Junkyard Find: 1972 Plymouth Duster
Compared to the stodgy-and-sensible Valiant on which it was based, the Plymouth Duster was pretty sporty and sold well to coupe shoppers who wanted a cheap car that could handle indifferent maintenance and bad road conditions (the Zaporozhets not being available in the United States). These things were amazingly reliable for the era, when not so many cars made it to 100,000 miles, but most were discarded like empty pull-tab Burgie cans during the 1980s. The Duster survivors today tend to be lovingly restored trailer queens. That makes the 1970-76 Duster a rare Junkyard Find, so I broke out the camera immediately when I saw this ’72 in a Northern California wrecking yard.
Yes, you could still buy a Detroit car with four-wheel drum brakes as late as 1972. If you don’t like it, buddy, you can just move to Sweden!
I considered buying the A/C control panel, figuring that it’s probably worth something. Then I came to my senses.
Unlike rolling stones, cars that sit outdoors in the shade in Northern California tend to gather moss.
Back when it used to rain during the winter in this region, outdoor-stored cars would rust in areas in which water pooled.
For $73.95 more than the Chevy Vega, you could get the Duster with 15 more horsepower and whitewall tires!
BklynPete on Mar 23, 2015
My old man had a '73 Valiant with the Slant 6, A/T, A/C and drum brakes. He had custom-ordered one with disc brakes but a factory strike delayed delivery. He got a fancier Custom model, crap brown with black vinyl roof, off the lot for less money. Ultimately the wrong move. The car was reliable but those brakes were miserable,especially in rain, plus you really couldn't climb some hills with A/C on. After a few years, some rust spots appeared, the brakes were annoying, the ride was noisy and my mother pushed my dad to get a similar-sized '78 Buick Century to match her LeSabre company car.. Yes, the aero back. Huge improvement all around over the Valiant. The v-6 was stronger on hills though no hell raiser. That one went 12 years and 139k miles before it was stolen off a Brooklyn street. The cops actually found it fairly intact, but I decided it wasn't worth putting back together. We sold the Valiant for $1700 to a cousin in the oil business who wanted his guys driving nondescript cars.
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