Pro Touring has been a major hit with aftermarket parts suppliers because it combines classic style with late-model technology. The dominating chassis in this sector of the hobby have mainly been the B- and E-Bodies. For some reason, the A-Bodies are commonly overlooked even though they have classic muscular lines and offer low weight in a tight package. But for Kenny Wayne Shepherd, building one of these killer semi-fastbacks was always in the plan.
Kenny, a 30-year-old self-taught blues musician, grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana. For as long as he can remember he has been into cars. "In art class, I would always draw cars, and I had Hot Wheels in all my pockets wherever I went," recalls Kenny. But it wasn't just cars that he was into, it was Mopars. The Dukes of Hazzard played a major role in this by really bringing Mopars to his attention.
His successful music career has allowed him to build some of his dream cars, and on top of that list was a Plymouth Duster. When his parents met, his mother was driving one, and he always thought it would be cool to build one because of that.
When Kenny found this '70 Duster 340, he was pleased to find it was in excellent shape and had everything he was looking for. "I wanted a black interior, Rallye gauges, a center console, and bucket seats. This car had all the interior features I wanted, so I bought it," he says. The man selling the car was actually the neighbor of the original owner. This man gave Kenny a book that documented the car's history-down to the price of each gallon of gas put into the car-until the original owner passed away in the mid-'90s. It's one of those stories you hear about from time to time, and Kenny knew he was getting someone's "baby."
The interior of the car is stock-appearing and very comfortable. YearOne parts were used t
Kenny drove the Duster every day for several weeks until an annoying tick emerged from the engine bay. This eventually developed into a bearing failure, which motivated him to pull the engine out. At that point, he took a step back and assessed everything about his A-Body. The car was wearing all of its original parts, but the passenger side had been damaged at one time, and some of the bodywork was beginning to show from underneath the paint. "Since I had to rebuild the engine and get it painted, I thought I might as well do something with it," Kenny says. Since he felt it was one of the more desirable Dusters, he didn't want to cut the car up.
YearOne was conscripted to play a major role in the laborious task of building the Plymouth to Kenny's vision. The guys at YearOne have been building some great-looking cars of late, so they seemed a proper choice. He didn't want to do anything to the car that couldn't be reversed, so a lot of care was taken to stay true to that request. The body was in decent shape, aside from some mild rust on the roof and the aforementioned passenger-side door, so there wasn't much work needed there. The stock K-member was retained, but the tired suspension was ditched in favor of Magnum Force tubular upper-control arms. An SSBC Tri-Power three-piston brake kit with 13-inch rotors is used to bring the Duster to a halt. The road dampening is handled by a set of KYB shocks and Mopar Performance torsion bars. To further enhance the Duster's cornering, a PST polygraphite suspension kit, an Addco 1 1/8-inch sway bar, and a Steer & Gear rebuilt steering box were used.
The well-rounded front suspension continues to the rear with Eaton Detroit 1-inch drop springs and KYB shocks. A single-piston variation of the SSBC system is mated with 12-inch rotors to balance the braking power. The stock 8 3/4 is filled with a rebuilt Sure Grip, 3.55 gears, and Moser axles. With the intention of adding power, a set of Magnum Force subframe connectors are used to stiffen the chassis. Under the hood, the braking system is controlled by a YearOne-adapted hydroboost system.