Dusty But Original: 1973 Plymouth Duster 340

I am reliving my misspent high school years here on Barn Finds as I survey cars that had an impact on me during those rather impetuous years. One of my best h.s. friends went in on halfsies with his sister and bought a new ’70 Plymouth 340 Duster; it ran like a scalded dog! My memory of that Plymouth is still impressive to this day. That being the case, I thought it would be a good idea to check out this 1973 Duster 340. It is located in Lucerne Valley, California and available here on eBay for a price of $13,500. Thanks to Patrick L. for this tip!

The Duster 340 was introduced as a bargain muscle car in ’70 and continued through ’73. It was designed to compete with the likes of the Chevy Nova SS and the Dodge Dart GTS. The Duster was based on the Plymouth Valiant and in its inaugural year, the Duster wore a small “Valiant” badge on the leading edge of its front fenders. In ’74, the Duster 340 became the Duster 360, basically the same car but with the general purpose 360 CI engine instead of the performance spec only 340. After ’73, no more 340 engine and after ’76, no more Duster.

This Duster 340 is a life-long California car and claimed to be of matching number stature. It appears as all original (other than the bump-strip down the side and I’m not certain about that spoiler), just a bit worn looking from the California sun as this Plymouth would seem to be wearing its original finish of Tahitian Gold Metallic. There is some minor surface rust in the trunk and a small dent in the passenger side “C” pillar but nothing more than that and the body looks straight and rot free – those California cars! The seller positively indicates no floor rust and based on the accompanying images, that appears to be the case. Speaking of images, there are about 70 that can be perused and it’s worth taking the time to do so. The odometer shows 51K miles and the seller claims exactly that, “Odometer shows 51,142 miles”, it’s not an out and out mileage statement. Back to the Federal bumper matter, Plymouth did it well in ’73. You can see that this Duster has extended rubber bumper guards but they are not extreme or obnoxious like they were on some ’73 models.

The 340 CI V8 engine, which develops 240 net HP runs and you can hear it via a YouTube video here. The Seller states that the engine is original and a matching number unit; he has the build sheet too. The seller further adds that it, “Runs and drives excellent”, and doesn’t smoke or leak. A TorqueFlite, three-speed automatic transmission handles power to the rear wheels. My experience with pre-emission control 340 engines is that they are quite a handful and surprisingly strong performers. Even in this ’73 emission controlled era, they were still notable runners and very durable engines.

The interior is fair. The high-back, white vinyl bucket seats are starting to split and the door cards are showing signs of coming unglued. The instrument panel is really tatty, hard to say what happened there. The dash pad is, not surprisingly, completely cooked as is the package shelf. The center console has its own gymnastics going on, peeling veneer and a misfitting lid. None of this is surprising for a 47-year-old car, especially one that has been exposed to the California sun. My only thought is whether this car has been sitting for some extended time outdoors instead of in a more protected environment.

Kudos to the seller for his extensive listing – way better than a lot of what I frequently encounter. I am always drawn to these Duster 340s because, as I mentioned at the beginning, of my experience with my high school friend’s ’70. He had a continual grudge match with another classmate that owned a ’71 Mustang Mach 1 with a 351 Cleveland motor. Bets were made and race they did, that Duster shutting down the Mustang every time – it seemed epic back then but it was just irresponsible high school antics. I’m not inclined to pursue a Duster 340 at this point in my life but this example would make a nice starting point for someone who wanted to do so. The 340 engine always got a lot of respect and this is one to consider, don’t you think?

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Comments

  1. rodney woliver

    No question!!! 340 can be made to be a monster with little work! Work the heads, add headers, cam, high rise and watch out!!! Friend of mine did that in high school with a 340 Duster 4 speed and low geared 8 and 3/4…Wow it was fast!!!

    7
  2. Troy s

    No question the high performance 340 was an excellent engine in the lighter cars, especially the Duster/Demon, the Dart’s. Don’t like the rear spoiler on this one, seems more of a distraction to me on an otherwise clean design. Not quite as strong as the ’70 Duster 340 though. Nice ride.

    3
  3. Gaspumpchas

    Yes Troy, that 70 had 10:1/2 compression, and yeah ran like a scalded dog. This smogged down version could be souped up to no end now with all the goodies available, The 340 was an amazing mill. Looker over good. I don’t like the front end with the big bumper, but that’s me, Good luck to the new owner!
    Cheers
    GPC

    4
  4. David G

    Awesome car. Would love to have it if my stable wasn’t full. :( The ’74 Duster 360 has the E-58 engine, which has 245 horsepower, not the stock passenger car 360.

