To jazz up sales of the compact Plymouth Valiant, in 1970 Chrysler gave that model line a sportier looking fastback coupe that they named the Duster. Mechanically identical to the Valiant (and its Dodge Dart sibling), it also shared doors and sheet metal from the A pillars forward. Though the rear end of the Duster has always struck me as being a bit awkward, the concept was a hit with consumers, selling over 200,000 units the first year. Though most of the Dusters, Valiants and Darts that were made came equipped with a version of the great Slant Six, the engine bay was large enough to hold a small block V8 and Plymouth did offer the duster with the 318 and 340 V8s in a variety of performance and trim options including the “340 Wedge” package (all 340/360 Mopar V8s used a “wedge” combustion chamber design). Since the new E-Body Barracuda was significantly heavier, a Duster with the same engine was a bit quicker and the car became a popular option for muscle car enthusiasts on the cheap. At the WCP Club Great Lakes Region’s all-Mopar show, there were three duster 340s, a ’71 340 Wedge, a pretty blue 1972, and a ’73. 1973 was when new bumper standards went into effect and you can see the battering rams that resulted from those regulations.
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