Vintage Car And Driver: Plymouth Duster 318 vs 340 – Getting Your Duster Just How You Wanted It, In 1972

Today’s vintage article details the many ways to order your Plymouth Duster, back in Sept. ’72. A whole array of options were available, and it takes Car And Driver quite a few pages to run the gamut. It’s a whole buffet to explore.


By ’72, the Valiant and its offspring loomed large in Chrysler’s sales sheets, comprising 34% of the company’s total sales. Being Car And Driver, they weren’t going to bother with the Duster’s entry model; the lowly 6cyl., which gets only a passing mention. Instead it focuses in 2 ends of the Duster’s sporty V-8s; first the base sport coupe, with a 2-barrel 318, coming at $2,407 (for the sake of comparison, import competitors are mentioned: the 2-liter Capri at $2,528, and the Opel 1900 Sport Coupe at $2528). However, the base Duster came in bare condition to meet such a price; not even a radio or A/C came along.

Car And Driver stacked the ‘stark’ 318 against a 340, optioned out to nearly $4,200.  Besides having the 340’s performance enhancements in place, the model came with other goodies too: Torqueflite transmission, A/C, radio, decor options, and more. The fun, as Car And Driver noted, was to mix and match all these options, until finding the preferred package; all depending on wallet and driving habits.

Just to choose the 340 mill over the 318 meant an additional $321 over the base price. Quite a sum in ’72, but there was more than engine costs on that choice. A heavy duty suspension, stiffer torsion bars and rear springs, plus firmer shock absorbers, came with the 340 package. On top of those enhancements, Car And Driver’s 340 added quite a few goodies: power disc brakes, bucket seats, A/C, decor package, and power assist that offered a sporty 3.3 turns lock-to-lock against the 318’s standard 5.7 turns. These, just to mention a number of choices available.

Issues of the day can’t be avoided, mainly insurance rates. To pick 340 ownership over the 318 meant heavy insurance penalties, 30% for Bodily Injury and Property Damage; and that just for starters (the list goes on). However, the beauty of the system was to avoid such penalties by getting the sporty goods of the 340 into the 318, and turn your Duster into an affordable performance package suited to your needs. Such was the game back then, if one had the automotive incline and knowledge to play along.

Further reading:

Curbside Classic: 1972 Plymouth Duster 340 – The Tweaker

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