Plymouth Duster (1970 – 1976)

1970 Plymouth Duster

The Plymouth Duster is experiencing rising popularity in the collector world. Popular opinion is that the increase in popularity is due to the Duster’s value. As when new, the Duster is cheaper than a similar Chevrolet Chevelle or Ford Mustang. There are many of them around due to the popularity when new. And parts are still easy to find. So, the Duster still makes sense today.

Chrysler Corporation launched the Plymouth Duster in 1970 when demand was growing  for sporty compacts. The Duster also filled the slot vacated by the Plymouth Barracuda when it was moved to the Chrysler E body for 1970. To save time and development dollars, the Duster was based on Plymouth Valiant mechanicals. The Duster was all Valiant from the cowl forward, but with the exception of the door skins, the Duster was completely different from the cowl back. The Duster was designed with a semi-fastback roof and a special rear valance. The windshield was also more steeply raked than the Valiant. Plymouth placed a small Valiant badge on the front fenders just above the Duster badge for the first model year, but future model years were all Dusters.

1970 Plymouth Duster

1970 Plymouth Duster

The 1970 Duster was introduced available in standard and performance-oriented Duster 340. Engine options were 198 cubic inch and 225 cubic inch versions of Chrysler’s Slant Six, as well as the 318 cubic inch and 340 cubic inch V8s.  By midyear, Plymouth offered a Gold Duster trim package. The Gold Duster was available with either the 225 Slant Six or the 318 V8s. It had special gold stripes on the sides and rear,”Gold Duster” badging,  wall-to-wall carpeting, pleated vinyl seats, wheel covers, whitewalls,  a deluxe insulation package, and a canopy vinyl roof. The Gold Duster was available through 1975.

1971 Plymouth Duster

1970 Plymouth Duster

1971 brought small changes to the Duster. The “Duster Twister” was introduced as a new trim package. The Twister package had the same appearance as the Duster 340, but came with the base inline 6 or a 318 V8. Special exterior trim included a a matte-black hood, side stripes that mimicked the Duster 340 Wedge stripes, and the 340′s special shark-tooth grille. Available options included a nonfunctional dual hood scoop, high-back bucket seats, dual exhaust and rear spoiler appearance package. Late in the 1971 model year a new Electronic “Breakerless” Ignition system became optional on the 340 V8.

1972 Plymouth Duster

The Duster  carried on for 1972 with minor changes. Taillamps became larger one-piece units and surface-mounted side marker lights replaced the previous flush-mount side marker lights. The power rating of the 340 V8 was reduced to 245 bhp from 275 bhp due to a reduction in compression ratio as well as reducing the intake valves to 1.88 inches from 2.02 inches. Electronic ignition became standard on the 340 models in 1972.

1973 Plymouth Duster

1970 Plymouth Duster

The Duster was refreshed with similar design changes as the Valiant for 1973. The Duster received a new grille, hood, front fenders, bumpers, and taillights.  Also new for 1973 were single-piston slider-type disc brake calipers (standard on 318-powered cars and with power-assist on 340 models). Electronic ignition became standard across the board. A metal sunroof become optional for 1973. The rear window electric grid defroster/defogger replaced the previous recessed package shelf air blower.

1974 Plymouth Duster

Changes were few for 1974. Plymouth replaced the 340 with a 360 cubic inch version of the corporate LA-series V8, with lower performance due to government-imposed emissions regulations. The 1974 “E58″ 360 engine produced 245 hp. New retractable front seat belts were added. 1974 would be the Duster’s best sales year due in part to the OPEC oil embargo.

1975 Plymouth Duster

1970 Plymouth Duster

For 1975 the models were not changed significantly from the previous two years. Changes included a new grille with the return of the Plymouth ‘spear’ affixed to the grille center, catalytic converters were added to 225 Slant Six and 318 V8 models. The 360 was not equipped with a converter due to the addition of a secondary air injection system, commonly referred to as a “smog pump” and its power was rated at 235 hp.

1976 Plymouth Duster

1976 was the last year of the the Valiant based Duster. As such, changes were few. The grille-mounted park and turn signal lenses were amber versus the prior years had colorless lenses with amber bulbs. The interior rear view mirror was mounted directly to the windshield rather than to the previous double-pivot roof bracket, and the parking brake was now foot- rather than hand-operated. Disc brakes became standard on cars built after 1 January 1976. Sadly, the Duster was replaced by the Plymouth Volare.

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4 Responses to Plymouth Duster (1970 – 1976)

  1. Pingback: Dodge Dart | Stevens Virtual Automotive Museum

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  4. Jim says:

    There were 2 special economical models of the Duster and Dart Sport introduced in their last year 1976. They were called the Dart Lite and the Feather Duster. These cars averaged an impressive 36 mpg Hwy. These 1976 models can easily be identified by all the aluminum parts used on them. The Intake Manifold, Bumper and hood braces, transmission case and other parts were all aluminum. These might be a great collectable and still economical to drive with modern gas prices.

    Dusters and Dart Sports of earlier years had many rare options like sunroofs and some themed cars, There was a Space Duster that featured a seat the folded flat and gave incredible trunk space, One of the Dart Sports had a surfing theme. It was called the “Hang Ten”. Dusters and Dart Sports were both fastbacks and had very good styling. They are a great collectable today. The slant 6 engine was incredibly durable and reliable as was the 318 V8, The 340 and 360 high performance engined cars are very much in demand today.

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