Thursday, March 7, 2013

San Ramon Street Sighting - 1971 Plymouth Duster

There aren't a whole lot of good cars in my town. Actually, there are, but most are stored in garages or parked in driveways and thus are off-limits. You can actually credit my friend who was visiting from Canada for finding this one. He drove down here from Alberta and not five minutes after arriving at my house said "Hey, I saw an old Duster on the street." So away we went. I snagged this original '71 Duster just before the sun went down.

The Plymouth Duster was little more than a sports coupe version of the venerable Valiant. It came with the same slant six and V8 engines as the Valiant. The difference was that it had a cooler, more youthful appearance than the stodgy Valiant 2-door sedan. Basically, the first-generation Duster was what the (also Valiant-based) Barracuda used to be. The Duster received playful marketing to young buyers, with a small 'Dust Devil' tornado as its mascot. There was a Dodge variant, initially called the Demon but quickly changed to Dart Sport after outcry from religious groups.

This Duster looks like a basic model, possibly a six-cylinder car or a 318 V8 car due to its lack of special badging or stripes. The body is in great shape aside from some minor damage to the taillight panel and a bit of rust starting in the quarter panels behind the wheel wells. Being a lifelong California car, it's lucky not to have lived with road salt all those years, or the rust would have been much more severe. Despite being a low-spec car (or perhaps because of it), this was a fun car to photograph. I've always liked early Dusters; I think they're handsomely designed without being too fussy or boring. I'd like to see the rust and crash damage attended to on this example; a paint job in the original Sno-White color would do wonders for it.


  1. This is a really nice little car. Please thank your Canadian friend for finding it. Its the type of car that we in the northeast drool over. Not because its a Duster, but because it is nearly rust free. My feeling is that the owner is happy with this car and appreciates it's simplicity. I too, like it for what it is, but this car could be a sleeper. Dusters and Demons with 340s were hugely popular with guys I knew in high school. Some of them were badly hurt when they crashed these machines. Muscle cars of that era and curved roads were not a good combination. Sedate Dusters like this one lead a different life. When I was a sophomore, I washed a '71 Duster like this one each weekend for a 20 year old working girl named Regina. Sometimes, she would put on a bikini and help me. She knew what she was doing to me, but hey! I remember that every time I see one of these cars. I'm surprised that Dodge caved in to the religious groups who protested the Demon nameplate. If they'd taken it to the public in those rebellious times, the fanatics might have been shouted down. I guess Dodge must have feared the possibility of bad publicity and loss of sales. I think you still would have seen them in church parking lots even if they were sporting a Demon.

  2. looks like my first car, it it has a slant six and a bench front might be my old car

  3. i have one very clean if anyone wants to see it email me at