Ditching the Slant Six and...
Ditching the Slant Six and the automatic, Dean and Mason Schoen dropped in this 340LA small-block with factory iron heads, a Comp Cams bumpstick, Mopar valves, Comp springs, and an Edelbrock Performer intake with a Holley double-pumper feeding the hungry engine. But this Duster isn't without amenities, such as power brakes and steering.
Aside from the Grant GT wheel,...
Aside from the Grant GT wheel, at first glance most of the interior is stock appearing. A Rallye dash was lifted from a donor '70 340 Duster and fitted with new gauges. Apart from that, new seat covers, carpet, dashpad, door panels, visors, and rear seat panels were all restored.
With the aftermarket offering...
With the aftermarket offering nearly everything under the sun for classic Mopar musclecars, it's no longer a struggle to have a car looking better than the day it rolled off the showroom floor.
There's a world of responsibility required when it comes to raising children-providing them with food, clothing, shelter, the resources to grow into successful and responsible adults, and introducing them to the fun things of life: music, movies, and other interests.
Dean Schoen of San Jose, California, is a great father. he not only works hard to give his family what they need, but he still finds time to have fun with them. The owner of an original '66 Plymouth Satellite with a factory 426 Hemi and a four-speed, Dean is no novice when it comes to the power of a Mopar. his first car was a '71 340, four-speed 'Cuda that he purchased during his service in the Navy. So when the time was right, Dean wanted to introduce his oldest son Mason to the world of Mopars.
As far as personal taste, there's not a lot of room to say which cars are cooler than others. But when we get mail exclaiming that "all the good musclecars have been bought up, cut up, crushed, or rusted into scrap," we can't help but think that many of these complainers are just not looking hard enough. Many would-be enthusiasts search a few auto trader magazines, look online for a while, and maybe ask around to a couple friends before finally giving up. But not Dean, he kept his ear to the ground for a year before stumbling across this '71 Plymouth Duster on sale at the nearby Goodguys event in 2004.
The Duster was in bad shape after spending years underneath a pine tree. The A-Body's paint was blotchy and faded; the upholstery was torn, cracked, and weathered; the carpet was wet and moldy; and the body needed some serious rehabilitation. But it was a good foundation to start his project, so the Slant Six automatic car was picked up for $1,000 in cash and brought home.
The first phase of the build required Dean and Mason to clean the Duster as best they could and drive it to the body shop. That feat required pillows and a blanket to protect themselves from the springs protruding from the seats. The industrial steam cleaning shop revealed the Duster was in better condition than originally estimated. The body that initially looked bad only suffered from minor rot in the usual places: the lower quarters and trunk floor. The high-temperature steam cleaning also blasted the caked-on grease, grime, and road debris from the undercarriage and suspension.
In the short time this little...
In the short time this little blue Duster has been on the road, Dean and Mason have racked up over 1,300 miles on the clock. That's what we call a street machine.
Returning the Plymouth back to the home garage, Dean and his son began disassembling it, replacing the front fenders and hood with pieces from a donor '71 Valiant found at a local salvage yard. A chemical stripper melted off layers of factory paint, bringing out the original sheetmetal. (A topical chemical stripper is just as effective as other medias and free of harmful aftereffects, such as the abrasiveness of sand blasting or acidity of chemical dipping.) Hours of vacuuming also pulled out pounds of pine needles from the dash, air ducts, and cowl.
Many restorations come to a screeching halt when it comes time to paint because the cost of taking a project vehicle to a professional shop is often out of most people's budget. Dean's first estimate at a local body shop was over double what he was expecting. His second estimate was still too expensive, so he opted to have the bodywork conducted at the local shop and then take the finished, straightened product to a nearby Maaco for a single-stage shot of Glacial Blue Metallic.
Dean and Mason, now with money left in their budget, began getting together the correct powertrain for the Plymouth. A west coast Mopar salvage yard listed a '70 Duster with the right four-speed transmission and 8-3/4 rearend, but it lacked the desired 340 small-block. Unfortunately, the seller refused to part out the car, so the Schoens purchased the complete car. The donor Duster gave up most of its running gear, including transmission, rearend, torsion bars, leaf springs, disc brake components, four-speed pedal assembly, steering column, Rallye dash, seats, and the four-speed floor hump.
It took several months after they picked up the Duster at the Goodguys event to land a good deal on an original 340 block, crankshaft, and rods, which they finally found at the Las Vegas Mopars at the Strip show in 2005. Dean's brother, Russ, pitched in a set of cast-iron 340 heads. The painted Duster occupied most nights and weekends for the father/son team as they installed factory torsion bars and leaf springs, as well as new bushings for the front suspension. The original door panels were cleaned, and new Legendary seat covers were wrapped around the donated bench seats. Year One supplied the medium blue carpet as well as other smaller components. A Grant GT wheel was paint matched, and a Pioneer sound system was installed. The smaller components pertaining to the suspension and mechanicals were sandblasted before being repainted and installed.
The 340 block, accompanied by a box full of parts, was sent off to Dave's Vette Shoppe in Citrus Heights, California. The 340 was bored .040-inches over and fitted with Keith Black Silv-O-Lite 10.2:1 compression pistons. Chrysler's stock rods and crankshaft worked perfectly, and a Comp Cams .477/.480-lift hydraulic cam controls the top end. The top end consists of brother Russ' Chrysler heads, mildly ported and loaded to the gills with Mopar valves, Comp Cams springs, and stock Chrysler rocker arms. An Edelbrock Performer intake with a Holley 650 double-pumper and electronic Mopar Performance ignition finishes off the grocery list of goodies. A pair of tti ceramic-coated headers are married to 2-1/2-inch pipes, and then exit through a pair of Dynomax Super Turbo mufflers. The manual A833 four-speed spins a Centerforce clutch and is rowed by a Hurst long-arm shifter. The pilfered Chrysler 8-3/4 rear houses a Sure Grip with 3.23 gears, making the drivetrain complete and street friendly.
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.