Junkyard Find: 1975 Plymouth Duster

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Jan 07, 2012

    A friend of mine had a black 340 Duster that ran great and he refused to sell, even after he got married. Sadly, he took it to work one night and an old guy fell asleep and crossed the center line and totaled it. My friend was ok, and the motor lives on in his 70 Dart that he recently bought as a rust free great body/totally trashed interior desert car. It had a nearly dead 318 in it, and the hopped up 340 made it a rocket. Now if he can just find all the interior parts he needs to make it into something that doesn't look like a homeless person's car inside, he will be all set.

  • Bygeorge Bygeorge on Jan 16, 2012

    Murilee, shame on you - you left out one! The Duster name was first revived for a trim package available on the 1979-1980 Plymouth Volare coupe (F-body).

  • Bd2 Jaguar's problem was chasing the Germans into the mid size and then entry-level/compact segments for volume, and cheapening their interiors while at it.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Aja8888 I expected that issue with my F150 starting at 52,000mi. luckily I had an extended warranty and it saved me almost $8,000. No more Fords for me, only Toyota.
  • Lou_BC I saw a news article on this got a different read on it. Ford wants to increase production of HD trucks AND develop hybrid and EV variants of the SuperDuty. They aren't scaling back EV production. Just building more HD's and EV variants of HD's .
  • Lou_BC Backing up accidents are one of the most common causes of low speed accidents. You'd think sensors and cameras would help.
  • Jpolicke Jaguar started making cars that were dead ringers for Kia Optimas, but less reliable. They now look like everything and nothing; certainly nothing to aspire to.