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Saturday, October 26, 2013

That '70s Car! 1974 Plymouth Duster 360

A groovy and very fun early-1970s survivor and one of the last true American musclecars of the era, this original L-Code 360-powered (240 horsepower rating) 1974 Plymouth Duster (1 of 3,969) features an original appearing and heavily touched up but complete Yellow finish with Black side-accent stripes. It is very well-equipped with desirable factory options including an A-727 TorqueFlite automatic, large manual sunroof, grained vinyl roof covering, "Tuff" steering wheel, front bucket seats, and a fold-down rear seat with pass-through allowing access to the trunk from the interior. It rides on virtually new BF Goodrich Radial T/A tires surrounding Rallye wheels with trim rings. The Black vinyl bucket seat covers have been recently and very well restored by a professional upholsterer.












A perennial favorite of Mopar fanatics everywhere from introduction, the Plymouth Duster launched for 1970 to great buyer response as a sportier companion to the economical Valiant. With its fastback roofline, extensive list of available options, and engine choices ranging from the thrifty but powerful Slant Six to the high-performance 340 V-8, it’s easy to understand why. Even though rising insurance rates and gasoline prices strangled most of the era’s factory muscle cars, the 340 Duster somehow remained under the radar of anti-performance zealots and always provided excellent performance and youthful style from the showroom floor at a relatively low price point. Even when stricter emissions regulations forced Chrysler to increase the 340`s displacement to 360 cubic inches, power output remained strong at 245 net horsepower and the Duster’s performance remained intact, while competing performance cars were slowly and painfully watered down or completely discontinued altogether. While quite popular, just 3,969 360 Dusters were built for 1974.

This groovy example from 1974 is a rare and unrestored survivor with a solid underbody, acquired by the current owners from Indiana. It is an original `L-Code` 360 car, as confirmed by the VIN, equipped with a column-shifted A-727 TorqueFlite three-speed automatic transmission. Retaining its original-appearing Yellow exterior paint with Black side-accent stripes with many touch-ups, the Duster shows remarkably good and complete brightwork and the identification badges remain properly in place. Rallye wheels with trim rings provide further appeal, fitted with virtually new BF Goodrich Radial T/A tires. While the paint finish is mostly faded, careful examination reveals that it can certainly be polished nicely. The Duster is well equipped with a number of desirable factory-optional features, including a large hand-cranked sunroof panel, grained vinyl roof covering, front bucket seats, a "Tuff" steering wheel, and a fold-down rear seat with a pass-through panel that can be lowered to allow access to the trunk from the car`s interior compartment.

A recent extended drive confirms the 360 V-8 starts and runs well, with a somewhat lumpier-than-stock idle and the exhaust system is good and correct. The transmission shifts up and down well, with the 1-2 shift harder than stock with the possibility of a shift kit having been installed at an earlier point. The front bucket seats have been re-covered by a professional upholsterer recently. A very fun and enjoyable performer as it is with some tweaking, or an excellent restoration or build candidate, this Duster 360 Coupe is an honestly presented 1970s survivor that is sure to please.

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