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Big-Block Powered 1974 Plymouth Duster

When I first spied this Duster I thought, that’s an interesting subject, a ’74 Duster with some bluster! By ’74, the performance bender, that had started years before, was all but over, and Plymouth’s everyman economy compact had to make do with a watered-down 360 CI engine. That said, it still performed surprisingly well. This is the first Duster that I have come across that has been the benefactor of a big-block switcheroo, so let’s check it out. This Plymouth is located in Lansing, Michigan, and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $3,750, reserve not yet met.

As for the obvious, this Duster is a bit shaky looking unless you’re going for the Roadkill look, in which case, it’s spot on. The seller describes it as, “This is a very solid car, that needs little to be really nice“. I guess that depends on one’s definition of “needs little”. It has been set up for hot-footing and if that’s your intention, maybe it’s good to go. Admittedly the body doesn’t appear to have been victimized by rust-through or crash damage.

The seller adds, “The rest of the body is extremely solid“. That’s not exactly what the above image is illustrating, it appears to be an understructure component that’s not in the best of condition. Perhaps it’s not as serious an issue as it initially appears but further investigation is warranted.

I’m not much of a machine head, but I do know a little, and this Plymouth’s 400 CI V8 engine has been ginned up with a lot of power improvements along with some headers that have had the benefit of some “custom hammering“. It sounds as if the motor has had a .040 overbore so it will be displacing more than 400 cubic inches. The seller claims, “it runs and drives fine“. The 727 TorqueFlite automatic transmission has been outfitted with a reverse, manual valve body and it’s connected to a 3.91 “spooled” differential which probably makes street driving a bit of a chore.

Inside looks fair though the seller suggests that the bench seat is “shot” and should be replaced; the carpet and passenger-side door card, however, look surprisingly nice. The rest of the environment is pretty standard with a non-modified instrument panel, added under dash gauges, and an obligatory missing radio. A competition shifter, to stir the automatic’s now manually controlled gear set, has been installed and looks to be pretty effective.

If you’re looking for something that can handle a Saturday night drag strip shoot-out, or a little sporting street motivating, here’s your ride. I’d probably want to do something with the exterior unless you can somehow get away with only showing off the passenger side. Someone has put a lot of time and effort into this Duster and it would be nice to see if finished off properly and enjoyed as intended. What do you think, any interest?


  1. Tony Primo

    Get the thing all one colour to start with, I’m thinking primer black.

    Like 4
  2. Terrry

    It is pretty solid..except for all the rust. It also give “patina” a bad name.

    Like 4
  3. Steve R

    Someone at some point that knew what they were doing hand their hands on this car. Since then, it seems like it’s passed through at least one set of hands, probably more, each time progressively deteriorating. This is a pretty common occurrence. At this point it can probably be resurrected, if the price is right, it’s been run through eBay twice before with high bids between $4,100-4,200, neither making reserve. This change of ownership is likely do or die for this car, if it passes through many more hands without a turn around, it’s destined to be stripped of its good parts and it’s body jettisoned as scrap or as an inexpensive drivetrain free project.

    Steve R

    Like 3
  4. Kevin

    The undercarriage pic does nothing to bolster any confidence in the “mostly solid”comment,that is a structural problem, and probably sooner, rather than later the big block will tear the car apart, and possibly the driver with it, if they are trying to race it.

    Like 3
  5. Dale S.

    Minor Rust??? The inner wheel house is rotted out, the trunk pan extension and likely the pan is rotted out as well, the rear side member (rail) has a hole cut in it and a great booger weld done to fix the cracked area likely from a severe rear impact to that side. Just saying, it’s nothing a good $60,000 can fix up correctly. For what ? At best this is a $24,000 vehicle even after it’s been redone. PASS I’ll put my hard earned money into a much better quality Duster/Demon of the 70′-72′ range.

    Like 0

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