During the same trip to a Los Angeles (actually Santa Fe Springs) wrecking yard that produced photographs of this junked ’89 Buick Reatta, I spotted this used-up ’75 Duster. These things were once among the most commonplace vehicles on American roads, and it seemed that most of them were this shade of green.
With the Slant Six or optional 318 V8, the Malaise Era Duster was cheap, reliable (for its time), and slightly sporty transportation. With the 230-horse 360 engine in place, the 3,115-pound Duster would eat up the heavier, less powerful ’75 Chevy Nova with ease. In fact, the power/weight numbers on the ’75 V8 Duster are pretty similar to those of the ’12 Honda Accord… though that comparison falls apart if you look at things like fuel-economy figures, comfort, or interior quality.
Plymouth used the Duster name on several platforms, starting with this one. First there was the “sporty Valiant” 1970-76 Duster, then there was the Turismo-based Duster of 1985-87 (best remembered for the legendary “Cocaine Factory” ad, above), followed by the tape-stripe-inundated Sundance-based Duster of 1992-1994. It’s too bad that Plymouth is gone, because we’d all love to see an Alfa-based Duster.
This one has been picked over pretty well. Since the late Chrysler A-body cars have brake components that bolt onto the 1960s B-bodies, you rarely see a Malaise Dart or Valiant that hasn’t had at least some of its front brake components grabbed by a disc-brake-seeking Belvedere or Coronet owner.