Like plenty of other budget-minded cars of the era, the Duster has been dismissed by many collectors who demand only the meanest muscle cars. It may be time for Dusters to shine, as enthusiasts new to early-'70s cars are beginning to recognize their appeal.
Read the full article on Hagerty.com: https://www.hagerty.com/media/buying-and-selling/the-plymouth-duster-is-mopars-under-appreciated-min...
These cars, in 340 or 360 form, were often giant-killers. Astute enthusiast and drag-racers knew that then, but apparently today's collectors may not be as aware of their history - or their abilities.
These are attractive, but I always preferred the Dart/Scamp two-door bodies. Unfortunately, once the Demon debuted, the Swinger 340 was no longer available.
I never owned one of these Dusters, or the ones from the 1980's. However, my 1992 Duster hatchback was quite the fun little car, very lively with its 3.0 V6, and light weight.
Back in the 70's I rode in a "feather duster", an aluminum-bodied (as I was told) version of the Duster. It lived at a junkyard body shop where I am sure the body man knew what aluminum was. Anyone else heard of one of those? I think that Dodge also made a "Neon Lite" that was aluminum as well, but unconfirmed.
It wasn't aluminum. It was just devoid of anything that added weight, and aluminum was used for things like the intake, bumper brackets, and hood and trunk bracing. I think it MIGHT have accounted for somewhere between a 5 and 10 % decrease in weight. They were capable of 36 mpg though.
My first car in 1979 was a '70 Duster with the "Leaning Tower of Power". I managed to find one to restore 10 years ago it had a 383 shoehorned in the bay which is cool, a pain and scary all at once. Alas, in a moment of weakness I sold it 3 1/2 years ago.
As one of the lucky few that had a 70 340 Duster back in the day, I can attest to their legendary "giant killer" reputation. It literally dominated all comers whether big block or small block.
I took my drivers test in 1984 in my great grandma's Gold Duster. I thought she was going to let me buy it but at the last minute she decided she wanted to keep driving. I mean, she was only 89!!!!!!!
I’ve always liked the Duster, V-8’s particularly, even if they have been kind of low in the Mopar pecking order. I remember even seeing some back in the day solely badged as a Valiant, so not much respect there. They represent good value now. If only I can get past the stigma of Al Bundy’s car (although that was a Dart), and the old “is that a Hemi?” commercial where it is driving alongside a new Dodge Ram Hemi, and Of course even today, when it’s being featured in the Liberty Mutual Insurance 70’s-like commercial.
In 1974 I was finally able to buy my first car, I was still a teenager. I bought a 1970 Duster, slant 6 225 ci motor, 3 speed on the floor, with a 7 1/4 rear end and bench front seat. It was B5 Blue and beautiful. I paid $750.00 for it and thought it was a great car. I put headers on it, US Mag wheels, and air shocks to lift the back end. It looked great, like a muscle car should, but wasn't fast or a muscle car per se. I would have loved to have the 340 4 speed, but I bought what I could afford. I gave the car to my youngest brother when I could afford a "real" car, and he hot rodded it into the ground. He has another 70 Duster now and so do I. His is a 318 stroker'd to a (383?) and I have my 340 4 speed finally. He's still into the racing end of things, but I like the classic looks of the car. I got a numbers matching H Code and loving having a Duster again. It's still a giant killer and will never have to deal with smog emissions. It's cool that Mopars were so popular because you can still get parts for them. Thanks for the article.
Had a 1973 Duster with the Gold Duster package - fold down rear seat, vinyl roof, special stripes. Slant six with no A/C and no power brakes. Had it until 1986 and it was nearly trouble free. Chrysler made a big mistake by replacing the reliable Valiant/Dart with the trouble prone Volare/Reliant, a model that could have benefited from a little more development time.
Walter_mitty, the Feather Duster was not ALL aluminum, just the hood and trunk lid. I believe it was 200 lbs lighter overall. I had a '76 Dart Lite, which was the Dodge version, with a Slant Six and a 4-speed overdrive. 33 MPG at a time when mileage averages were at about an all-time low, and room for 5 people somewhat comfortably. (6 if someone didn't mind getting whacked on the kneecaps.) the first car I kept until it was paid for, and I had just turned the odometer over, and it was reading 600 miles when it was T-boned by a Vista Cruiser wagon.
Dad bought a '73 Duster brand new for $2700 as a second car in a growing family of budding baby boomers. Police car gold, cookie cutter hubcaps, am radio, 225 ci slant 6, 3-in-a-tree manual, no cigarette lighter since that was optional (a decision not appreciated by our Kent-smoking mother). Ventilation was via manually opened vent box doors in the footwells, no A/C for us. Vinyl bench seats - I think the only option on the car was the carpeting, such a splurge. But the Duster pulled it's weight and taught 5 kids how to drive a manual transmission without ever complaining - a solid machine from a simpler time.
