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Plymouth Duster

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Plymouth Duster
Plymouth
Production: 1970-1976
Class: Compact
Body Style: 2-door Coupe
Length: 200.3"
Width: 71.8"
Height: 53.1"
Wheelbase: 108"
Weight: 3200-3500 lbs
Transmissions: 3-Speed Manual RWD
4-Speed Manual RWD
3-Speed Automatic, RWD
Engines: 3.2L (198 cid) I6 (1970-1973)
3.7L (225 cid) I6 (1970-1976)
5.2L (318 cid) V8 (1970-1976)
5.5L (340 cid) V8 (1970-1973)
5.9L (360 cid) V8 (1974-1975)
Power: 90-275 hp
Similar: Dodge Demon/Dart Sport
Platform A

The Plymouth Duster was a sporty fastback coupe spinoff of the compact Valiant. The Duster was all new in 1970 on a 108" wheelbase and shared the Valiant's front sheetmetal and drivetrain, but from the mid-section to the rear, it had its own individual styling. The Duster's interior was also identical to the Valiant's, sharing the same dashboard, seats and door panels. The Duster was a runaway success for Plymouth, selling over 1,328,377 by the time it was discontinued at the end of the 1976 model year. The Duster was always known as a "dual personality" car, being that it could be equipped with a meek six cylinder engine or have a fire-breathing, high-winding small-block V8.

Here's a rundown from year to year:

Contents

1970

The Valiant was restyled this year, and now that the Barracuda had been completely redesigned and now on Chrysler's new E-body platform, one could rightly argue that the Duster was at least a spiritual successor to the previous A-body Barracuda that was also based on the Valiant. So, the Duster was born. Naturally the Duster shared the Valiant's drivetrain offerings, ranging from the 3.2L 198 cid Slant Six, the 3.7L 225 cid Slant Six and the 5.2L 318 cid V8, but one engine that separated the Duster from the Valiant was the availability of the vaunted 5.5L 340 cid V8, better known as the "Duster 340". Duster 340s got their own dashboards with round gauges and 150 MPH speedos - basically the exact dash that was previously in the 1967-1969 A-body Barracuda. 3- and 4-speed manual transmissions were available on all engines as well as a 3-speed automatic. In this year the Duster was known as the "Valiant Duster" (the nameplates even read as such). The Duster evidently clicked well with the buying public, as 217,192 were sold in its premier year.

1971

The Duster dropped its "Valiant" designation this year, being known simply as "Duster". Dusters recieved a new grille this year, but all else remained the same. Dodge now had a version of the Duster called the Demon, which was based (naturally) on the Dart. The Demon 340 effectively replaced the Dart Swinger 340, as the 340 was no longer available on the Swinger. The Duster was a far more popular car than the Demon, whose sales were only roughly 40% of the Duster's. All drivetrain options mirrored those of the 1970 model.

This year the Twister package came along, which shared the same appearance package as the Duster 340. The slant six was standard and the 318 was optional. These were made for the people wanting the looks of the Duster 340 without the Duster 340 insurance premiums. The 1971 Duster "Twister" is the only year that the car shared the popular Duster 340 "shark's tooth" grille. The fender tag code on a Twister is A51. Also all new this year was the Gold Duster package, most of which were gold (although some were white and light green), had a gold interior color and got its own unique decals. It was available with both the Slant Six and 318 V8 engines.

1972

Dusters again recieved new taillights, they were longer than 70 and 71 taillights. The "Twister" package was still available, from 71. All engines were rated at net horsepower this year, resulting on horsepower decreases across the board for all engines. The 3.7L 225 cid Slant Six continued to be the most popular engine choice, but the 5.2L 318 and 5.5L 340 V8s were still available. The Duster 340s no longer had their own distinctive dashboard, they now shared the dash with the lesser Duster models.

1973

Dusters recieved their first (and only) minor restyling this year, with an all new nose and new tail treatment. Front bumpers were all new (and larger). Bowing to various religious coalitions and internal political pressure, Dodge renamed its Duster twin Demon to Dart Sport. Dusters could have a fold-down "convertriple" rear seat this year, greatly enhancing cargo space. Dusters with this option were subsequently known as "Space Duster". The hot 340 V8 hung on for one more year despite having a lower horsepower rating than previous years, but it still delivered plenty of bang-for-the-buck, especially for the day.

1974

The Duster this year got a new larger rear bumper but all else the body stayed the same as 73. The biggest drivetrain change was the 340 was no longer available, being replaced with a 245 hp 5.9L 360 cid V8 (also spelling the end of the "Twister" model). The 360 wasn't nearly as popular as the Duster 340, selling less than 4,000 units. The 225 Slant Six was the only straight six available this year. The 318 V8 remained a popular choice also. All transmission choices were still the same for all three engines; the 3-and 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic. Sales were at an all-time high of 349,388 this year.

1975

Dusters again recieved a new grille mirroring the Valiant's, but all else remained the same. Drivetrain choices remained the same; the 225 Slant Six standard, with the 318 and 360 V8s optional (the 360 V8 sold less than half of what it sold in 1974, making one a definite rare find today). Some Dusters started requiring unleaded gas this year, depending on where in the U.S. it was sold. Sales started falling off this year, but it managed to sell in substantial numbers.

1976

The Duster was visually unchanged for its final year, but it nonetheless had some other various changes, not the least of which being the slow-selling 360 V8 was no longer available - the 318 V8 was now the top engine option. A new "Silver Duster" appearance package was available, which was (naturally) silver in color. Another interesting new package was the "Feather Duster", which was available only as a Slant Six, and employed various weight-saving techniques such as aluminum inner hood and trunk bracings and bumper brackets, an extra-tall rear axle ratio - all in the name of better fuel economy (supposedly rated at 30 MPG highway, although that's quite doubtful in real-world conditions). Since the Valiant was superceded by the all-new Volare this year, that subsequently spelled the end of the Duster as well. There would be no direct replacement.

Although the Duster was no more after 1976, the Duster name would reappear no less than 3 more times as option packages for the Volare, Turismo and Sundance before Plymouth itself ceased to be a make after 2001.


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