The Next Generation
There could be only one high-points winner at the '01 Mopar Nationals, and when the staff completed the Young Guns judging, Cory Pant and his modified '74 Plymouth Duster came out on top. Cory's project began at the impressionable age of 15 when he purchased the A-Body from his uncle for $100. At the time, Cory says his stepdad drove it a few times until the garage was ready, then they spent the next 3 1/2 years resurrecting the Duster. Here's how he did it.
Cory Pant, Centerville, MI
How I Built My Hot Rod as told by Cory Pant
Once we began work on the car, after school I would come home and head straight for the garage. Nights, weekends, and any after-work free time was spent working on the Duster, and it didn't really look too bad until the body came home from the media blaster. Since the Duster lived its entire life in Michigan, 23 years of harsh weather had taken its toll. Wow, I thought I wouldn't be able to fix it, it looked that bad. After the initial shock wore off, though, I realized I could afford to put some time and money into it.
First on the list was replacing the rotted pieces of sheetmetal with new stuff. After all, since it isn't very cool to have your feet hitting the road while you're driving, both front floorpans were replaced. The exterior sheetmetal was also in need of attention, so we also replaced the driver-side front inner fender, the passenger-side door post, as well as the entire trunk floor and both rear quarter-panels. Finally, we decided to replace the taillight panel since it was showing a little rust as well. I initially decided to build the car for racing, so I added a fiberglass hood and bumpers at this time. Once all of the metal repairs were made, I sent the body to KN Enterprises in Schoolcraft, Michigan, to be covered in a Deep Amethyst base/clear paint.
Originally, the car had a cream-colored interior, and since I was building what I wanted, I changed that to black. I had Jack Moore of Sturgis, Michigan, re-cover the seats and door panels with a black/gray combination of cloth, then install new black carpeting as well as a fresh headliner. A custom dash panel built by myself rests in the factory location and houses Autometer gauges. Since good tunes are a must, I installed a Clarion stereo with a CD player and Clarion speakers. To finish off the interior, a Grant steering wheel was added, and for safety, a six-point rollbar encompasses the cockpit. For fun, I added lights behind the 340 numbers inside the hoodscoop.
To power the Duster, a 340 block was given to Hi-Rev Machine in Granger, Indiana, where it was bored .030 over to produce 348 ci. I then assembled it myself using the stock rods and crankshaft, building up the compression using Wiseco 10.5:1 forged pistons. The aluminum Edelbrock heads pull fuel from the 750 Dominator carburetor through an Edelbrock Torker II intake.
The transmission is a Coan Engineering- built 727 with a quick draw 3,500-stall converter, which connects to the 8 3/4-inch rear stuffed with 4.30 Richmond gears. The tire-and-wheel combo consists of Ultra Wheels measuring 15x7 in the front wrapped in M/T Sportsmans and the rear Ultras are 15x10 with 26x11.5 Hoosier Quick Time Pros.
When the car was completed, I realized it was too nice to pound the quarter-mile in constantly, but this doesn't mean it hasn't seen the track. The best time to date is 12.2 at 111 mph. The sole purpose of my car is for enjoyment. Whether I go to the track, a car show, or a cruise night, I do it because I enjoy the hobby of cars.