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Package Deal Hot Rods: 2 X 1971 Plymouth Dusters

UPDATE 12/6/20: The seller has lowed his asking price to $12,000 and reduced the ad to just one car, the Gold Duster.

The Plymouth Duster was a popular fastback variant on the Valiant when it was introduced in 1970. Plymouth would sell more than 173,000 of them the first year and 11,000 more than that the second. Most were built with Slant-Six or 318 V-8 engines, but a goodly number of Duster 340s also hit the streets. Both of the seller’s cars are in a state of transformation, with performance as the goal. One has a tricked out 400 under the hood, the other has a rebuildable short block not in the car. Both Dusters are projects, although the 400 is closer to being road ready. This is a package deal here on craigslist where the seller is asking $18,000 for both and the cars are in different locations in and around San Francisco, California. Our buddy Pat L. has come through again!

1971 Duster #1

We’re don’t know the history of either car, but that one has the Gold Duster trim package with no indication what was under the hood previously. Today, a 400 resides there with a 727 TorqueFlite automatic and long tube headers, front disc brakes, a new exhaust, new axles with 8 ¾ rear-end and 355 Sure Grip. What little we see of the outside of the Duster suggests there is some rust brewing in the lower right quarter panel, while the paint, chrome and glass all appear good. It’s wearing the attractive Chrysler 15-inch Rallye wheels with new raised white letter tires. What we can tell of the upholstery and door panels look good, but the backseat cushion is out, likely removed to pull up the carpets which seem to reveal solid floorboards. I get this feeling this car is a runner, but the seller doesn’t say so.

1971 Duster #2

There is no reference to what engine is or was under the hood of this car, although the decals suggest a 340 motor. The hood has dual scoops that are not installed, so they may be sitting there for show. Since the seller doesn’t pop the hood, we’re going to guess there is no engine there and that’s where the small block was going to go after it was rebuilt. He says it’s a 1972 motor capable of 440 hp with the heads, camshaft, pistons, and other stuff there to make it happen. What Chrysler small block was capable of 440 hp? We don’t see much of this car either as the listing is largely showing the parts. There is a kink on the frame that should be sorted out, but I don’t know if that would do any harm left alone. This Duster comes with bucket seats that need attention and a console that needs installing.

The seller says he has too many projects and hence both cars need to go. I would certainly think he’d have a better chance selling them separately with more photos and a better description, but that’s just me. As a point of reference, a really clean Duster 340 can easily go for the money he’s asking or more. Would it make sense to buy the pair, take what you need off of Duster #2 to finish Duster #1 and then resell what’s left over?


  1. Mitchell Gildea Member

    440 horsepower from a small block Chrysler isn’t inconceivable. A few years ago “Mopar Muscle” took a 360 and built it up to 455 horsepower with a few mods. And that motor was a junkyard motor mind you

    Like 5
  2. Rich

    Well got to say this, my 69 Super Bee 383 easily put out over 400 hp with a decent set of headers, better intake manifold and carb. It was way too much fun for a crazy 16 year old kid. Just ask the cops where I lived, they would not even try to write me up for speeding…They would just stop by my house with the next ticket! Can’t recall which cost more back then, my tickets or a new set of rear tires once a month…BTW, where do I send the cash for these Dusters please? A well built Duster was a true beast as many Mustang and Camaro owners will attest to, if they are honest.

    Like 2
  3. Sherminator

    In the Craigslist ad, the seller states, “There’s another ad up with 2 duster pictures, a white and purple duster ignore that one.”

  4. Gremlin X

    Probably a pair of 318 or slants I remember back when I was young and full of spunk, we used to buy ’em cheap and run them hard. Take a few zeros off this ask. You’d break them. They didn’t seem robust to our abuse with high miles, but you’d just go get another one, continue on with the fun.

  5. Rich

    Does anyone remember how bad the steering and handling was on these? I do, just ask the telephone pole…a scary car to drive, steered like it was on black ice as soon as the road became wet or snowy.

    Like 2
  6. George Louis

    I drove several Dodge Darts, Valiants, Barracudas. and Dusters I never had a problem with handling nor an affinity for finding telephone poles, must be you did not want to pay the phone bill when it was due!!

    Like 4
    • Rich

      Good one George!
      Was working for a PORSCHE dealer in south Ala., drove an old Duster trade in home one night as my demo was unavailable. Despite lots of experience w many rwd MOPARS, it had just rained, a tiny bit. Just enough to raised the oil from the asphalt to the surface. An idiot panic braked in front of me, I went to the left lane at 35mph, no brakes, no gas. (Learned to drive in Colorado mountains, where a mistake will kill you) The car immediately spun across 2 lanes of oncoming traffic, did a 360 head on into telephone pole. Car was totaled, the cop just laughed, and said “if you are driving a pos Duster, you have been punished enough.” No ticket. BTW love the car, but unimproved handing does suck…have a good one.

      Like 1
  7. Frogwarts Member

    Distributor in front suggests this could be a 383, maybe bored out to 400?
    Chrysler small blocks had distributor in back.

    Like 4
    • Phil D

      Frogwarts, the listing identifies the engine as a later model year 400 (it says ’72, but I seem to recall 1973 as the year that Chrysler made the transition from the 383 to the 400, although after 48 or 49 years I could be mistaken), which was a B-block engine (it replaced the 383, but wasn’t simply a bored-out 383), so the distributor location is consistent with the description.

      Whatever the model year, this engine has been treated to, at the very least, a “rattle can rebuild”, since Chrysler never built an orange 400 (all were Corporate Blue).

  8. Glenn C. Schwass Member

    The torsion bar front ends were junk. There are aftermarket suspensions now that would fix that. If the car is rust free, that is 90% of the battle. They rusted just sitting, without adding salt here in the Northeast that would eat them in 5-10 years. I would prefer a stick, but the manual trannies weren’t too strong either. ( a friend went through a few and he didn’t beat them..). The other issue was the electrical problems. I’d swap to a Ron’s wiring harness for a start…

    Like 1
  9. George Louis

    I had a 1972 Dodge Dart that was my First Car which was Special ordered out Garrity Motors Hamtramck,MI Garrity was just down the street from Dodge Main later known as the Hamtramck, Assembly. I ordered a 318 V8 with Electronic ignition a $35.00 Option, Heavy Duty Suspension, with Sway bar and upsized Torsion Bars, Front Disc Brakes with Power assist , no power steering, Goodyear D78x14 Black sidewall Polyglass tires. I also took the car to the Ziebart dealer that was on Eight Mile Road in Southfield , Mi and had it Ziebarted. Never had a any rust issues with the car After owning the car I replaced the Shock Absorbers with Monroe Super 500 shocks front and rear, and Pirelli E78x14 Radial Tires. I could tell if the quarter in the street was face up or face down!!!! Those Pirelli tires were like diving on iron with no wear. I got 150, 000 miles on the car before the timing chain broke, kissed a piston and decided I got my moneys worth out of the car. Worthy to note: I never replaced the ECU unit nor the Ballast resistor. The car was built on March 1, 1972. It started on the trim line out of Paint on Thursday the second shift, rolled off the final line number two at 1:25PM Friday and was shipped to Garrity Motors on Saturday March 3, 1972 and was at the dealer by 9:45 AM. I picked the car up on Monday March 5,1972 at 4:30PM How I wished that i still had that car today!!!!!

  10. Racegeek

    First car, 74 duster, slant six, 3 on tree, manual drum brakes and steering, what a turd. But reliable, just not a corner burner!

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