If my fellow Curb Dwellers read the post I did last evening about that Isuzu Diesel Longbed, you may remember I am spending some time being “a wife” down in toney Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Maseratis, Bentleys, a few million BMW’s and I even spotted a rare Maybach while out and about today. However, I was lucky enough to get two Curbside Classic spottings in one day, my first full day here. That Isuzu is one and the other is this Duster.
As I was returning to my luxury car ensconced Comanche after dropping a couple hundie of someone else’s money, I gathered the following previously seen image.
As I was doing so, this robins egg blue bondo queen was slowly driving down the adjacent parking aisle. “Oh please pull into a parking spot,” was my only thought. We Curb Dwellers are fortunate this guy thinks the way Jutta does as he pulled into the next parking spot.
As he was getting out I mentioned that I was a car guy and contributed to a blog about old cars and would he mind if I gathered some images of it. “Sure,” he replies, “you could have waited until I walked away to shoot them.” In my mind I am hearing Paul say, “Yeah, but then I won’t get the story.”
It turns out Jeff has owned this car for 31 years, having purchased it “when it was six.”
Chrysler produced a ton of this A body style back in the early-mid 70’s and sold them as lower end Dodges and Plymouths. I would suspect many of them had the 225 slant 6 this one possesses. “Just over 300,000 miles and it’s never been apart,” Jeff relays. “It did have to have the TorqueFlite transmission rebuilt back in 91 but that is the only major work I’ve had done to it.”
I politely declined to comment on the major bondo treatment to the rear quarters. And, after chatting it up about the durability of that slant 6, he had to shuffle off to work and this longrooffan headed out to spend some more of my friend’s money.
But man, I love me some vintage dog dish hubcaps!
What memories! Between my best friend/college roommate and I, we had 4 of these A bodies – 3 Dusters and a Scamp. 3 slant 6s and a 318, which was probably about the ratio overall. I am here to tell you, a 318 Duster with a 3 speed on the floor would absolutely fly. I cannot imagine a 340.
My friend Dan had multiple mishaps in his Dusters. Like when he set the back seat on fire when he threw a cigarette butt out the window on the interstate. I will never forget his description of yanking the seat cushion out and tearing smoldering stuffing out along the highway. He also hid his cigarettes in the little compartment behind the fresh air door under the dash. When the cigs came up missing, he thought he had been busted. Then when it got cold and he turned on the heater, it blew shredded tobacco and filters onto the carpet for weeks.
I could go on for days on these cars. But will stick with two more random thoughts. First, this car looks so much more graceful today than it did then. Second, isn’t it strange how this baby blue color has completely disappeared from the automotive pallet since the early 80s. This color was a staple from the late 40s all the way through the late 70s and even into the mid 80s on some cars. Then it completely vanished. Anyway, a fabulous find.
JP, those A-bodies with V8’s would move pretty well. My 1969 Valiant Signet coupe with 318 and 4-speed was a genuinely fast car. Even with *all that extra top-line trim* it didn’t weigh much, and surprised quite a few people around here while I had it. And my 1976 Dart Pursuit with its 360 and 727 Torqueflite was the best-handling A-body car I’ve had – it would outhandle my 1967 383 Barracuda and was nearly as fast.
I agree with you on the baby blue…I think it disappeared because any car that looked good in that color would look better in most any other color.
My Step Mother when she arrived at our house marrying my Dad in 1977, her car was a ’72 Plymouth Scamp – same robin’s blue/baby blue color as the featured Duster – white vinyl top. Car was bought new at Moyer Chrysler-Plymouth in Redwood City. License plate frame said “To Know Me Is To Love Me”. Total girly car. The 70’s equivalent of a New Beetle or Accord Coupe.
Total sleeper. 318/727 Torqueflite. Zoom Zoom Zoom. Shut down some friends’ 1) 1966 Fairlane GT(390 3-deuce/C-6 setup); 2) 1969 Mach 1 (351 4V Windsor – no surprise there!); 3) 1966 Chevelle SS 396 (found out speed racer went from 1st to 3rd gear – TH400 manual shifting for race – ooops).
Suprised look on some of those faces when the ’72 Scamp’s 1970-Dart-Tailight/Bumper combo was moving away from them – in a lady’s car!
