Garage Find: 1972 Plymouth Duster

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Plymouth Valiant sales were on the decline in the late 1960s, but not because they weren’t practical cars. It was because they weren’t terribly exciting. 2 and 4-door boxy sedans weren’t attracting younger buyers to the Valiant, while Ford was doing the opposite with its new Maverick and had Chevy already done so with its Nova. Enter the Duster, which was new from the windshield back. It shared no sheet metal with the Valiant other than the fenders and hood. This third-year Duster from 1972 is said to be a one-owner car that has been hidden away in a garage since 1992. It’s available in Augusta, Georgia and here on eBay where the bidding is up to $3,600, but the reserve has yet to be met.

As it would turn out, the Duster would be more functional in some respects than the Valiant and one of its main competitors, that pesty Maverick. While the wheelbases were the same, the Duster had six more cubic feet of trunk space than the Valiant, so you could haul more stuff in the sportier car. And the Duster had a five-inch longer wheelbase than the Ford, which equated to 11 more inches of hip room in the rear seat, 3.5 inches in the front, and 4.5 more cubic feet in the trunk. So, Plymouth was selling more than good looks with its new car. One that Dodge would copy the next year with the Demon.

We don’t know a lot about this ’72 Duster other than it’s been off the road for nearly 30 years. The reasons for its dormancy are unknown. Apparently, it was a single owner car until the seller loaded it up on a trailer and hauled it away. We’re told it will run, but we’re guessing it’s going to need a lot of maintenance work to be roadworthy again. For example, who wants to drive around on 30-year-old tires? The body doesn’t look bad, although it has a few little dents here and there. There doesn’t appear to be any rust, but the seller provides few photos for a thorough inspection. There is a bit of surface rust where the dings are, the gold paint is faded, and the front bumper and fender bottom are bent.

This is said to be a six-cylinder car, which could have been either 198 or 225 cubic inches. It may likely be the latter as the car has air conditioning and power steering. We wish the seller would have provided interior, trunk and engine compartment photos. The odometer reading is said to be 72,000 miles. One of the trim packages available was the Gold Duster which, at first, we thought this car might be. There appears to be the possibility of a half-vinyl roof that the Gold Duster would have had, but we just can’t tell. The last photo is of a Gold Duster, just in case. Hagerty says a ’72 Duster in Fair condition is worth $8,400, less 20 percent for the inline-six.

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  1. Rick

    I had one EXACTLY like this one. Mine was not a Gold Duster, but it had the snakeskin half vinyl roof on it.

    Like 0
  2. Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

    A college buddy had a Duster that had been handed down from his Grandmother. He drove it for several years, then bought something sexier, probably for less than 500 bucks back in those days.

    One of his friends came up with the bright idea to blow the Duster up (less than 10 years old at that time), so they drained all of the oil out of the slant-6 and proceeded to drive it. For 3 days. It wouldn’t die. So, he put 5 quarts of oil back in it and sold it for $300.

    Like 11
  3. bone

    The pictures aren’t the best, but I’m going to say its been repainted or repaired. One picture shows the dome light switch painted over and the lower body panels look wavy – possible body filler. Strange thing on the top ;I thought only Dusters with the Gold Duster package got the snakeskin roof and other half tops cars would have been regular vinyl , but Gold Dusters have a deluxe interior and would have had carpeting and not have had rubber mats.

    Like 2
  4. JW454

    I had two Dusters. My 1970 was the most base car I ever owned. No power steering, no power brakes, no radio, dog dish hub caps, slant 6. It did have an automatic transmission which was probably an option. It had a rubber floor liner but, not much else. I bought it because it was the EB5 blue color.
    My 1972 had a few options like power steering, full vinyl top, and a radio but, it was still a slant six with an automatic.
    They were both nice cars that could always get you there and back. The 1970 went to a guy that had recently wrecked a 340 Dart and he needed a good solid body to put his drive train into. The 1972 went to a friend that promptly smashed it into a street pole in a DUI incident. Sad

    Like 2
  5. DON

    I had a Basin ST. Blue ( like petty blue) 72 Duster with a slant 6 auto. I was 17 and It was the first car I bought at a dealership with my own money . It was 6 years old and I paid $1,300 for it. 6 months later I went to a local gas station to put air in the spare tire. While waiting to turn left from the main road into the station I was rear ended by a drunk driver in a new rented 79 Caddy. The skid mark was only about 3 feet long so he never saw me until the last second. Both cars were destroyed Still miss that little car.

    Like 2
  6. Pete in PA

    Up to $4500 this morning (1/20/21) OMG I bought nicer Dusters to part out back in the early 80s for less than $500. Many for just $100. My oh my how times have changed.
    I drove a 72 Gold Duster for a few years in the mid-80s until PA road salt ate it from under me. It was a great commuter car with the slant 6 and fun as well. I wonder how I’d feel about driving one today having 30 years of experience driving later stuff.
    I think the chances of this Duster being “restored” are exactly zero. The drivetrain will be removed, the interior will be gutted, and the car will become a 340 clone or a big block powered restomod.
    It might be time to sell the one Duster I stashed away back in 1987 — a white Duster Twister with the 318, a 3-speed manual, bucket seats and those cool Twister-only hood scoops.

    Like 2
  7. S

    I never cease to be amazed at the prices cars like this sell for. I like these cars a lot – but the fact is that LOTS of work is going to need to be done to get this car running if it sat for 30 years. All of the fluids are going to have to be changed. Brakes gone through. Tires replaced, carburetor rebuilt, new battery, full tune up, likely a radiator replaced or recored. And then all the body damage is going to have to be addressed. It’s salvageable, but unless you could get it for really cheap why would you want it? Unless you do all of the work yourself, it’s going to cost a few thousand dollars to do all of this work. Starting off at ~$4500 for a non-running car? I just don’t see it. If it was $1000 or so, then maybe I’d get involved. Without it running you don’t know what it’s going to need. And it’s a slant 6, not a 340. That said, I hope it goes to a good home.

    Like 1

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