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...
The interior of the car is stock-appearing and very comfortable. YearOne parts were used to restore the carpeting, door panels, seats, and headliner. The windshield and rear glass were also replaced, but the OE side glass has been retained.
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.
The Pentastar logo has been...
The Pentastar logo has been associated with the Chrysler brands since the early '60s. Kicker Audio incorporated it into their rear window audio system, and it's a focal point of the interior.
A Mopar Performance crate 402 small-block was bored .020-inch over to increase displacement to 406 inches. The double roller timing chain turns a .501/.513-inch lift, 230/234-duration @ .050 hydraulic roller camshaft. Mopar 1.6 rockers compress the Mopar springs to open the 2.02-inch intake and 1.625-inch exhaust valves. Assisting in the engine's respiration is a Holley 750 carburetor on top of a single-plane M1 intake manifold feeding cast-iron Magnum R/T cylinder heads. The exhaust is directed through a set of tti 15/8-inch headers and a 2.5-inch dual exhaust. A YearOne crossmember supports a Bowler Transmissions 4L60E, controlled by an HGM stand-alone controller and features a 2,300-rpm torque converter.
The Duster's interior was well maintained, but Kenny wanted to spice things up a little. A pair of Cerullo bucket seats was installed in the front, with YearOne covers installed by Henderson's Upholstery in Gainsville, Georgia, that mimic the original design. The same style covers were also used on the rear bench. Redline GaugeWorks filled the Just Dashes-restored dashboard with a set of their rebuilt gauges and reflect the factory appearance. YearOne supplied carpeting, door panels, package tray, and headliner. They also wallpapered the entire passenger compartment with Dynamat sound-deadening material, giving this A-Body smooth volume control. Kenny can stay cool with the Bouchillon A/C system.
Chip Foose took his own stab...
Chip Foose took his own stab at the Duster design and came up with this. When the sun hits it a certain way, it can pop off the car. It does a good job at telling everyone that this ain't no 340.
Recently, the new interior was given the finishing touches by Kicker Audio. They made a custom console and audio package for the car. Kenny says, "I told them I was going to be listening to all kinds of music. It wasn't like I was going to enter any bass competitions. They also knew I was trying to be faithful to the original design and didn't want anything done that couldn't be reversed or wasn't functional. While the entire audio system looks modern, it doesn't look alien in the car either." The factory mono-speaker radio still works, and Kenny says he drives down the road and listens to it when he wants to take a trip back in time.
Ted Moser of Motion Picture Warehouse took his turn at the paint gun to spray down the Duster. "I wanted to keep green on the car because it sort of gets a bad rap. If it's not Sassy Grass or Sublime people seem to ignore it. I wanted the car to show that green could still be cool," says Kenny. So a two-tone color combination was used to add dimension to the car. The top half was painted in Dark Graphite, and the lower was sprayed with Saab Frost Green. In certain lights, the green looks silver and the graphite looks black, which gives it the dimension he was looking for.
The rear placement of the...
The rear placement of the battery cleans up the engine bay so you can clearly see the Mopar Performance crate engine.
For the hood, Kenny wanted something special. He says, "At first I wanted a large Duster on the hood with a small 406 Wedge put on there somewhere. When I gave it to Chip, he asked if he could change it up a bit, and I was like 'Do whatever you want, you're Foose!'" The end result is what you see here-a layered 406 and Duster logo that you can get lost in when you look at it. Foose also had a hand in the wheel selection. A set of his Nitrous II wheels, measuring 18x8 in the front and 19x10 in the rear, are wrapped in BFG G-Forces T/A rubber. These wheels complete the Pro Touring look, and the tires give it all the grip it needs.
With the buildup starting in California and ending in Braselton, Georgia, this Duster has seen plenty of the U.S. Kenny took part in the '07 Hot Rod Power Tour so he could stretch the ol' Duster's legs and drive it. He frequents many of the major Mopar events in at least one of his cool rides. If it's not this '70 Duster, it's his Extreme Lee or one of his new Chargers. Soon, a '72 Road Runner will join the others in the respected garage of this rocker. "I've always been a Mopar guy, and they are the only cars I would really like to own," Kenny admits. He certainly has brought one cool A-Body to everyone's attention.
