My dad raised me to be a car lover and a die-hard Mopar fanatic. As an infant, I fell in love with his 2000 Dodge Ram 2500 (I now own it 21 years later), and when I was six years old my dad brought home a yellow 1972 Plymouth Duster 340 in June of 2005. That yellow Duster was one of the first classic cars I was ever exposed to, and from that day on I just developed a love for the classics. A few months later in September of 2005, he pulled his 1979 Dodge L’il Red Express Truck out of storage and began disassembling it for restoration. My six-year-old self was out there in the garage helping (or hindering) my dad tear apart his Red Express Truck over the next few years.
In July of 2011, my grandfather stumbled upon a real FJ5 sublime green 1970 Plymouth Duster 340 for sale at a garage sale when I was 12 years old. This car appealed to me because not only was it my favorite Mopar color, it was also a Duster just like my dad's (from an early age I’ve always wanted to be just like my dad). A year later, the car was still for sale and my grandparents bought it and gifted it to me as a father-daughter project my dad and I could work on together. We brought the car home on July 12th, 2012 when I was 13.
After doing some research, I learned that my Duster originally came out of California before it made its way to Wyoming. A restoration shop back in California received the car as a shell that was spray painted black. The restoration shop made the car look flawless when they put it back together; however, they ended up cutting a lot of corners to do so. This car was painted with a beautiful sublime green paint job, but that’s just about the extent of it. The car was put together with parts from other Mopars, certain aspects of the vehicle were just hodge-podged by the shop, and the wiring harness and all the under-dash components were left untouched, just to name a few. As a result, I made it my goal to restore the car more correctly than it had been and to more factory original specs. This car will by no means be a concourse-level restoration, I just wanted a car that was a nice driver that also looked factory correct.
This month marks 8 years of owning this Duster, and over these 8 years, I’ve done so much to it with the help of my dad and other family members. I worked during the summers to save up money for my car and used my days off from work and whenever I was home from college to work on my Duster. Over the years, this is what I’ve managed to accomplish with my car:
At only 13 years old, this car became my first car and has been a very prominent part of my life ever since. My dad dropped me off to my first day of 8th grade in the car and even drove my friends and I to our 8th grade promotion in it. I took my high school senior photos with this car, and also drove the Duster to the homecoming dance during my last year of high school. If it didn’t hail on my graduation day, I would’ve driven it to my high school graduation as well. My next planned milestone with this car is to have it at my college graduation in the Spring of 2021.
Not only did this car allow me to broaden my car knowledge and teach me skills about restoration, it also brought my entire family closer together. My dad primarily helped me work on this car, but sometimes my mom, grandfather, grandmother, and my uncle would all spend time helping me restore my car whenever I started a major project on it and needed help. My entire family is car crazy and owns many different classic cars, so it became a family tradition to pick a car show somewhere in the state of Wyoming and we’d all bring our cars there for the weekend. Obtaining this Duster gave me a classic of my own to have and allowed me to share in the classic car passion that my entire family has already had for years.
This car is definitely one of my most prized possessions, but it is also more than just a car to me. I relate this car to many prominent milestones throughout my life, such as my senior year of high school or learning to drive, because it’s been with me as I’ve grown up. Whenever I look at it, it makes me proud to see how much work I’ve accomplished to it over the years and how much I’ve learned from it. I also associate the Duster with many fond memories I’ve made with my family from the car shows we’ve attended and the bonds it allowed me to create, and it’s also allowed me to meet so many wonderful people at car shows over the years. This car helped build me into the person I am today, so it will forever be a priceless possession to me.
You have done a fantastic job, thank you for sharing your story! It's wonderful to see younger folks getting excited by cars and be willing to put the work to make them as wonderful as your Duster!
Simply a great story. Your love for that Duster brought back memories of my own passion for that little Duster 340 when I was a teenager. I was fortunate enough to own one back in 1971, and thrashed it daily and she took that beating without a hiccup. Like so many back then, when the gas crisis came in 74, I foolishly sold My duster. Boy, what a mistake that was. As I aged I never lost my passion for that car and what she truly meant to me so in the early 2000’s, I found me another and this one will stay with me until I’m gone. Thanks for sharing your story and don’t let that ole friend get away like so many before have.
