Once finished, Dean and Mason opted to adorn the Duster with the appropriate 340 side stripes and markings, making it a 340 Duster clone rather than just a Slant Six sleeper. Lightweight and agile, this A-Body Plymouth packs plenty of punch.
The Duster came together faster than Dean expected, and he now plans to accompany his son while driving his '66 Hemi Satellite while cruising this year's Hot August Nights, a car show in Reno, Nevada. The labor and tenacity his son exhibited has made Dean Schoen a very proud father indeed.
'71 Plymouth Duster • Dean Schoen • San Jose, CA
Engine: Found at the '05 Mopars at the Strip show in Las Vegas, this LA-block 340 was been bored .040-inches over and filled with a factory 340 crank and rods, while mated up to Keith Black-built Silv-O-Lite 10.2:1 pistons. A Comp Cams .477/.480-lift hydraulic camshaft was slipped in to control the valve timing. Donated Chrysler 340 cast-iron heads have been ported and polished fitted with Mopar Performance valves, Comp Cams springs, and Chrysler stamped rockers. An Edelbrock Performer RPM intake topped with a Holley 650 double-pumper carburetor feeds the little engine that can. A Mopar Performance electronic distributor fires at command. TTI ceramic headers tunnel the spent gases through Dynomax Turbo mufflers and aluminized 211/42-inch tubes.
Transmission: Dean wanted to make the plain-Jane Duster into a V-8, four-speed street fighter, so a transplant A833 four-speed was yanked from the rusted hulk of a '70 Duster donor car. A Centerforce clutch and a factory-appearing Hurst shifter are the only modifications to the otherwise stock configuration. The '70 Duster also gave up its transmission hump for Dean's '71 Duster.
Rearend: the aforementioned donor Duster also provided this B2 blue Plymouth with the appropriate 8-3/4 Chrysler rearend housing and differential. The Sure Grip lost its original 3.91 gears, which were replaced with more streetable 3.23s.
Horsepower & Performance: Neither Dean nor Mason relinquished any timeslips to us, so we actually don't know. What we do know is the ease this A-Body is able to haze the rubber, and that's all that matters.
Suspension: The front torsion bars and rear leaf springs were yanked from the eviscerated Duster, while the rest of the suspension components were pulled, sandblasted, and repainted; the control arms received new polygraphite bushings. A new anti-sway bar was also bolted up front to assist in the A-Body's agility. The pilfered leaf springs were media-blasted and painted. The factory power steering unit was disassembled and rebuilt along with the pump. Monroe and Gabriel shocks are mounted front and back.
Brakes: Pulled from the same donor parts car, the '71 Duster sports factory '70 Plymouth front discs and rear drums.
Wheels: Wanting to retain the classic look of the original-style Rallyes, Dean and Mason went with Wheel Vintiques' fully polished billet Rallyes, 15x7 in front and 15x8 out back.
Rubber: The Schoens opted for Goodyear Eagle 225/60/15s up front and 255/60/15s in back.
Body: After being steam-stripped, the body work was farmed out to a local San Jose, California, shop. the original front clip was replaced with one from a '71 Plymouth Valiant because the fenders and hood of the Valiant were identical to the Duster's and in better condition. In its original state, the Duster needed some cancer removal from the lower quarters and trunk floor. Once the sheetmetal was replaced and blended in, the bodywork could be handled. Both front and rear bumpers were pulled and sent off to be straightened and rechromed, while the driprail trim pieces and front and rear window trim were polished and reinstalled.
Paint: Due to budgetary reasons, the Duster was straightened by a local shop and then sent off to the local Maaco for a single stage of B2 Glacial Blue Metallic paint. The single-stage paint holds up pretty well. The side stripes were laid by Dean's brother, Russ, and give the Duster that authentic 340 Duster appearance.
Interior: Both the front split-bench and the rear seats came from the aforementioned donor Duster. Both benches were recovered with Legendary two-toned blue vinyl covers. A new dashpad, carpet, and headliner came from Year One, while the Rallye dash was scavenged from the same rustbucket '70 Plymouth. New gauges, a Grant GT wheel, and the dash face were painted by the Schoen men to match the new paint. The original door panels and sun visors were in such good shape that they only needed a vigorous scrubbing. Most of the original interior trim was preserved, and the new transmission hump was welded in. A new heater core was installed, and the heater housing and fresh air assemblies were pulled, cleaned, repainted, and reinstalled. A Pioneer CD/stereo was installed with four speakers.