1972 Plymouth Duster Restoration in Progress

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  • Hi all, I am a new member to this forum, but have been coming here for a long time for advise and trouble shooting.

    This summer I was able to pick up a 1972 Plymouth Duster that needs a lot of TLC. I wanted an in depth build that was going to take a few years to finish and keep me busy in my free time.

    My dad raised me to love muscle cars and Mopars especially. My first car was a 1973 Plymouth Duster 340 that I bought when I was 17 (39 now). I bought it for 1400 bucks and had to tear the engine down to the heads, because it had a burnt valve. After that I was hooked. After a few years and several sets of rear tires, that car was sold and allowed me to restore a 1969 Coronet. I cloned that car into a Superbee, but like an idiot eventually sold it.

    I got into modern muscle (loved the modern amenities and reduced hours of tuning) that included a 92 GTA Trans Am, 89 IROC, and a 2007 Dodge Charger R/T. However, something had been missing ever since I sold the Coronet. I still crave cars from the original muscle car era. The lines, the sounds, the smells... it is just perfect. The car I had missed the most was my Duster.

    This summer my wife gave me the green light to pick up another project. I found this 1972 Plymouth Duster for sale locally and it was exactly what I wanted (meaning the body was very straight for a Utah car... Salt ruins everything here) and it needed most everything else. I always preferred the 70-72 styling of the Duster and it has been a dream to restore another for the last 20 years.

    As of now I have finished up a complete overhaul of the front suspension, steering, wheels and will be tackling the install of the new leaf springs this week.

    I really just want to share my project with like minded folks and hopefully inspire or help people out with similar builds.

    Thanks for the read!
  • Vehicle:
    1972 Plymouth Duster
    Engine:
    318
    Tires:
    Street Radials

User Comments

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  1. PatrioticMopar
    Thanks guys!!! Just got the engine tranny back in last night... also got the headers placed (will add the gasket next wrenching session.

    For anyone running long tube headers, I found out you have to unhook your steering arm and feed it through one of the gaps on the driver side... that was fun (smacks head)
  2. DartLite
    That's some fantastic progress you got going!
  3. Rob R
    Very Nice..:thumbsup:
  4. Joeycurl
    did you slot the mounting holes for the steering box? I installed mine and love it but it's still close to my headers (have a big block in it)
    1. PatrioticMopar
      Nope, they bolted in perfectly to the QA1 Kmember.

      Just got the rear finished and all four wheels on. Will have engine back in soon and hope to have decent clearance for the headers... have they caused you any heat issues?
      PatrioticMopar, Nov 5, 2020
    2. Joeycurl
      do you have the 340 that's going in? If so, then I don't think you will have any issues with clearances. I have a big block in my Demon and even with the smaller steering box had to dimple my headers more.

      I did ceramic paint my headers to help with the heat
      Joeycurl, Nov 6, 2020
    3. PatrioticMopar
      Yeah it will stay a small block... have a 318 to get it running and am building a 408 for it.
      PatrioticMopar, Nov 6, 2020
      Joeycurl likes this.
  5. Fatkatkev
    Hello patriotic I'm also starting a 72 duster. My car came from Colorado and it's an original 225 slant 6 3 speed on floor and still runs. The body and underneath is in great shape. However everything else is either gone or has to be replace. I'm actually gonna start in my interior first and work out. I've had the car now about 3 weeks and I'm gonna have to put it to the side for a couple months because my work (UPS) is gonna keep me busy enough. I haven't posted pictures but I'm going to today. Like you it's gonna be a few years kinda project I'm just hoping I can find the parts for what I need reasonably such as taillights. Good luck with it and I'll be watching your progress also. And I give anything if had access to lift..haha
    1. PatrioticMopar
      Awesome!! I look forward to seeing your project. The lift has been a life saver for sure with all the work underneath the car so far. I’m in the same boat and have one chipped taillight on the driver side. Wish they made replacements for one year options like that. Good luck!
      PatrioticMopar, Oct 24, 2020
  6. triumphman
    Well then! Your are back, (in the Mopar world) and everything is older. And like some of us, cars need replacement parts and someone that cares.
    Have fun.
    1. PatrioticMopar
      Haha thanks, it’s great to be back... and I hear you about being older and needing replacement parts lol!! Lifting that 8 3/4 last night reminded me “I ain’t as good as I once was”
      PatrioticMopar, Oct 23, 2020
  7. PatrioticMopar
    The tie rods, idler arm, and pitman arm all needed replacing. I sprung for Moog parts. Years ago I sold car parts and have always been impressed by Moog’s product.

