Running Project: 1971 Plymouth Duster 340

This 1971 Plymouth Duster 340 runs and drives, and it would appear that it wouldn’t take a lot of work to get it to the point where it could be used regularly. It does have some rust issues, but these would appear to be mainly superficial. The Duster is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and has attracted some healthy bidding since it was listed for sale here on eBay. This bidding has pushed the price along to $7,100, and the reserve has been met.

It would seem that the Duster has led a reasonably colorful life. When it was shiny and new, it originally wore Dark Bronze Poly paint. It has received a change at some point and is now finished what I believe to be to be Plum Crazy. It would appear that whoever did this work was pretty thorough because even the floors inside the car wear this paint. The panels are straight, but there is some rust to be dealt with. This has afflicted many of the typical Mopar weaker points, including the rockers, the rear quarter panels, many of the other lower body extremities, and some areas around the windows. The floors are basically solid, except for the front toe boards. The owner suggests that replacing these and the quarter panels would probably be a smart move. There is one rust spot in the passenger-side front frame rail, but the owner states that this should be an easy repair. The wheels that the Duster rolls on aren’t original, and they are showing some deterioration. I would be inclined to replace these as a matter of course. The external trim and chrome are presentable, and there are no apparent issues with the glass.

Under the hood, we find a 340ci V8 that should be producing 275hp. This is backed by a 4-speed manual transmission and a high-performance rear axle with a 3.9:1 ratio. The transmission and rear-end are both original, but the 340 has been replaced at some point. It is date correct but means that this is not a numbers-matching classic. When performing at its peak, the Duster should be capable of ripping through the ¼ mile in a neat 15-seconds. The news here is pretty reasonable because the Duster does run and drive. However, the owner does suggest that a thorough mechanical inspection would be adviseable before any extended journeys are attempted. It appears that a new water pump has recently been fitted. What I have noticed is that in this photo, the battery is disconnected. Given the fact that this photo appears to have been taken at the same time as the rest, it makes me wonder whether there might be an electrical fault or two that is flattening the battery. That would be a question that would be worth asking.

If the buyer wants to return the Duster to the road quickly, there is no reason why they couldn’t use the interior as-is. The seats aren’t wearing their original covers, but they do seem to be free from rips and tears. It would be interesting to see how the cloth inserts responded to a deep clean. If the buyer isn’t fussed about complete originality, then the covers might not need to be replaced as a part of the restoration process. The interior features Rally gauges, including a factory tach. The dash appears to be unaltered, and the pad looks good, but the dash itself will require restoration. The door trims look fine, but the carpet is ill-fitting and needs attention. Overall, getting the interior presenting well might not be a difficult or expensive proposition.

The 1971 Plymouth Duster is an attractive car, and in this color, it is one that is guaranteed to attract plenty of attention. This car will need some work, but at least it does appear to be structurally sound. I do not doubt that there will be readers who will want to undertake a full restoration of the vehicle, returning it to the state that it was in back in 1971. I would also guarantee that there will be plenty of readers who would address the rust, apply a fresh coat of Plum Crazy, and then hit the road for some fun. Into which camp do you fall?


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  1. Woody

    This is a nice project car,just needs freshen up and finish the tribute to the 340/Wedge! My Demon dual snorkel scoop would look good also…….

    Like 2

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