The Plymouth Duster, on the compact Chrysler “A-body” platform, is in show rooms by late 1969 for the 1970 model year. The model is available only as a two door coupe through-out its production run. The new Duster shares its platform with the Valiant, and for the first year only, the sporty Duster carries the Valiant logo on the front fender above the Duster badging.
From the front cowl forward it is a Valiant and the interior is also the same as its sibling, although he sheet metal, from the cowl back, is unique to the Duster There are four engine choices in 1970; two versions of the slant six is the entry level, with a 318 cu in V8 as an option, but the 340 cu in would be the choice power for a muscle car fan. The vehicle is aimed at the budget minded consumer, with a base price of $2,172.00.00 and the 340 version could be acquired for only 400 dollars more. This entry level price is only slightly more than the Valliant’s suggested retail price in 1960, making it an attractive choice for any Chrysler fan. At this time a Mustang Mach I would cost around $3,300.00 or a Plymouth Roadrunner would set you back about $2,900.00 to put the Duster in perspective. Plymouth had great success with the Duster in 1970 with 217,192 units sold, although only 24,817 of those had a 340 under the hood.
The Gold Duster trim package is introduced late in ’70 and is available until 1975. The uptown gold version comes with the special logo, gold stripping, carpeting, pleated vinyl seats, fancy wheel covers, better insulation for soundproofing and the sporty look vinyl roof, but could only be ordered with the entry level 225 slant six or a 318 engine under the hood. The Space Duster would come with a fold down rear seat to add carrying capacity, feather Duster is a light weight choice for economy, while the 340 Duster and the 360 Duster are the highest performance versions. In 1972 the breaker less electronic ignition is basic equipment on the 340 Duster.
For 1973 the Duster has some design changes including a new hood, revised shark tooth grill, altered front fenders and the tail lights now have a chrome bezel added. The vehicle would look much the same for the remainder of its production run.
The 198 cu in (3.2 L) slant six is dropped from the line-up in 1971, with the 225 cu in (3.7 L) left as the base engine through 1976. The 318 cu in V8 engine is on the table for the entire production period, although all engine horse power ratings take a dip to conform to progressively more restrictive EPA regulations. The HP rating system also changes in ’71 dropping the rating even on engines that have not been changed at all. This new protocol makes the horse power ratings look even more restrictive than they actually are.
The 340 cu in (5.6 L) engine is dropped in ’74, with the introduction of the 360 cu in (5.9 L) power plant. The base transmission is a three speed standard with a column mounted shift stick, but there is the three speed TorqueFlite automatic or a four speed standard, mounted on the floor, offered optionally.