    I definitely could have just done a 250$ overhaul of the front end, but I am building this car as a keeper and don’t want to redo the suspension again anytime soon .

    Next situation was the brakes. Everything was rusted out and needed replacement. The car had already had a 73-76 disc conversion done at some point. I decided to stick with this set up as it should handle the level of performance I am shooting for. I ordered a new kit from Pirate Jack through EBay. I ran into a back order issue, but they did a 2 day air shipping of the lower ball joints when they got them, at no extra cost to me. I would feel comfortable referring people to them for this kit.

    Wheels!!!!! Picking new rims and tires makes me happy I feel they make or break a cars look. I don’t even want to know how many hours I poured over different rims before settling on the American Racing version of the Magnum 500s. I also wanted to give it a modern flare and went with 17” rims.

    Once all these parts were ordered, it was time to get to work... to be continued
  8. PatrioticMopar
    The suspension and brakes were completely shot. The car had no gas tank, no interior, and was in need of new leaf springs.

    Since I didn’t want to take too much time on my cousins lift, I decided to start with the suspension, brakes and anything I needed the lift for, before getting the car running.

    This first work decision I wanted to make was how much power was my end goal. This would help me decide what wheels and tires to run. I wanted to avoid a mini tub if possible, but recognized that might be necessary due to A-body wheel well constraints.

    I settled on a end game goal of a 408 Stroker in the ballpark of 450 horse. I want to put an overdrive in the car for superior road trips and will need a build that is friendly with a 2500 stall or lower for overdrive use. My eye is on the SST A41 tranny.

    I plan on running the car at the strip, but since my local drag strip in Utah closed down a couple years ago, I will only make one or two trips to Vegas each year. I also wanted to upgrade the handling and steering on the vehicle. I remember the old Duster and it had a lot of body roll and a sloppy steering.

    I did a lot of research and settled on QA1 for the front suspension and rear shocks. The attractive draw of QA1, was the bolt in compatibility, the great pricing, and the great reviews. I also decided to go with Borgeson and their quick ratio steering box for the power steering upgrade. I also really needed the extra room for the long tube headers that came with the car.

    I bought the QA1 handling kit that included the upper and lower control arms, strut arms, sway bar, and K-member. This kit cost me $2k and I ordered it from Summit Racing (can’t beat their delivery speed and customer support).
  9. PatrioticMopar
    Part 1: Where to start?!?!

    My cousin is a huge car guy and owns his own custom shop called Radical Classics. He has a 1967 Chevelle that is powered by a supercharged LS7 that made 1000 HP at the wheels.

    He was kind enough to let me borrow some garage space (that includes a 2 post lift) and help me tow the Duster there. The Duster is currently a 318 car with a 904 transmission. The engine had no motor mount brackets when I bought the car and hasn’t been run since the 318 was redone by the previous owner.

    I was happy to see a brand new 8 3/4 (742 case) under the car when I first looked at it. The previous owner also welded in subframe connectors, which really strengthen these unibody cars. His plan was to drag race the car and it is sitting with a positraction 4.10 set up.

    Since I want to be able to tour with this car, I will either need another third member with 3.23s or go to a good middle ground set up like 3.55s. This is still up for debate as I need to narrow down my transmission choice and potential stall converter.
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