318 was a 2-bbl Calif. smog car too! Front end would start to lift off the ground at 90-95mph. Car was wearing E78x14 belted whitewall Atlas tires.
Rotation and airborne! Scary fun! I can only imagine what a 318 stick, much less a 340 would do (yes, I do – 340 Dusters were the “poor man’s ‘Cuda”).
Never mind baby blue. Color in general has disappeared from the automotive palette. The vast majority of cars today are offered in: black, white, variations of grey, variations of beige, and the occasional token dark blue or red tossed in.
So loved seeing this car on the Internet. I had the exact same one and same color. Brought tears to my eyes reading your post. I would give anything to still have the car.
Golden Commando power
hey, so there’s a little plastic in the fenders, it still looks great and makes a distinctive daily driver. The same kind of service people get out of old Volvos and Benzes without the expensive parts. Rock on.
Back in those days American cars were still widely considered the gold standard for durability and reliability (that was about to end, but many of us didn’t know it yet). Of course in Ole Yerp, people knew how to get the most out of 2CVs, Kaefers, and Pugs but that did require a great deal of frequent tinkering. American cars were fill-the-tank-and-forget-about-it reliable at a time when Euro and Japanese cars were still toy-like and fragile. Unfortunately, the combination of clueless gov’t regulators, greedy corporate parasites, and corrupt union officials would soon destroy the American auto industry’s greatest strengths. And to this day I simply cannot imagine buying a new “American” car, not ever. The bigger they are, the harder they fall…
Certain models of MB were known for their durability, mostly just the strippo taxicab 190 models. Fancy MBs have always been finicky PITAs, from the very first S-class on. Volvo and Saab were making amazing cars, but for the asking price then there was little reason to chose one over an American “compact”
sedan. Few Americans wanted to spend Coupe de Ville money on a Valiant 770 equipment level in ’74, though by ’82 that would actually become the fashionable thing to do — along with shaggy sheep corpse seat covers to hide the shame of petrochemical upholstery in a pricey, “upscale” vehicle…
For some reason just about anything with a /6 (or I6, for that matter) and dog dish hubcaps is hugely appealing to me these days… When these cars were new I was a teen. Lots of people I knew bought these with the /6 and 3-on-the-tree; I thought they were “dorky” then. Now I find them quite lustworthy… Curious how the passing of time can alter one’s ideas about what’s “classic” and what’s not.
The car I bought after I got home from the air force in 1973 was a 1970 Duster. It was only a step or two removed from a Modet T in terms of features. 225, torqueflite, white w/blue interior. Nothing else. The radio was one of those cheap aftermarket affairs that had the speaker built into the bottom and sounded awful.
Unfortunately, this car was bought from a crooked Chrysler/Plymouth dealership and it had some serious issues. I paid our family mechanic to fix it and drove it until the day dad retired a couple of months later, when I found a beautiful 1972 Nova and bought that. I gave the car to my parents and mom drove it until early 1979 when she bought a new car detailed in the 1966 post.
My buddy up the street had a 1970 340 Duster that was incredibly fast! That car was in much better shape than mine!
These A bodies were simplicity personified.
Northern California had many crooked Chry-Ply outlets.
Remember going with Dad to S.F. car show at the Cow Palace in gas-crunched, recession riddled ’74. Seemed every domestic (American) manufacturer had strippers displayed. Remember seeing clearly a ’74 Duster in the metallic green GSA color with green taxi-like vinyl seats, black rubber floor mats, 3-on-the-tree and slant six (radio delete).
Plain Duster was like an Imperial when compared to the bare-bones ’74 AMC Gremlin stripper at the same show – Eastern European Communist austere to the max, although by ’74 AMC cars had (finally) ditched the vaccum windshield wipers! (cue in “Song Of the Volga Boatmen”).
I drove one of these last week. Compared to a sedan, there was zero visibility with the small mirrors and tiny windows. It was discouraging enough to make me take a second look at the ’65 Fairlane 500 that was parked next to it instead.
Too bad, it was a nice looking car.
Did it have a jumping speedometer? I remember the sliding bench seat that would slide into the back notch on a left turn…
Not that I noticed. I didn’t drive it long enough to find out… I was more concerned about not being able to see outside the car. There’s a used car lot in my neighborhood that looks like the guy lives there and sells whatever projects he runs out of time, money, or patience to complete.
