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1970 Plymouth Duster: A Father-Daughter Project

New Driver

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.

6-year-old me with Dad's Red Express Truck6-year-old me with Dad's Red Express Truck6-year-old me with Dad's 1972 Duster6-year-old me with Dad's 1972 Duster

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.

Me with my grandparents who gifted me the DusterMe with my grandparents who gifted me the Duster

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:

  • Original 1970 Duster bucket seats were tracked down, reupholstered and installed in the car and the backseat was reupholstered to match
  • The car was converted from an automatic to a manual
  • The engine was pulled and painted to be the correct factory Hemi Orange color
  • A QA1 tubular front suspension was installed, along with brand new leaf springs and gas tank in the rear
  • The rear-end was rebuilt and the gears were changed from 3.23s to 3.73s
  • A new 3” exhaust setup from TTI Performance and Exhaust was installed
  • All firewall components were completely restored (this includes hours of sandblasting and repainting of parts, a complete rebuild on the heater box, repainting the firewall, and new insulation)
  • A new wiring harness was installed
  • The entire dash was removed, repainted and completely restored with working gauges

Me painting the engine Hemi OrangeMe painting the engine Hemi Orange

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.

My first day of 8th gradeMy first day of 8th grade

8th Grade Promotion8th Grade Promotion

Homecoming my senior yearHomecoming my senior year

One of my senior photosOne of my senior photos

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.

Me with the Duster in June 2019Me with the Duster in June 2019Me and my DadMe and my Dad

1 REPLY 1
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Re: 1970 Plymouth Duster: A Father-Daughter Project

Community Manager

Hello @WyoDuster340!

 

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!