Richard Conner was 18 years old when he bought a brand new '74 Plymouth Duster. The original Sahara Beige with beige vinyl interior car came factory-equipped with a 360 4-bbl and automatic trans, making the little A-Body a great ride for a young man in his teens. Richard used the car daily until 1976, when an accident destroyed the front end. With only 32,000 miles on the clock, Richard sold the engine and transmission and put the money toward other necessities.
The car sat for 19 years, until Richard decided it was time to rebuild the Duster in 1994. The first step was to acquire a drivetrain for the car to replace the original he had sold all those years before. To make the car as exciting as possible, Richard decided a small block was out of the question-it had to be a big block! A '68 440 was brought to his friend Junior Amos, owner of Amos' Garage, where the work would begin. Most of the engine's stock parts were replaced, with the exception of the rods, pistons, and crank. The 915 heads were ported and polished, getting new Manley valves and springs along the way. A Comp Cams Competition Plus cam with 284-degree duration and .484-inch lift was slid into the block. Spark is delivered from a Mopar Performance ignition and distributer, and to supply fuel, a Six Pack intake with a trio of Holley carbs was added. The spent gases are sent through McCandles Performance headers with Flowmasters, and three-inch pipes exit the rear of the car. A manual valve body-equipped 727 was bolted to the engine and sends the power back to an 831/44 rear fitted with 4.10 gears and a Sure Grip.
The exterior of the Duster was brought back at Smith Paint and Body in Callands, Virginia. Instead of using the original hues, Richard wanted a new look, so white base coat/clear coat was applied, with a black scooped hood, body stripes, and custom "Six Pack" and "440" call outs. Completing the look is a set of Chrysler Rallye 14x5 on the front with 215/75R14 and 15x7 with 275/60R15 on the rear. Inside, everything was left stock, with the exception of the seats and door panels, which were recovered in gray cloth. An Autometer five-inch tach was added to keep track of the shift points and red line.
Richard told us that if it wasn't for his friend Junior, his interest in the little A-Body might never have been renewed, and the car would still be sitting in the same spot it had resided for years. With six months of hard work, and many thanks to his family and friends, his Duster is ready to show.