Alligators swimming in sewers. Politicians telling us nothing but the truth. Hemi convertibles stored on blocks since Vietnam. Hey, we all know some urban legends, and we quickly figure out most of them are not true.
When it came to street racing back in the day, there were urban legends that abounded in the car culture. You know, serious cars that showed up only in the shadows with monster engines, bad attitudes, and the desire to clean out every wallet at the drive-in. Nope, I never actually saw that car, but everyone on the street set knew at least one person who had. At least that's what I heard . . . .
For Joe Sewell of Church Hill, Tennessee, this real-life, 12-second, '70 Duster was the next step in a progression of Mopars he has owned over the years. The Sewell family has been Mopar loyal for decades, and in 1999, Joe had the chance to pick this car up as a replacement for a '72 Duster he had sold back in 1994.
"My first car was a red '72 Duster," the 31-year-old mechanic recalls. "This was a one-owner car, in pretty poor shape but all there. The asking price was $500, so I bought it and began fixing it up."
To go "big red" again, Joe had Earl Peters shoot the car in '94 Jeep Liberty Red -a hot hue that stands out on this package. The '70 Duster was a big seller for Plymouth, but somewhat nondescript in styling, so the color really sets it apart from its more pedestrian kin. Black graphics with displacement call-outs are on the sides thanks to Signs by Roach.
A rumor like, "That thing's got a big-block in it" will be laid to rest once the hood is open, though the 416s listed on each rear quarter are truth in advertising for the LA-series mill. The engine is a combination that Joe built using a long-swing Mopar cast crankshaft in a '75 era 360 block that was safely bored out .070 over. Into this went Eagle rods and Diamond pistons, though Joe is keeping some of these details close to the vest. J&J Racing Engines did the balancing on the reciprocating assembly before it was installed in the short-block.
Camshaft duties went to a Mopar Purple Shaft with .508/292-duration specs, using good peripherals to lift valves in a set of Mopar X-type heads. Between them is a Mopar M1 intake and big 850-cfm Holley, which is plate-feed a 100-horse shot of laughing gas, courtesy of Sniper Nitrous Systems. Mopar also supplied the ignition system, with Hedman Hedders and a 3-inch exhaust system taking the fumes to the rear bumper.
"I can't get any traction with this thing on the street tires," Joe admits. "I drive it on Thursday evenings from my house to Bristol Dragway for their Street Fights program and have gone as quick as 12.34 at 114 with this engine, but haven't even tried the nitrous yet." The tires he obliterates are fairly fat, too. Nitto low-profile 275/50R17s on 17x11 American Racing Torq-Thrust IIs are in the rear, while the similar fronts are 17x7s with 255/50R-17 meat. Rear suspension mods, other than the mini-tubs Joe has already installed, are on the to-do list, but we'll take tire-spinning 12.30s on the street any day. The front suspension and manual steering are also still in place.