a floor-mounted, fully synchronized three-speed shifter optional on other models (and standard on Demon 340). A four-on-the-floor with Hurst shifter and reverse warning light was only available as an option in the Demon 340.

Front disc brakes (with rear drums) were optional on all models. Brake linings were bonded for more lining area and longer lining life (no need for rivet-holes); police cars got bonded and riveted pads. There were two master cylinders in the same housing, one for the front brakes and one for the rear; each used separate hydraulic lines. In case of damage to one line, the remaining ones could stop the car. Low brake pressure lit a lamp (also used to show the parking brake was on).

Some of the Dart options

The Dart Light Package included a trunk light, map and courtesy light, glove box light, ignition light with time delay, ashtray light, and fender-mounted turnsignal indicators.  The exterior decor group was a bright drip rail molding, grille surround molding, and wheel lip moldings (optional on Demon, Dart sedan, and Dart Swinger Special).

sunroof   air conditioning

Also available were the Sure-Grip differential, hood scoops (Dart, Demon, Demon 340), FM radio, a rear-window defogger (on all models), a manually operated, soft folding sunroof (on the Dart Demon and Demon 340), power steering (using a roller-type pump for greater pressures and more boost), variable-speed wipers, electric washers, tinted glass, and many other options including a variety of radios.

A new feature was the automatic transmission special on Dart Custom sedan and Swinger hardtop; it included power steering, the light package, AM radio, vinyl roof, white sidewalls, variable wipers and electric washer, bumper guards, remote left mirror, body side molding, rear deck lid lower molding, undercoating, hood pad, wheel covers, and, at no extra charge, the automatic transmission itself.

1972 Dodge Dart Specifications and Other Details

  Coupe Hardtop Sedan slant six
Doors 2 2 4
Wheelbase 108.0" 111.0" 111.0"
Length 192.5" 196.2" 196.2"
Width 71.7" 69.6" 69.6"
Height 53.0" 52.6" 54.0"
Track-Front 57.5" 57.4" 57.4"
-Rear 55.6" 55.6" 55.6"
Headroom-Front 37.5" 37.6" 38.7"
-Rear 36.5" 36.7" 37.3"
Legroom-Front 41.5" 41.5" 41.5"
-Rear 29.9" 31.9" 35.9"'
Shoulder Room - Front 55.4" 55.4" 55.4"
-Rear 55.1 " 55.2" 55.5"
AXLE RATIOS Six cylinder 318 340
Manual 3.23:1 3.23:1* 3.23:1*
Automatic (Standard) 2.76:1 2.76:1** 3.23:1
Automatic (Optional) 3.23 or 3.55 3.23 or 3.55  

Instrument panel: The dashboard would remain almost identical from 1972 through to the end in 1976. The padded dash was nonreflecting, and on Dart and Demon had (poorly) simulated woodgrain; on Dart Custom and Dart Swinger models the simulated woodgrain extended the full width of the dash (optional on other models). There were needle gauges for temperature, alternator and fuel. The radios used knobs for on/off/volume, tuning, and tone.  A fresh air hot-water heating / defrosting system was standard.

Telling the models apart

DART CUSTOM 4-DOOR SEDAN

DART SWINGER 2-DOOR HARDTOP

DART DEMON 340

DODGE DEMON

DART SWINGER SPECIAL

DART 4-DOOR SEDAN

1972 Dodge Dart specifications

Air Cleaner: Heavy-duty, micronic, replaceable-element dry type. Unsilenced on 340 4-bbl.

Axle Assembly, Rear-Semifloating flanged axle with 30 rolled splines on axle shaft. Hypoid gears, 2-pinion differential (4-pinion with Sure-Grip).

* 3.55:1 with Sure-Grip and three-speed manual, or with Sure-Grip and four-speed manual and 340.
** 3.23:1 with SureGrip

Bearings, Wheel - Tapered-roller front wheels, ball bearing rear wheels.

Camshaft Drive-Nylon-coated aluminum gear on 6cyl. and 318 V-8, cast-iron gear on 340 V8, silentchain drive; 340 V-8 double roller chain.

Choke, Automatic-Controlled by engine temperature, carburetor air velocity and vacuum diaphragm. Heatsensing coil is recessed in exhaust manifold on 6-cyl. engines, located in exhaust crossover on V8s.

Circuit Breakers-Circuit breakers keep vital electrical units operating even when intermittent "shorting" occurs; they protect headlights, headlight beam indicator, and windshield wipers. Fusible safety link between battery and ammeter protects main electrical circuits.

Clutch - Outside diameter: 198 Six and 225 Six, 9.25"; 10.5" on 318; 10.5" H.D. on 340 V8. Release bearing is permanently lubricated ball bearing.

Combustion Chambers-V-8, wedge high-turbulence design; 6-cyl., modified-wedge design.

Crankcase Ventilation - Closed-circuit, crankcase ventilation system is standard on all models. Crankcase vapors are routed to the combustion chambers through a self-cleaning ventilator valve located in the valve cover. Vapors are burned before being expelled into the air through the exhaust system.

Crankshaft-Drop-forged steel, statically and dynamically balanced. Large overlaps between connectingrod and main bearing journals for increased strength and freedom from vibration.

Drive Shaft-Tubular steel, dynamically balanced.

Electrical-Alternator, 12-volt, 34-ampere with 6-cyl.; 12-volt, 41-ampere with V-8.  Battery, 12-volt, 46-ampere-hour capacity.