Not by me... When I was a poor Sailor and needed another car for my family I purchased a Duster 340 (without even carpeting...) for about $2650 out the door in Oregon.
Relative good economy, great fun and loved the looks. I called it the "true" Barracuda for 1970 as the dash and most of the innards and all reflected what was in the year before. Loved the new 'Cuda and Challenger as well, but $500+ dollars more was $20% more for basically the "same" car and drivetrain. PLUS... that trunk! HA!
Unfortunately when I first started driving dusters like novas were largely POS beaters with 6 cylinders that people bought when they couldn't afford real muscle cars and that image is still stuck with me a little. All you need to do is add brown or puke green paint, a cracked interior with stuffing coming out, and armrest laying in the console, and some rust and i'm in nostalgia land
I’m a Pontiac man, but never turned up my nose at a Mopar, guy in my neighborhood had a brand new 72 340 Duster 4 speed car, hood was flat black said 340 Wedge on it, well around 1973 when I was 12, he had to be 18, his brother was 16, he pulled the 340, out of the Duster, and put it into his Mother’s 71 Satellite wagon, for his brother to drive, also pulled the Plymouth Rallye wheels, correct me if I’m wrong, and put those on the Satellite, even installed dual exhaust, and the 340 Duster? Well that got a 440 in it, with a lot of massages and I’m sure some cutting, and the hood locks on that flat black hood never were removed in public again, car was beautiful black w white bucket seat interior, Keystone classics, she was a terror
The owner of the pictured car must be a lifelong Ford or Chebby guy. They are the ones that had to use traction bars on their hopping rears. Mopar had the Super Stock suspension that included special springs, an elevated pinion snubber and shock springs. This set up would usually equate to an advantage of two car lengths out of the hole. Now, the single leaf springs and bars from Calvert work even better and weigh much less. Wanna consistently beat Fords and Chevys, do it right.
As another lucky Duster 340 owner from 1971, that little high winding small block crushed a lot of it competition (even big block Chevy, Fords and Mopars). A slightly tweaked 340 easily ran in the low 13’s and factory stock on poly glass Goodyear’s routinely ran low 14’s. I’ve been Privileged to own two 71 340’s and if you want bang for buck, find that A Body and go have some real fun.
My "wife to be" was driving a plum crazy 1970 Duster 340, that 1971 night that we first met. A two door coupe, automatic, power steering and dual Walker "blue bottle" mufflers. Loud enough that you had trouble talking to a front seat passenger. The Duster is long gone, but the wife is still ticking on all cylinders. I offered to find her a similar Duster; color and all. Her response was a very stern: NOT A CHANCE!
I wasn't going to jeopardize a long-lasting relationship, so I threw the thoughts aside.
She has allowed me to have an old classic, but she has emphatically reminded me: NO DUSTERS!
I wonder how many 340 Duster owners are still married to the same woman?
I had a '71 Duster with the ground shaking single barrel 225 slant six.
I put 270,000 miles on it and then sold it to a neighbour who drove it for several more years.
The only option it had was the automatic and AM radio.
It was a terrific car.
This story about Plymouth Dusters really hits home. I still own my first car. Ordered through the local dealer and picked up April 23/70. A '70 Plymouth Duster 340-4, 4-spd, 3:55 suregrip rear, Sassy Grass Green, AM radio, no p.s or p.b. It's had a "few" upgrades over these 50 plus years, but still looks stock, although it doesn't run stock. It was never stored, used every year. Looking aged (52,000 miles), it was reconditioned in 2007-2009 (engine rebuilt, paint, etc.). Using this car in 1970, I taught my girlfriend to drive a 4-speed. In 1973 were were married and used this toy in our wedding. Guys, we are still married. In 2003, our daughter was married and our son (best man) drove this car in her wedding. Oh yes, the Hooker headers were OPEN during both weddings. Well, she's got 60,000 miles now and had an unplanned rest this Covid year with only a couple hundred miles added. It has been a joy owning this little car and plan to have it around awhile. Who knows, our grandkids may need a "wedding" car.
I'll have to get some pic of the '71 my Stepdad and I built. It's a Twister clone, but Prowler Pearl Orange instead of Vitamin C. And yes, it is a giant killer. It's built to run.
When I was growing up, the family next door to us was a Mopar family. It seemed like their son had a different 340 Abody every six months. He always traded, but ALWAYS had nice cars. I love the Abody. A 340 Duster with a 3.91 gear with either a 4 speed or 727 was truly a giant killer on the streets.
Stephen G your car sounds great. Your first one having the V24 option, Performance Hood treatment, was a rare option indeed. You didn't see them back in 71. My fav year was 72. I have owned 8 of them since 78. Sold my last one 2 years ago. It's in a collection in Gig Harbor, Seattle, Wa. I have always loved the 72 tail lights, pleated bucket seats, and the Sharks tooth grill. Wish they had carried over the Rally dash from 71 and the 275 HP. Ahhh, great memories!