The blend of form and function...
The blend of form and function at its finest is represented by the trunk. Everything serves a purpose, from the amplifier vents to the spare tire. Best of all, it gives Kenny easy access to the taillights if he needs to change them.
'70 Plymouth Duster
Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Los Angeles, Ca
Engine: A Mopar Performance crate engine (P5153474) that has been bored .020-inch over based on a production 5.9 Magnum block. Oiling is controlled by a stock high-volume pump and an 8-quart center-sump street/strip oil pan. A 4-inch stroke Scat cast-steel crankshaft drives a set of Mopar 6.123-inch forged rods and cast hypereutectic pistons. The valves are actuated by 1.6 Mopar rocker arms and a 230/234-duration, .501/.513-inch lift hydraulic roller camshaft. The rockers rest atop heavy-duty Mopar valvesprings, which take the beating of the aggressive cam that is controlled by a double-roller timing chain. Air and fuel are brought into the small-block via a 750-cfm Holley carburetor and an aluminum M1 four-barrel intake manifold. The mixture is brought through the cast-iron Magnum R/T cylinder heads and ignited by the Mopar Performance electronic ignition. It's then exhausted through tti 15/8-inch stepped headers and a 2.5-inch tti exhaust. After Lance Patton's tuning, it's rated at 435 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque at the flywheel.
Transmission: An electronic overdrive 4L60E was built by Bowler Transmissions and adapted to the Chrysler bolt pattern. It's controlled by a stand-alone HGM controller. The 2,300-rpm stall torque converter features an 11-inch lockup clutch and 9-inch cover. A driveshaft from Ron's Driveline of Gainsville, Georgia, sends the power to the rear.
Rearend: The stock 8 3/4 is packed with Moser axles, 3.55 gears, and a rebuilt factory Sure Grip.
The Foose Nitrous II wheels...
The Foose Nitrous II wheels are a modern interpretation of the famous Torq-Thrusts. The large 18- and 19-inch sizes easily clear the large SSBC Tri-Power brake package.
Suspension: (Front) Magnum Force tubular upper-control arms take the place of the factory units, while Mopar Performance torsion bars set the ride height. A set of KYB shocks and an Addco 1 1/8-inch sway bar make the Duster feel like it's on rails. The front end was also treated to a PST polygraphite suspension kit to round off the front end. (Rear) Eaton Detroit springs give the Duster a 1-inch drop, while rear KYB shocks dampen the road bumps. A 7/8-inch Addco sway bar keeps the rearend stable during cornering, and Magnum Force subframe connectors prevent the chassis from twisting.
Steering: A Steer & Gear rebuilt steering box.
Brakes: SSBC Tri-Power three-piston front calipers grab massive 13-inch slotted rotors. The SSBC package required the use of '73 A-Body spindles; YearOne adapted the hydroboost system. Single-piston SSBC calipers and 12-inch rotors slow down the rear.
Wheels & Tires: Chip Foose-designed Nitrous II wheels, measuring 18x8-inch in front and 19x10-inch in the rear, sport BFG G-Force T/A tires. They are sized at 225/40-18 and 285/35-19, respectively.
Body: The original body was in excellent shape so not much work was done on it. It received a new windshield and back glass, but retained the OE side glass.
Paint: Ted Moser of Motion Picture Warehouse painted the car Dark Graphite on top and Saab Frost Green Metallic on the lower half. The hood treatment was designed by Chip Foose.
Interior: YearOne replaced the carpeting, rear seat covers, door panels, package tray, and headliner. Just Dashes restored the dashpad, and Cerullo front bucket seats were covered in leather that matched the YearOne design. Henderson's Upholstery in Gainesville, Georgia, handled the front and rear seat covering.Kicker Audio designed a center console that simulates the original console's shape. The modern audio system features an Eclipse CD/DVD player and a slew of Kicker speakers, tweeters, and subwoofers. They also crafted the trunk enclosure that incorporated the amplifiers, vents, and spare tire. The factory mono-speaker AM/FM radio still works.