Great stories my uncle and grandfather use to help work on my cars back in the 70's. I now have a 40 chevy bushmaster 85 pearl white 350. I glad you love cars. When you have a family I hope that you continue to include them in your passion. Having younger person s building Classics will keep them around long after we are gone. Love the work and the car.
Really enjoyed the history of your car, chronology of restoration, learning about the people involved, and what the vehicle represents in your life.
Terrific attention to detail and putting the Duster back to original condition.
That is a keeper for sure! I only came as close to pursuing my dream when I was 16 (circa 1978) and purchased a 340 motor from a 1970 Dart that was damaged badly in the rear. My plan was to find a donor vehicle but I lived on the east coast of Canada where road salt devoured automobiles with abandon. I paid $125 for the motor and someone made me an offer of $500 one day. Should never have let it go..
Even at that young age, I was a Mopar enthusiast and the 340 motor represented the best of internal combustion engineering and, imo, is more significant than anything from the "Big Block" family (383, 440) and will hold its own with the 426.
One of my favorite articles in the pages of Hagerty.
A wonderful car. A wonderful story. A SUPER WONDERFUL young lady---err, aka "wrench"!!
Gal, you are what will keep our collector car hobby (and businesses) going into the next century--maybe more.
I do hope Mr. Hagerty bestows high honors and maybe some perks on you.
Keep up the good work.
Thanks for the grand story about your Duster and your families involvement...keep up the good work on the Mopar...glad to see that you are from Wyoming, I recognized Thermopolis in your photos...
Great story. Thanks for sharing. I too bought a 1970 Plymouth Duster with a 340 as a young man. My step-dad was kind enough to help me with replacing the clutch, pressure plate & throw-out bearing, brakes & several other issues it had. I enjoyed every minute of owning that car & it taught me many life lessons.
Hi, I must admit this story put a tear in my eye. It's just great to see younger people interested in our great classics. May you have many more happy years with your family and your great project.
I'm a man. I don't cry. But her story and memories of my own kids at car events and helping on my car projects caused a few tears of joy!
Our two sons and a daughter were forced to attend car events and wade thru junkyards. For the most part, they didn't seem interested in old cars, yet they often sanded, scrapped, painted, and chased after tools for me over many years.
Thinking they weren't interested, now days when they visit, much of what they have to say is about an old car we had or an event we went on. They were addicted, it just didn't show.
We adopted our first grandson. He's the real car guy. He now knows more about cars than I ever knew, and has built some amazing cars and bikes.
Sadly most of my family car photos are gone. But here is our adopted 'little' son and a hint of why we had to sell our Vette. He outgrew his little center seat under the T-top.
Some of my fondest memories are of him with his El Camino and us with our '55 Chevy wagon, '49 Ford, or '41 Ford at a car event. Steven even got his driver license using my 2004 Dodge quadcab.
Its so great to see your hard work pay off and your dedication to keeping this tradition alive. Your story is touching as I am a die hard Mopar fanatic as well and have been so since I learned how to drive back in the 90's. Like you I am a younger generation that was not around in the old days when it was happening. I do think its pretty amazing to own and roll in something that's older than me!
I have 2 sons and 2 daughters and hope that one day they will get hit with the bug and keep the tradition rolling. We have spent lots of enjoyable times going for cruises and shows and it is really special when the younger generation gets a feel of this era.
Keep on rocking! your Duster looks fantastic and I'm sure you will have a few more mates to join it in your future!
Great story, and great car. I helped my Stepdad build his 71 Duster while I was on layoff with Bellsouth. The car was an original /6 that someone had dropped a 318 in. I used the 410 horse Mopar Muscle build as a template. Since it already had the 318 we built a Twister replica out of it with the hood blackouts, ladder stripe on the hood and the quarter panel Tornadoes. He had it painted in 2001 Prowler pearl orange. Love that green. There is a '71 340 Duster running around here that is Sublime Green.
I like the TTI stuff. Great Mopar specific stuff that actually fits whatever chassis they list.
Enjoy it, and enjoy your family.