Mopar lovers in Central New York (CNY) have one of the shortest warm-weather seasons anywhere each year to enjoy their rides. From sometime in May to early October, the roads in the region near Syracuse that's bounded by Lake Ontario to the north, the Adirondack Mountains to the east, the Finger Lakes to the west, and New York State's southern tier (Binghamton, Elmira) to the south are clear of wintertime salt and sand, and they can take their prized Plymouths, Dodges, and other Pentastar/Forward Look cars and trucks out and enjoy them.
Greg Stein is one of those folks who enjoys the short cruising season, though his '73 Plymouth Duster 340 has one component in it that can claim roots in CNY. That's its transmission, an A-833 four-speed built by Chrysler's former New Process Gear Division in East Syracuse where Greg works (just down the road from his home in Cicero).
Greg's Duster 340 had a long way to go before it got to Greg's garage. "It came from Arkansas originally, and then it went to Missouri, then to Ohio, then here," says Greg, who's the Duster's fifth owner.
It's interestingly-optioned, meaning that whoever marked the order blank on this one way back when didn't specify power steering, power brakes, or air conditioning, but did choose the A-833, the new-for-'73 steel sunroof (one of about 40 sunroof-equipped '73 Duster 340s) and Spacemaker folding rear seat, along with a split-bench front seat and exterior dress-up package.
Another new-for-'73 factory option in Greg's Duster: the Spacemaker fold-down rear seat.
It also had one factory option that you'd never think anyone in northern Arkansas would have ordered, then or now. "It did have a factory engine-block heater," he says, noting the fender tag has the code (N25) for that factory option on it. "That's really ironic, for a car that came from Arkansas, and that's kind of weird, being in a warmer climate like that."
Greg's Duster also has some of the other changes that Ma Mopar made for '73, including the big-bolt-pattern wheels and brakes that the A-Body shared with the B- and E-Bodies starting in '73. It also has the A-Body's first impact-absorbing bumpers (though Greg's doesn't have the huge rubber bumper blocks fore and aft that the car was built with) and the Torsion-Quiet Ride chassis rubberization that all North American-built Plymouths, Dodges, Chryslers, and Imperials got that year.
Stock '73 Duster gauge cluster is joined in Greg's car by a big Sunpro tach and Sunpro, St
Unlike a lot of project-ready early-'70s Mopars, this Duster was complete, intact, and running when Greg found it in 2009. "It had been done about 20 years earlier," he says. "It wasn't bad-there were some (rust) spots coming through, but nothing crazy." Greg's since taken care of those, and he did have the 340 out recently-but not for the reason you think he did. "I had it out over the (2009-'10) winter, when I repainted the engine bay," he says. "I re-gasketed and painted everything, but the engine was really fresh so I didn't dig too far into it."
1973's 340 was a carryover from 1972, with 8.5:1 compression and 1.88-inch intake valves, but Greg says his varies from factory stock. "The individual that I bought it from said there was some mild headwork done to it, but he didn't really get into much detail and I didn't ask, to be honest," he says. The 340 also wears an aluminum Edelbrock intake manifold and a set of Hedman Headers in place of the factory cast-iron pieces, and it's had a Mopar Performance cam installed in place of the OEM bumpstick.
Hand-cranked steel sunroof joined the Duster option list for '73, and the one on Greg's Du
Lest you think this is his first Mopar, think again. Greg's a long-time Mopar owner. "I've got a ton of 'em in my history," he says. "This is actually my third Duster. One that I had previously back in the '80s was a '74 Duster 360, and that car came out of Nicaragua. It was purchased new by a guy in the Army, and he had it shipped down there and then shipped it back here to the States when he got out."