Electronic Ignition-Used on 340 V-8.

Exhaust System-Single exhaust with aluminized mufflers and tail pipes on 6-cyl. and 318 V-8, dual w/340 4-bbl.

Exhaust Valves-Induction-hardened exhaust valve seats on 6-cylinder engines to provide capability of using lead-free gasoline.

Fan, Engine-Six cyl.: 17" dia. 4 blades; 18" dia., 7 blades with 318 and 340.

Filter, Fuel-Two filters with all engines. Woven plastic 40-micron filter in gas tank. 15-micron filter between fuel pump and carburetor.

Filter, TorqueFlite Transmission Oil-Full-flow internally mounted provides 100% filtration of all oil.  Chrysler wrote: “Under normal driving conditions, transmission oil and filter should not require changing.” After 35 years, we suspect it’s time if you haven’t done it yet.

Fuel Tank Capacity-16 gallons.

Glass -Windshield: Laminated single curved safety plate. Rear window: Single curved heat-treated safety sheet. Side windows: Curved heat-treated safety sheet.

Headlamps, Single-12-volt, sealed-beam, glare-protected; 7" lenses.

Ignition System-12-volt, weather-resistant, with automatic distributor spark advance and ventilated contact points.

Lubrication System-Positive-pressure, regulated and filtered. Normal pressure, all engines; 45-65 p.s.i. @ 2000 r.p.m. Oil cap., all engines: 4 qts.; when changing filter, add one extra quart.

Lubrication, Suspension and Steering - Four front suspension ball joints require lubrication at 36,000mile or 3-year intervals, the only lube points in the suspension system. Steering linkage joints are lubricated and permanently sealed at the factory.

Muffler, Exhaust-Sixes and V-8's: Aluminized, reverse-flow, 3-pass, asbestos-wrapped. Muffler and tail pipe are aluminized, inside and out.

Piston Pins-High-manganese steel. V8: floating type with steel-backed bronze bushing in connecting rod. Sixes: press-fit in rod.

Piston Rings-V-8 and 6-cyl. engines: 2 compression rings, top ring tin-plated; lower ring lubrite-coated; 1 three-piece oil ring-two chrome-plated steel rails with flexible spacer.

Pistons - V8 engines: lightweight aluminum alloy, elliptically turned, tin-plated, steel-band thermal control, horizontal slot. 6-cyl.: lightweight aluminum alloy, elliptically turned, tin-plated slipper type. Steelstrut thermal control.

Plugs, Spark-14 mm. with deep rubber-cap moisture seals and resistor cables.

Pump, Oil, Engine-Rotary-type, positive displacement pump.

Pump, Water-Centrifugal-type, sealed ball bearing. No lubrication required.

Safety-Rim Wheels-Two tire-retaining beads on rim for protection in case of a blow-out.

Seat Adjustment, Front - Manual, two-way. Adjustment limit: 4.5" front-to-rear with 1.2" rise.

Shock Absorbers - Hydraulic, double acting, telescopic, compensate to varying road conditions.

Starter - Reduction gear, high torque, low current draw. Solenoid shift for positive engagement-starter gear remains engaged with engine flywheel until ignition key is released.

Steering, Manual-Low friction, recirculating ball-nut gear. Symmetrical idler-arm linkage with equal-length tie rods, low-friction ball joints. Gear ratio, 24.0 to 1. Overall ratio, 28.7 to 1. Number of steering wheel turns, full left to full right, 5.3-standard ratio.

Steering, Power - Gear ratio, 15.7 to 1. Overall ratio, 18 to 1. Number of steering wheel turns, full left to full right, 3.5.

Suspension-Front, Torsion bars. (0.83" dia. on Sixes, 0.85" dia. on 318 v-8.) Heavy-duty 0.87" dia.
-Rear. 55" leaf springs-198 6 cyl. 4 leaf; 225 6-cyl.; 318 V8 5 leaf; 340 V-8 6 leaf. -Sway bar, 0.88" dia. with Rallye suspension.

Transmission, Synchro-Silent 3-Speed Manual - 3speed, synchronous-meshing in 2nd and 3rd gears, with manual shift lever on steering column.

Transmission, Synchro-Silent 3-Speed Manual Floor Mounted-3-speed, synchronous-meshing in 1st, 2nd and 3rd gears.

Transmission, Synchro-Silent 4-speed Manual-Synchronized in all forward gears, with reverse warning light.

Transmission, TorqueFlite - 3-speed automatic with torque converter. Accelerator pedal kickdown control. Water-cooled. Maximum torque-converter ratio, 2.2 to 1. Planetary-gear ratios: first, 2.45 to 1; second, 1.45 to 1; reverse, 2.20 to 1. Maximum overall ratio, 5.39 to 1.

Turning Diameter (Curb to Curb) 37.6' (Demon); 38.5' (Dart).

Universal Joint, Drive Shaft-Front and rear, cross and roller.

Windshield Washers-Manual foot-operated dual jet nozzle. Electrically operated washer is optional.

Windshield Wipers, Electrlc- Two-speed, parallel action, electric. Wiper blade length, 15". Variable-speed wipers are optional.

Weight:

Slant Six

V8

Dart 2,940 3,035
Demon 2,885 2,975
Demon 340 - 3,210
Dart Custom 2,940 3,035
Dart Swinger 2920 3,015

Full list of 1972 changes (quoted from Dodge)

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