    5
    • Jim ODonnell

      David:

      Thanks for the clarification.

      What I was thinking was that the 360 engine was a general-purpose engine with a higher performance version available for the Duster 360 et. al. as opposed to the 340 motor which was always a performance engine. I didn’t word it very well.

      3
      • Dave

        There were indeed two versions of the 360, a two and four barrel version. The 4 barrel was a 1974 model year only option. I believe that it was an option on Road Runners, Challengers, and Cudas.

  5. RobB

    Nice car. Oh, it can be made to look good, even with the big front bumperl

  6. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    The passenger side taillight with the yellow lens: I don’t recall that ever being in a Duster. Is it from a Volare?

    • Brian

      Thanks for pointing that out.

    • Miguel

      PRA4SNW, that is not an amber lens. That is the way the light caught the reflector.

      Only these Dusters had these lenses.

  7. Jeff

    Nice find and for not much cash money well worth restoring the interior too!

    1
    • Miguel

      Jeff, you think $13,500 is not much money for a car that needs everything?

      1
  8. jerry z

    Car needs plenty of work for the price. Trunk floor rusted and interior is shot. Granted the body does look good and should get close to $10K for it.

  9. George M.Louis Member

    The passenger side tail light is not a factory tail lamp . It was not on the Dodge Dart Sport from 1973/74 either. I have never seen a tail lamp like that before from the factory. If you want a 360 Engine use a 1978 / 79 Dodge Little Red Express 360 engine!!!!!!

    1
    • Miguel

      George, that passenger lens is the factory lens.

      The discoloration you see is how the light caught the reflector in the picture.

  10. FrankFitz

    No doubt about it a well tuned 340 is crazy fast in a straight line; cornering is twitchy. I have had my 70 Dart 4 speed plum crazy since 1984 and will never sell it. Perhaps it makes me feel young again . Back in July 1970 I bought a new 1970 Dart but with the 225 leaning tower of power. I shudder thinking about the daily abuse I administered without any consequences other than piling up plenty of tickets. Whoever gets this one hopefully will enjoy many moments of acceleration. GLWTA

  11. Russell tripp

    Have 340 trans am the car is fast and fun this one is one of the few that is not way overpriced the trans am is not for sale

  12. R Soul

    I just had a look at his other vehicles for sale on eBay. This guy has quite a few classics for sale.

  13. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Although a runner and the #’s matching it is still a few thousand over what it should bring being the later model. $9500 would be a max for someone that really wanted this color/year/combo. Spoiler isn’t correct and the tail light mods is most likely from the sun angle.

    1
  14. David Ulrey Member

    Of course the Duster is a newer model year than I am, I’m a 1960 model but unlike it, I do smoke and occasionally leak.. :) I do prefer the ones a year or two older but this would still a very enjoyable car.

  15. r s

    I’d have to take the engine apart and rebuild it to the specs of a few years earlier, and ditch those big fugly bumpers for smaller earlier ones.

  16. RTS

    Can you really call the car a survivor when both front fenders have been replaced and repainted? I don’t think so. Over priced.

    2
  17. George Louis Member

    You have to remember that in 1973 manufacturers were to come up with front bumpers to withstand 5 MPH impact.. Rear specification was 2.5 MPH

  18. Dave

    Volare

  19. George Louis Member

    Still is not a 1976 Volare Tail Light assembly

  20. don

    The stripes arent factory original ; the tail stripe especially is very different and the side spears look a bit wider than the factory ones .The rear spoiler was not an option in 1973 .The tail lights were all the same on Dusters from 1973 – 1976 and thats all that fits. A personal pet peeve of mine is the painting of the inner fender wells ,which should be painted the same as the rest of the car , which looks to be Rallye Red , not gold . I’m not 100% on this, but I also dont think Dusters had the bit of wood trim on the door panels; it seems high line Scamps and Swingers did. Its going to need some work so I dont think its going to sell for what they are asking , but someone may have had a red 340 and money will be no object to get another one !

    • don

      Oh, and the 340 on the quarters are no where near the original design – I’m wondering why they were painted over – maybe its now a 318 disguised as a 340 ?

  21. John Y

    Can someone speak to the fact that it’s a Duster Classic ? What exactly is that and what are the codes that differentiate it ?
    I’ve never seen one before.
    Thanks. John

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