He had a nice MG B that I really wanted, but he sold it before I got a chance.
Real nice old car ,our local Chryslers had a different body by 71and a Hemi 6 but there is one of these on trademe quite rare in this neck of the woods but BOG filled guards and Chrysler products go hand in hand the mechanicals are indestuctable the bodies not so tough.
I had a ’73 duster, avocado green, 225 slant six, 3 on the tree-new. It was a wedding present from my parents.
I remember the salesman saying something like, “you know new cars always have some things wrong with them– just bring it in and we’ll fix it”. Bring it in we did, time after time in the first 6 months ago. The gearshift lever hit the dashboard in 3rd, the heater hoses fell off on our feet, etc. It took them a while to assemble it properly.
After the first few months is was solid as a rock– until it started to rust out at about 7 years. In ’80 we moved to California, and a car with big rust holes was quite a novelty. No A/C, so it was pretty miserable here. We traded it in for a Prelude in ’81. I don’t remember the mileage but it was still running well.
A friend moved out here with an Avocado green Dart from New York. I had never seen a rusted out car before, growing up in the West. The right torsion bar mount had actually rusted out so he had air suspension, a Monroe air shock, in the right front corner.
Nice find. The most interesting variant is probably the Feather Duster – a light weight, fuel economy special.
I’ve had a number of experiences with these cars. A family friend got into drag racing in a big way, at the tender age of 12 I was helping to assemble and pit a 340 powered Duster. We did really well with the first car (they eventually went through three of them), and the experience left me wanting one of these cars.
These cars were as common as robins, even in GM dominant NE Ohio, and lots of people I knew had at least one. I had a schoolboy friend who’s father worked at the Twinsburg Chrysler assembly, the family owned about 7 of these.
His father tired of the 1975 Dart Sport (with 360 V8) gas mileage (when you have five kids, every dollar counts) and sold it to me for $2000 in 1980. It was hardly driven and in quite good shape. I did the normal 17 year old guy thing, installed a Pioneer AM/FM tape deck (the Supertuner!), put air shocks in the back, bolted on some really big fat tires and proceeded to hoon all around my patch of NE Ohio. It was quicker than my previous car, a 390 Fairlane.
The car reached an ignominious end. In November of the same year, I was crossing a bridge when I encountered black ice. The car, still jacked up on the air shocks in the rear and with the increasingly bald rear tires, didn’t maintain traction on the icy surface, and I slammed tail first into the bridge guard rails. I then bounced across the bridge deck several times and managed to smash every panel except the roof.
When I was done, I had taken a fairly cherry car and turned it into a pile of crap. I sought several estimates to repair the damage, but they were far too high for me to have the work done, so I sold it off as scrap. Since I only kept the minimum insurance necessary on the car, I was stuck replacing it with whatever I could find cheaply.
In the 90’s, I was living in Atlanta, Georgia, where my elderly neighbor had a get together with some of her equally elderly friends every Sunday afternoon. One of them drove an absolutely perfect 1974-ish Duster, slant six, in gold with the little half vinyl roof. This went on for the whole time we lived there, but after a while I noticed that the lady in the Duster wasn’t showing up anymore. It turned out that Ethel had passed and that her grandson had gotten the Duster.
Damn! If I had only let them know I was interested in it…
“If I had only let them know I was interested in it…”
geozinger, if you knew how often I said that very same thing!
I had a 1976 Dart Lite with the 225 and 4 speed – I believe the 4th gear was an overdrive ratio. That was a very sharp car – my kids referred to it as the “race car”. It was a root beer brown with white interior with black dash, black carpeting and panel accents. Bucket seats, PS, PB, A/C. Of course I put a cassette deck in it as soon as I could. I bought that car when my wife went back to work in spring, 1983 and kept it for three years. The car was slow as molasses, but got good mileage, which is what I wanted in the first place, but it also looked very good, too! Shoulda kept it longer.
Having just totaled a pristine 1967 Old Holiday Coupe…………..
Dad went and purchased a brand new 1970 Gold Duster (slant six) which stayed in the family for the next 12 years until rust took over.
Found this period ad… http://i.imgur.com/JJbk7.jpg