The Dodge GTS returned for model year 1969. With a total production of 6,285 units for the hardtop and 417 convertibles, it was the second largest number produced after the 1968. What reduced some of the GTS's numbers that year was the introduction of the 340 Swinger with a production total of 16,637. For 1969, the 340 returned as the standard powerplant ( 3645 made ) with the 383 optional ( 1912 made ) and also another late year introduction of the "M" code 440 ( 640 made )!! Along with its turquoise paint job, the 340 could keep pace with many of the big blocks of the era due to it's high powered 340, and it's reduced weight. The 383 and 440 car's performance was hampered by restrictive exhaust manifolds. It is not an easy fit in a A-body engine compartment. The feature of note for 1969 were the cast aluminum Kelsey Hayes "Recall Rims". Also, it was a year for federally mandated headrests and seat belt shoulder straps after the 1-1-69 production date. Before that, they were optional. This was the only year that Chrysler used side reflectors instead of newly mandated side marker lights!
3 "M" code 440 GTS's at the 2003 Mopar Nationals!
What's the big secret about the "M" code GTSport??? More questions seem to exist than answers surrounding this Dodge.
The GTS Registry will try to sort out the story behind the car. We will focus on the GTS "M" code for the most OBVIOUS reason here on the GTS Registry. It IS a GTS after all!! Hopefully after reading this section, we can provide some insight into the "M" code cars. Hopefully we can reverse the trend and provide more answers than questions!!
What is the "M" code: Myth? Rarity? Legend? Confusion? All four can describe the 1969 Dodge GTSport equipped with the optional 440 4bbl. engine. 1969 was the only year that Mopar officially offered the 440 in the both the GTS and the 'Cuda440.
These are not mythical cars built by the skunk works at Chrysler. They DID exist. Dodge produced 640 of the GTS variant, and Plymouth produced 340 of the 440'Cuda version. That makes them pretty rare by any standard. Legend has it that Mr. Norm's Grand-Spaulding Dodge had handbuilt the first couple of 1969 "M" codes. Legend has it that Hurst-Campbell built ALL the 1969 "M" code cars. "Legend" is wrong, and has lent confusion to the story behind the "M". But it is best to start at the beginning in 1967 to help clear up the events leading to 1969!
Yes, it is a documented fact that Mr. Norm dropped a 383 between the fenders of a 1967 Dart GT, drove it to Highland Park, MI, and showed it to the Chrysler engineering staff. Chrysler "saw the light" and started dropping 383 engines into the Dart GT and calling it the GTS. THAT is how we got the first "big block" in to a A-body Mopar. Mr. Norm was very pivotal in this development.
1968 saw the 383 offered as an option, along with the new 340, in the GTSport. But Mr. Norm wanted to push the performance envelope again. This time he wanted to try a 440 in place of the 383. Approximately 50 cars were built by Dodge. These were the first "M" codes. 1968 "M" codes! HOWEVER, it is not that simple. The 50 were all ordered by Grand-Spaulding. They were built minus engine, and shipped to Hurst-Campbell for fitment of the 440. Then they were shipped to Mr. Norm and these became the GSS. At this point, Mr. Norm would also add anything from his performance catalog to your brand new Dodge, as long as you were paying the price! It was thought that Grand-Spaulding dropped in the 440 into all 50 GSS cars. Not a logistical possibility. At that time, Grand-Spaulding was operating out of a converted gas station with rented buildings and parking lots in the surrounding area to house his bustling new car business. Don't forget his "Dyno Tuning" tune up business was flourishing at that time as well!! Not much room to dedicate to 50 cars needing engine transplants and finishing.
Grand Spaulding Dodge did indeed order 20 factory built 440 GTS's from the CO1 batch for his dealership. This may be another reason for the belief that "all" 440 M codes rolled thru Grand Spaulding Dodge.
With that heritage, we can see why the story behind the "factory" 1969 cars becomes confused with the facts of the 1967-1968 cars.
The 1969 GTSports with the 440 came off the factory assembly line in Hamtramck, Michigan as sort of a "mid-year introduction". Sounds simple, right? There were special things that transpired in the creation with these cars. The paperwork and invoices for the earlier cars showed a "H" in the vehicles VIN. Also, the fender tag had "E63". Both the "H" and "E63" signified a 383! Ah, more confusion. But interesting enough, the vehicles regular VIN tag indicated the "M" instead of the invoice's "H". Also, the fender tag (and invoice) indicated "Y39" which stands for "Special Order" and indicates the 440-4 for the A-body. The "Y39" also superceded the "E63" on the fender tag. To add further to the confusion, the "Y39" was replaced with �A13� for the March 2 built batch. See invoice and corresponding fender tag below.
