The rear quarters got massaged and stretched to fit the big Hoosier meats. Between them is
When you hear Dale Renner's Duster, you'd think you're hearing a big-block...until he take
The full-on chrome-moly 12-point rollcage is painted FM3 Moulin-Rouge just like the body.
If you had the chance to go back in time and order a Mopar that you could build up in the future, what would you pick? a high-optioned, Hemi-powered Road Runner or Charger? a 'Cuda or a Challenger?
Or would you go the "less is more" direction and spec out something with few factory options (meaning less stuff to take off later)?
Harleysville, Pennsylvania's Dale and Kathy Renner's '70 Duster could well have been one of those latter cars. as its fender tag indicates, it was built with very few factory options at Hamtramck on July 30, 1970. That late build date--about a month after production typically ended for model changeover--was likely the result of strong first-year Duster sales, which beat those of its predecessor, the "boxtop" Valiant two-door sedan, by about seven to one.
On the car's fender tag are codes for only these options: a 318 V-8, a three-speed manual transmission with floor shifter, interior dcor group with black bucket seats, wide sill moldings, an AM radio, and extra-cost Moulin Rouge paint. No power steering or brakes, no tinted glass, and no vinyl top.
Some years later, there wasn't much more on it when Dale first laid eyes on it as a lad of 16. Other than a coat of Sassy Grass Green paint, wide-tread tires and aluminum slots, a ratchet shifter, and a '71-'72 Duster 340 grille, there wasn't a lot on this A-Body.
Eventually, other things in life (i.e., wife, kids, and family obligations) took precedence over the Duster, which waited patiently until Dale's life settled enough to allow him to go racing again and able to make his long-parked A-Body into something more than just a low-option stocker.
The Duster became an annual winter project, getting more and more radical mods and upgrades each winter. That's when Dale found out about the Duster's heritage from Hamtramck. "When I tubbed it, I found out it was an original Moulin Rouge car," Dale recalls. "I wasn't really a `numbers' guy, and I wasn't really worried about it, but when my wife said, `Wow, that's a weird color,' I started decoding the fender tag and whoa, it's a factory pink car."
Not only was it tubbed and back-halved, it later got the full-zoot chrome-moly round-tube frame treatment, complete with a 12-point rollcage thanks to Vanishing Point Race Cars. They also added the front and (four-link) rear suspension with coilovers. In back, the four-link suspension cradles a narrowed 9-inch rearend that sports Moser axles and a 4.88-geared center section.
Dale fabbed the dash himself, using Mopar Performance gauges.
From the beginning, the car was built to be a family cruiser. The back seat is for the Ren
Dale and his father soon after Dale bought the car. At the time, it was Sublime.
That's serious hardware...but the engine and transmission are just as serious, even though the powerplant is still an LA-series engine. A 340 replaced the 318, and the '70-vintage block was treated to 13.5 slugs, a set of heads were ported and polished by Dave Pennypacker (who has been into Mopar small-blocks for nearly 40 years) and filled with 2.08-inch intake and 2.02-inch exhaust valves, a Mopar Performance cam (.598 lift/312-degree duration), a Mopar M1 intake wearing a 850 Holley carburetor, an MSD 6AL box and billet distributor, and a 4-inch Spin Tech exhaust fabbed by Gary Naughton. That's a combination that Dale figures is good for about 580-600 hp.
Replacing the three-by-the-knee is a Wooflite 727 built by Jeff "Woo" Weinhold that features a Trans Specialties 5,500-stall converter and a Hurst shifter.
The Unitbody was returned to its original FM3 Moulin Rouge hue (what The Dodge Boys called Panther Pink) after it was cherried out, got its quarter openings stretched, and its fuel-filler and antenna holes smoothed by Rich Mitman's crew at Top Notch Body Worx. The stock hood gave way to a US Body Source 'glass one with a Six Pack scoop.
Inside, the Duster's factory seats were replaced by a pair of Kirkey Drag Buckets and a custom rear "side-kick" seat. Jim Hartman Upholstery stitched 'em up, as well as the custom door panels. The dash was done by Dale, who replaced the stock gauge cluster and glovebox with an ultra-clean aluminum insert holding Mopar Performance gauges, heat/defrost controls, and the coolest radio/glovebox door delete this side of an Advanced Styling studio.
Unlike many of the tribute cars around today that are clones of factory-built Hemis and other rare musclecars, Dale built this car as a tribute to his dad, a Mopar enthusiast who passed on his passion for Plymouths and Dodges to his son. "I wanted to do it the way we always talked about," Dale says about the plans that both Renners had for this car, before his father passed away. "We always talked about doing it `off the map,' and that's what I hope we accomplished. Everyone that knew my father was involved with it."
What's it like to drive? "All my buddies say that it takes off like a Pro Stocker, but it handles like a Cadillac," Dale says. "It's got a lot of compression in it, so it actually sounds like a Pro Stocker. When I'm at a show, no one believes that it's a small-block because it's really loud."
We hear you, Dale.
Engine: '70 340 block with X heads. The head's have been opened up to accept 2.08-inch intake and 2.02-inch exhaust valves (polished and ported by Dave Pennypacker). Up top is a Mopar M1 intake with a Holley 850-cfm carburetor. Squeeze is accomplished by 13.5:1 compression pistons, and a Mopar Performance camshaft (with .598 lift and 312-degree duration) opens the bigger valves. A MSD 6AL ignition module and billet distributor, plus a four-inch Spin Tech exhaust finish out the breathing.
Transmission: a 727 TorqueFlite modified by Jeff "Woo" Weinhold, with a Trans Specialties 5,500-rpm stall converter and Hurst shifter.
Rearend: Dale ventured away from Mopar here and used a narrowed FoMoCo 9-inch rearend with a 4.88-geared center section and Moser axles.
Horsepower & Performance: Estimated horsepower: 580-600. Estimated quarter-mile performance: better than the 11-second runs it made before it was tubbed.
Frame: Round-tube chrome-moly K-frame, installed by Vanishing Point Race Cars (includes 12-point rollcage and back-halving)
Suspension: Front: double wishbone with coilovers; Rear: Four-link with coilovers. Installed by Vanishing Point race Cars.
Brakes: Wilwood four-wheel disc brakes.
Wheels: Center Line Warriors: 15x4 up front and a street-friendly 15x10 inches on the rear.
Rubber: Front: Mickey Thompson front Runners; Rear: Hoosier Quick-Time Pros, 33x22.5 inches.
Body: Original steel '70 Valiant Duster body with '71-'72 Duster 340 grille, stretched rear quarter-panel openings, filled in gas cap and antenna openings, Pentastar-shaped hood pins, and a US Body Source fiberglass Six Pack hood. Bodywork by Top Notch Body Worx.
Paint: FM3 Moulin Rouge (car's original color, per fender tag), with '73-style side stripes and '71-'72-style rear stripe. Paint prep/paint by Top Notch Body Worx.
Interior: Dash: Mopar Performance gauges and OEM-style heater/defroster controls mounted in aluminum insert designed and hand-fabricated by Dale and Kathy Renner. (No provisions for radio or glovebox door.) Front seats: Kirkey Drag Buckets in place of stock buckets. Rear seat: Custom rear "sidekick" seat in place of stock bench. Door panels: Custom designed/fabricated, replacing stock ones. Upholstery: Black tweed with black leather inserts. Interior work/upholstery by Jim Hartman Upholstery.