CC Capsule: 1973 Plymouth Duster – Not Quite A CHiPs Co-Star

Unlike a good number of our readers, I don’t have many personal memories linked to these Dusters of the ’70s. Except for a few appearing in beater condition around my high school in Puerto Rico. Instead, if I think of them is in terms of their TV show and movie appearances from the ’70s. And when modified like this one, they remind me of a car some baddie would drive in a CHiPs’ or Charlie’s Angels episode.

Not that I can exactly recall any CHiPs episode with a Duster as the antagonist’s vehicle of choice. But that doesn’t matter; in this slightly disheveled condition, with menacing red and black with tinted windows, I can easily see some hoodlum behind the wheel complicating the lives of Ponch and Jon.

How did this Duster end up in the streets of San Salvador, I’ve no idea. Considering the amount of grey imports we get over here, and the fact that American cars were quickly retreating from local showrooms back in the ’70s, I would suspect the former. But it may have been an original import as well. After all, Plymouth had a good presence in this nation through the ’50s and ’60s.

Whatever the case, this Duster has fallen into the hands of some local fan of American Iron. A small but devoted minority, that tends to customize their cars with V-8 horsepower gimmicks. As expected, this one has some mods selling the idea that this Duster is a speed monster. But it wouldn’t surprise me if all it has under the hood is a humble 6-cyl.

As for the year, I’m just making a guess. I’ve few cues to trust on this one, other than the tail lights from the ’73-76 period.

I wish I had gotten better shots of this Duster’s hips, the model’s most distinctive feature in my opinion. But gosh, the restaurant’s owner next to it was just really jumpy about me taking photos. I had to stop after grabbing a couple of shots, feigning to agree to go away. Then go around the block, and approach from a different angle to take a few more images after having a coffee in a competing restaurant (Lost my business, suckers!)

Getting back to CHiPs, I may not recall a souped-up Duster playing any big roles, but I do know they did appear. How could they not? They were everywhere back in the day. Luckily -for my sanity’s sake- I need not watch the show to confirm this, as IMCDb has screencaps to prove the case. I’ve no idea what’s happening in this scene, but that gentleman doesn’t seem too glad to be there. Jon looks slightly annoyed, and that Duster is certainly bound to the scrap heap once the credits roll.

Here’s one more Duster from another episode, this time missing its front bumper. Now, without that front bumper, this CHiPs’ Duster quite resembles my find in San Salvador… All mine is missing is an LTD riding on its back to complete the image!

Talking about CHiPs, how did those guys hear each other so clearly, while riding motorcycles on the freeway, with helmets on? My parents even had trouble hearing what I said from the back of our tiny Toyota Publica, and neither wore helmets. Then again, I was kind of a nuisance. Maybe they just pretended not to hear me.

Silly questions aside, I know there’s some great love for the Duster out there. Regrettably, the Duster seems to have been considered too humble to cast as lead character in ’70s cinema, for I remember none in such a role. As an extra, yes, but not as the main attraction. But cinema titles are vast, and I suppose I might have missed some Duster-starred vehicles (no pun intended). I’ll leave it to commenters to educate me on the matter, and we’ll bid adieu to this old Duster. Not quite a movie star this one, but it did get its five minutes here at CC.


Further reading:

Curbside Classic: 1972 Plymouth Duster 340 – The Tweaker

Curbside Classic: 1974 Plymouth Gold Duster – There’s Gold In Them Thar Hips