Remember when '70 Dusters were so common it seemed they were a dime a dozen? There are still more than a few of them around, and folks like Colorado Springs' Shaun Johnson are turning them into creations beyond the Duster's humble Valiant economy-coupe origins.
If you're worried that Shaun cut up an original Duster 340 to build the beauty that you see here, don't fret. He started out with an A-Body so basic that it didn't even have carpeting. "I started out with a plane-Jane '70 Duster, white with a green interior, and I thought that was pretty disgusting," Shaun says. "When it was judged in Vegas, a lot of people thought the same thing. I heard over and over, 'Thank God you didn't repaint it white with a green interior.'"
Shaun's good taste was evident at an early age-he was only 13 when he bought the '70. Seven years later, aided by his father and with plenty of help from local shops and his fellow Southern Colorado Mopar Club members, the Curious Yella, W2-headed, 360-powered car you see here was ready to rumble . . . sort of.
Before it got to the key-twisting stage, there was plenty of work to be done on the ancient A-Body. Thirty Colorado winters had taken their toll, especially in and around the trunk, and it had also been crunched (and badly repaired) in back. "We replaced the bottoms of the quarter-panels, the trunk floor, and trunk floor extensions," Shaun says of the restoration/remedial bodywork done by Arthur's Auto Collision and Paint in Colorado Springs. "We got our replacement sheetmetal from Auto Body Specialties. I love every piece I got from them-they're perfect."
Shaun's Duster also received plenty of attention inside, which was needed because the stock green plaid bench seats and wall-to-wall rubber floor mats had seen better days. The stock seats were yanked and replaced with a deluxe black vinyl front bucket/rear bench and black carpeting interior that Shaun installed, using Legendary Auto Interior carpet and seat kits. He also added a Rallye gauge cluster that Mr. G's rechromed. Instead of a modern-day sound system, Shaun went the original-but-when-did-you-see-one-last? route with a Mopar cassette recorder/player on the transmission tunnel, with an original Mopar AM/FM radio in the dash. He says the cassette deck was one his father had on a shelf full of Mopar parts. "About four years ago, I saw a '71 Demon that had one between the buckets and a pistol-grip, and I thought that was just the coolest thing," Shaun says of the rare Mopar sound-system option. "We decided to put the cassette player in there when we restored the Duster. The A-Body should have come with them standard."
If you want one of those for your own, or at least the outer housing for a modern-electronics upgrade, Harm's Automotive is where to look. "They're reproducing the console mount and the tranny mount for those cassette players, and they're also reproducing that outer housing so you can put a CD player in there," says Shaun, who adds that he almost took it out for Scott Smith at Harm's to reproduce. "But he'd found another one, and he's come out with it. He had the same idea-he thought putting a CD player in there would be pretty cool."
Other hardware swapped in from Ma Mopar's parts bin included a large-bolt-pattern '73 Duster front end, rebuilt with Just Suspension's rebuild kit, and an 83/4-inch, 3.91-geared Sure Grip rearend with big-bolt-pattern C-Body (Fury) axles shortened to fit their housing. Brakes are big-bolt-pattern disc front/drum rear, and wide Mopar Rallyes with custom chrome trim rings on BFG T/As fill each fenderwell. "We originally went with 225s on the front, but they were too wide and they hit the fender, so we went with 205s. In the back, we went with 275/60s. They actually stick out a little, so we had to raise the rearend just a little bit. My goal this winter is to get the Rallyes moved inboard so they fit all the way inside the wheelwell," he says.
To add looks inside where...
To add looks inside where an ugly green bench seat interior once was, Shaun added a Rallye gauge cluster, Tuff steering wheel, deluxe buckets, a pistol-grip shifter, and an original Chrysler cassette deck that his dad had.
The W2-headed 360 looks like...
The W2-headed 360 looks like it went in on the assembly line, not in Shaun Johnson's Colorado Springs, Colorado, garage.
Shaun went for "period-correct"...
Shaun went for "period-correct" items that could have been factory or dealer options, or parts-counter prizes, on his Duster. That includes these scoops and the strobe stripe between them.