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340 V8 Candidate? 1973 Plymouth Gold Duster

The Valiant was a steady performer for Plymouth, but exciting was not a word used to describe it. That changed in 1970 when the Duster was born, a fastback version that allowed it to go head-to-head with the Ford Maverick and Chevy Nova. It was successful, and the Duster would stick with the line-up through the retirement of the Valiant line in 1976. Here on eBay and currently at $1,250 is this 1973 edition which has the “Gold Duster” package, one of many creative ways that Plymouth would look for to attract buyers. However, this Duster has been sitting out in a field for who knows how long and has parted company with its engine and transmission. So, if you’ve got a 340 V-8 and a TorqueFlite looking for a new home, could this be it?

From the cowl forward, the Duster was all-Valiant. But from there back, it was a new car, with fastback styling to attract youthful buyers instead of senior citizens and stay-at-home moms. Because it was targeted at a younger audience, you could go from mild to semi-wild in terms of drivetrain choices. But the car didn’t have to have a big engine to be considered hip, as Plymouth was always coming up with “Special Editions” to bolster sales. In the case of the Duster, these trim and option packages came in the form of the Feather Duster, Silver Duster, Space Duster, Duster Twister and Gold Duster, like the seller’s car.

The Gold Duster came with special badging, gold stripes on the sides and rear (long gone on the seller’s car), carpeting, pleated or vinyl seats, additional insulation for sound deadening and a canopy vinyl roof (but apparently not on this car). There aren’t any records as to how many Gold Dusters Plymouth were made for 1973, but they sold 243,000 Dusters in total, with 46,000 having the 318 V-8. Production data provided by For Mopar Bodies Only.

The seller’s Gold Duster appears to have been working on a sunburn for quite some time out in New Mexico. The body in generally straight and rust does not appear to be a problem, although we have no idea what the car looks like underneath. Inside the trunk you’ll find a radiator, the front grille and some odds and ends that we assume go with the car. The back glass is missing, so add one of those to the shopping list. The interior is well baked, and the dash pad is as warped as I’ve ever seen. So, the buyer better plan on tearing it all out and start over.

We’re told this car had the common 318 V-8 and automatic transmission pairing before they parted ways. Which means you can do almost anything you want with it mechanically. A 340 would be a great addition and you could probably go bigger if the suspension would carry the load. But that shouldn’t be a concern as you’ll probably need to replace all that anyway. But if you’re looking for a maximum return on your investment, a stock 318 won’t help you much. A Duster 340 clone is your best bet.


  1. Troy s

    Why stop at 340 cubes? More is better, always has been.
    I’m not knocking the 340 at all but there’s stroker motors out there now that’ll just flat out peel the gold paint right off this derelict Duster!
    As for the interior……Yuck!

    Like 3
  2. Steve R

    I’d be surprised if it’s bid much, if any higher than it already is. It’s not the most desirable year, it’s located in an out of the way location, is a roller, needs a completely new interior and the overall condition is hard to determine from the pictures.

    It is a possible candidate for a 340 swap, but why stop there. If this is going to be someone project why not go with a stroked small block, kits to increase displacement to 400+ cubic inches are readily available at affordable prices.

    Steve R

    Like 3
  3. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    A gutted standard Mopar product sitting in a field with no reason to think the oxidation factor will be any different here. Remind me again, why are we looking at this car?

    Like 4
    • MoPar Mike

      To make you complain. You are free to scroll on.

      Like 1
  4. DON

    This car looks to be rust free , so that’s a huge selling point ; if you dont have to replace quarter panels and trunk pans, there’s a massive saving in time and money. This was a V8 car as well , so no need to look for a K frame which can fetch up to $500.00 these days. As for the interior? Well, in a restoration the interiors are usually completely replaced, so whether its a few cracks in a dash pad and seats ,or pads and seats that are really trashed , they both would be tossed – and who would want to keep the gold and tan interior anyway ? I see this as a perfect platform for a clone candidate, or a street rod .

    Like 1
  5. bone

    This car did have a half roof vinyl top ; its just been baked off from sitting in the New Mexico sun . You can see the chrome trim on the bottom of the A post and at least some of the roof mouldings are in the trunk

    Like 0
  6. Jon B

    Before 1970 Valiants could be had with plenty of pop. They were called Barracudas.

    Like 0

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