Even the cosmetic difference included the "383" being superceded by a "440"! According to YearOne, the cars were delivered with "440 Four Barrel" decals in the glove compartment to be placed OVER the factory "383 Four Barrel" call-out!! Also, they were ALL equipped with a console shifted TorqueFlite727 (save the room under the hood that would be needed for the four speed linkage), and power brakes and A/C were also not available.
Now, as for the production methods, they were pretty standard for the day, but still had some special handling involved. As these were A-bodies, the "line" was probably not equipped to install 440 engines into the cars, as these were not "standard" (or normal?) on the A-body line. This lead to the cars being produced in "batches". They started with a Order Sequence Number of 900900 for the GTS and ended with 902_ _ _. The 440 'Cudas had Sequence Numbers starting at 920_ _ _. However, even though all the Sequence Numbers were in numerical order, the VIN was in order with overall Dodge production for the Hamtramck plant. Seven (7) batches of GTSs were built, with three (3) batches for the 440 'Cuda. See chart for Scheduled Production Dates.
|440 GTS||'Cuda 440||Schedule Production Dates|
|C01||C01||Sunday December 1, 1968|
|114||- -||Tuesday January 14, 1969|
|131||- -||Friday January 31, 1969|
|212||- -||Wednesday February 12, 1969|
|214||- -||Friday February 14, 1969|
|- -||302||Sunday March 2, 1969|
|329||- -||Saturday March 29, 1969|
|427||- -||Sunday April 27, 1969|
|- -||518||Sunday May 18, 1969|
It was first thought that ALL of these cars came off the line like the 1968 GSS cars-minus engine and trans. Then they were shipped to Hurst-Campbell for the 440. This evidently did NOT happen! In Hurst production "biographies", they list all sorts of the vehicles that were modified/finished by Hurst. From the 1968 Hemi S/S Darts and Barracudas, to the S/C Rambler390, the Hurst/Olds, and even a Hurst Jeepster!! They even modified a run of 1500 Belvederes for taxi cab use in New York city by dropping the floor pan a 1 1/2"!. But there is NO MENTION of the 1969 440 GTS/'Cuda in this book at all.
The 440 GTS was not distinguished externally from the other GTSs of that year, except by the small "440 Four Barrel" engine call-out for the hood bulge. It was thought that the "M" codes were all pulled off the main line to a secondary line for finishing. Similar to what the A12 1969 1/2 440-6pk cars with lift off hoods might have had at the Lynch Road plant. But the A12 cars HAD special engines (the GTS 440 was just a regular 440) with magnafluxed and shot-peened parts and practically hand built engines topped off with the 3 Holley carbs. Not to mention the fitting of the fiberglass lift-off hoods. The GTS and 'Cuda looked like every other GTS and 'Cuda on the road. Why would Chrysler invest that time and money into that process??? This would not make sense from a business stand point. Not glamorous, not extraordinary, but sure held some hot surprises for the other musclecars of that era!!!
So there is no myth surrounding the 1969 "M" code GTS. They were built on the regular line. No magical elves hammering away at them in the bowels of Chrysler Engineering. Rare?? You bet. Remember, only 640 were built. We have barely over 20 listed in the GTS Registry. Legendary?? Yes. How else would you describe a 375hp bolted into a 3400lb package??? Heh, heh, heh.....can you say "straight-line performance"?? You probably still hear stories about a big block GTS from "back in the day". Confusion?? Hopefully this clears away some of the fog of time from the history of the 1969 "M" code cars! We hope this brief description helps answer some of the long-standing questions involving the production of the 1969 "M" code GTS.
I would like to THANK the following people for their input in putting together the facts about the "M" code GTS cars. Brian and Paul Schaefer (GTS#160), and Ralph and Susan Perry (GTS#274) for sharing their documents, invoices, and magazine articles (MoparMuscle-1992). Darryl Dayton for his historical references and for being in the right place at the right time- i.e. Chicago area new car sales for Dodge. Kevin Moore, Parts Manager for Monicatti Chrysler-Jeep for defining the obvious and answering questions. Conley Wright for his list of "M" codes that he has accumulated over the past few years. Conley even sent some Barracuda VIN's!!
I will list the registered "M" code GTS below in a special section to just highlight that model, and to allow quick reference for these cars. They will still be listed in their proper order in the 1969 GTS Registry above to keep them in sequence with the regular VIN numerical order. Also, in-between the full "M" codes from the GTS Registry, you will see some VINs (without a GTS Member#) with no more info than possibly the color and Vehicle Order Number (VON). These were provided by Conley Wright and I have incorporated his list the GTS Registry's "M" code list. I will also show the 440 'Cuda VINs (following the 440 GTS list) that Conley forwared to the GTS Registry
If you own a 440 GTS that is Registered with the GTS Registry, and can share any info, please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I tried to contact a number of the current registered "M" code owners, but almost all came back with invalid email addresses. You can also send any insights to help further explain the "M" code process. I would like to hear from you.
We're all in this together, so it is in the best interest of the GTS owners that we can share this information!!!
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