Six years should be long enough...



Well-Known Member
May 29, 2017
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Harrisburg, PA
As implied, six years have passed since I have made any progress on a project that was started in this thread:
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Short story long, the car I was trying to save was too far gone and became a parts car.
What's left of the driver's side A pillar and rocker panel. Passenger side wasn't much better.

The lack of salvageable material in upper control arm mounts are where I decided this was a lost cause.


This thing is more rust than it was metal.


I kept what I could use and sold what was left. This is not the end of this project. I continued collecting parts until I had something better to start with.




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I remember living in WI. Salt just ate cars. One of the reasons I moved west. Much respect to those that deal with rust on this level.
I was able to find a stripped out shell that was much better condition than what I had, or so I thought. More on that later.

One of the things that I failed to notice was the front inner fenders had been cut for some reason.
That is a Magnum motor peeking out of there, but it's not the 1992 B250 van engine I was originally planning on using. It's from a '94 Dakota and has a Comp Cam with .484 of lift, a Hughes dual plane intake that could be ran carbed or fuel injected, and a set of shorty headers. I pretty much cannibalized the entire truck for its drive train and wiring harness.



Found a set of 17" steel wheels with new tires fairly cheap. Not crazy about the moon hub caps, though.

Also picked up Ford 8.8 with 3.73 gears and limited slip.

Most of the original Dart went into the basement to never see the light of day again.


Found a Grant Tuff Wheel that's similar to the Rallye Wheel for less money than a 50 year old original Rallye Wheel.

More to follow. I'm condensing the last six years of gathering parts.
I agree, unless you have deep pockets, that is looking like a parts car. There is alot of good money from what I see there.

You had fun though, didn’t you?
And you learned alot right?

When you start drilling out spot welds to sell structural, you will learn more.

I have no regrets with any of mine.
I agree, unless you have deep pockets, that is looking like a parts car. There is alot of good money from what I see there.

You had fun though, didn’t you?
And you learned alot right?

When you start drilling out spot welds to sell structural, you will learn more.

I have no regrets with any of mine.
I didn't trust my welds in critical structural areas with as much rust as what this car had. You know as well as I do that when you start cutting out rust, there will be more to replace than what you thought.
Yeah, I had fun with car. And in the process of parting it out I got to talk to guys about their projects and experiences.
More pictures of the Dakota engine. It cleaned up decent.


More Old Parts and Rust, or something like that.

New adjustable strut rods.

Classic Car Performance makes a full retro fitted tank for running EFI. It has a sump area for the high pressure pump and is recessed on the top for the pump and sending unit so no cutting of the truck is required. And it comes enough fuel line for the supply and return, fittings, pump and pressure regulator, and a new sending unit.

After buying everything with plans to build a car out of, I found some questionable work was done to the shell that bought to replace the original Dart with.

I could deal with the filler neck filled in and the wheel openings being replaced. It was the fact they cut out the inner fenders, leaving the structure of the C pillar to hang out without much support.

So I did what anyone else would do, buried it with tools and parts to be forgotten about.


Fast forward to August of this year. While my wife and I were on a short vacation, I figured I would ruin it by looking at cars. I had been looking for a complete car that didn't need much body work, or a full on restoration like what mine needed.
I found a 1971 Dart Swinger in Washington Court House, OH that had a cheap paint job but looked solid. I wanted to see it in person because I was worried that paint job was hiding something.



Turned out to be a pretty solid car that wasn't made of Bondo.


I haven't seen floors this solid since I left the South. Yellow is obviously not the original color, but I can live with it.


It has a 318 with the standard "go fast" parts and a 904. It idled like it had a rowdy cam, but it wouldn't rev up. More on that later.
Had to wait a week after buying to bring it home, since we bought on a Sunday with no plan in advance to bring it home. That was the longest week of my life.
We made the trip from Harrisburg, PA to the middle of Ohio over a weekend. The 1,000 mile roundtrip was rough on us but we made it.
First order of business was to get it on jack stands and lower neighborhood property values.

It looks like the 7.25 rear end had taken a beating. Good thing I already have a replacement.

The lack of severe rust was worth the price of admission. Not much to do other than clean it up and paint.



Started cutting all the original brackets off the Explorer 8.8.


For future reference, the big rubber isolator bolted to the right side of the housing is needed to take vibration out at high speed.

