Split front bench seat was...
Split front bench seat was a factory option in all Dusters in 1973.
We said earlier that Greg's Duster had one item inside it with a Central New York history-the A-833 four-speed. On the outside are a few items that are CNY-correct and year-correct: the blue-on-reflectorized-orange New York license plates, which first appeared in 1973, and the Lewis Goodman Company rear plate frame from a longtime Syracuse Chrysler-Plymouth dealer that closed last year. "I have a bunch of old plate frames, and I just stuck it on there," says Greg. "That's because I like that stuff."
How does Greg's Duster drive? Let him tell you. "It runs really, really good! It really is a blast to drive with that four-speed." It also handles better than stock, thanks to the wide rear wheels and tires on it, which fill the stock wheelwells better than the OEM wheel/tire combo did (thanks in no small part to the Duster/Demon/Dart Sport having a rear tread that's a few inches narrower than the front). "I never could figure out why they did that," says Greg of the tread disparity.
'73 was the last year for...
'73 was the last year for the 340 as a factory option, and Greg's looks like a total stocker-if you don't notice the Hedman Hedders.
If the idea of a Duster as your first (or next) Mopar interests you, Greg has some sound advice about what to look for when shopping for one-and what to look out for. "Make sure the frame's good before you even mess with it," he says. "The torsion bar areas on these cars are notorious for rot." Greg adds that cars from CNY-and from anywhere along the Great Lakes-are especially prone to that, given the salt used to de-ice the roads each winter.
1973 was the last year for the 340-inch LA engine in any A-Body, as a high-output 360-cubic-inch version replaced it for 1974-and only found about 4,500 buyers in the three years it was in the Duster powertrain lineup. But 1973 was a big year for Ma Mopar sales-wise, arguably their best year of the '70s, when nearly 750,000 Plymouths were sold (landing Plymouth in sixth place in the sales race). Of that total, over one-third of them were Dusters, and 15,731 of those were Duster 340s. And this one is just the car to enjoy the CNY warm-weather months with!
'73 Plymouth Duster 340
Owned by: Greg Stein, Cicero, New York
- Engine: '73-vintage 340 still wears its OEM heads with their 1.88-inch intake valves, but it's had a Mopar Performance camshaft, Edelbrock intake, and Hedman Hedders added, and the heads were ported by a previous owner.
- Transmission: Hurst-shifted A-833, which, by the way, was built at the nearby New Process Gear plant where Greg works
- Rearend: OEM Sure-Grip-equipped 8 1/4 with 3.21:1 rear gears
- Suspension: Stock '73 Duster 340, which means heavy-duty torsion bars, leaf springs, and shocks and a front sway bar.
- Brakes: Just like it had when built, front disc/rear drum brakes, non-power-assisted.
- Wheels and Tires: Big-pattern Weld wheels on Futura tires, with the rears filling the Duster's huge rear fenderwells
- Body: Original sunroof-equipped '73 Duster unibody with an aftermarket scoop on hood and reproduction '73 Duster 340 side/rear stripes.
- Paint: The original color, B3 Basin Street Blue, sprayed on by Greg's buddy Jim Bersani, Cicero, New York
- Interior: Split bench seat in front, with the new-for-'73 Spacemaker fold-down seat in back, both upholstered in white vinyl. Stock dash gauges aided by a Sunpro tach and auxiliary gauges by Stewart-Warner (oil pressure), Sunpro (coolant temperature), and Autogage (vacuum)