Got a little carried away with the torch and got into axle tube. Ill fill it in before i weld the new spring perches on.
The next updates will be the actual engine swap since this is a Magnum swap section. I can post everything else in another thread.
I have to move stuff around in my way too small garage and get the parts car out before I can get started. I would like to test run the Dakota Magnum engine before putting it in my car. When I bought the Dakota, I stripped it in my friend's shop and didn't have time to get it running right. After pulling it I found the crank position sensor was broken and taped back together. I'm sure that and the exhaust system that was about to fall off were the reason it could barely idle, wouldn't rev up without back firing, and was extremely rich. Worst case scenario, I could test run it with my car's carburetor and distributor if there's something else going on with the fuel injection.
I do have a question about headers. Has anyone ran the Ram/Dakota shorty headers? I'm wondering how well they will clear the steering column becauseof how far out some of the tubes are bent. I have read about guys getting the factory Magnum exhaust manifolds to fit. My car has long tubes on it, and they hang down lower than what I like. Plus it makes working on anything around them that much harder.

The engine is sitting on a car dolly in the parts car that doesn't have a K member or steering.

The tube for #7 is what I'm worried about.
Your mention of the crank sensor reminded me that you can modify it to get a bit more timing. This idea going around the Ram and Dakota forums around 20 years ago:

Your timing is set initially by the crankshaft sensor and the distributor has the camshaft sensor in it to determine when the injectors fire relative to the amount of valve opening. So moving the distributor does not affect base timing. But moving the crankshaft sensor relative to it's current position does. The trick is this, and takes about one hour. This will work on any Dodge truck 92- to present except for the 4.7L or the V-10.

Remove the crankshaft sensor on the aft/passenger side of the block. It is held down by (2) 1/2" bolts and pulls out of the tranny bell housing when loose. There is a rubber grommet in the bell housing also, remove it. Now look at the sensor's bracket, notice the 2 bolt holes. Slot each hole so as to provide maximum in the direction of the oil filter. Then insert the sensor back into the bell housing, making sure you pulled out the rubber grommet. Thread the 2 bolts back in loose, then slide the sensor as far as it can, towards the oil filter, away from the intake. This will advance the timing. It will usually be limited by the bell housing how far you can move it. If you are really brave, grind the bell housing and fab a new adjustable bracket. This will add 3-4 degrees of timing across the whole board of advance tables, and cure the Death Flash problem in your Magnum.

That writeup is from this post, but there are many others out there: Crank sensor mod

These EFI Magnum engines are known for needing more timing, so apparently it helps. For clarity, my PCM is tuned so I have never done the mod myself.
Finally made some progress pulling the 318 that was in my car.


No matter how careful I am, I manage to make a mess.

She's in there like swim wear.

I know the electric fuel pump needs to be close to the gas tank. This is set up to test run it.

These headers fought me every step of the way.


They make for fun starter changes.


I'm using the 904 for now, with the Magnum flex plate. It rubbed the dust cover, as can be seen here.

There's your problem. Made some noise, too.
Video of it running. In the first seconds of the video, you can hear it misfire out the exhaust. The distributor and carb were on the original 318 and didn't do that before.
If anyone is wanting to remove the power steering pump from a Magnum and still use the factory brackets and serpentine belt, it can be done with some research. 90's Dakotas could be ordered without power steering and air conditioning. There is a part number for that belt, but it was discontinued by Chrysler. Continental makes one that interchanges with the Chrysler part number for almost $70. I cross referenced the numbers and found one at Autozone for $25. 763K7/7PK1940. I think it was 1/2" longer, but it fits perfectly. I haven't ran the engine since putting the belt on it, but it looks like it will work just fine.



I also started swapping out the Dart's original harness for the Dakota's. The bulkhead connector the same shape as the Dart's, butis a 1/4" smaller in height and width. It fit snug turned vertically, as can be seen here, but left gaps that weren't covered by the engine side harness grommet.

Body side of the Dakota's harness connected. I plan on routing it roughly where the Dart's harness was and changing connections to match the original switches. I know could have put the Dakota's steering column in to make life easier, but it would have looked out of place.

Dakota rear harness ready to go in.

Took the back seat out to route the "new" harness. I'll have to extend the fuel pump and sending unit wires to reach.
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Hooked up enough of the harness to make it run.

The vacuum leak is from using bolts to plug hoses. Not sure why it's missing when revved.