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A Family Tradition: 1972 Plymouth Duster 340

A Family Tradition: 1972 Plymouth Duster 340

Following the deprivation and hardship skilled throughout World Struggle II, People basked within the excesses of the 1950s and the auto business definitely mirrored this. As the last decade progressed, automobiles obtained bigger, heavier, and more and more ornate. When the 1950s was the ‘60s however, a funny thing happened – Detroit’s Huge Three obtained into the low value, low frills, compact automotive recreation. For mannequin yr 1960 Ford launched the Falcon, GM launched its Corvair, and Chrylser unleased the Valiant.

The Valiant was restyled twice in its ten-year lifespan, first in 1963 after which once more in ’67. Throughout that second refresh the character of the platform was dramatically modified, with the elimination of the sportier two-door hardtop and convertible physique types, leaving solely the four-door Valiant. Whereas the Valiant-based Barracuda was provided as a convertible or fastback with an excellent vary of efficiency choices, it had grown bigger, heavier, and sufficiently costly to create a big void in Plymouth’s choices. Starting in 1970 this void can be crammed by the Duster, which shared its construction and entrance finish sheet metallic with Valiant, however seemed dramatically totally different owing to its semi-fastback design and dramatically curved aspect glass.

With the elective 275-horsepower 340 V8 a comparatively light-weight Duster provided very spirited efficiency. Modern street checks noticed Zero-60 mph occasions in a bit over six seconds and the standing quarter mile within the mid-14 seconds vary. Add in compelling styling and cargo carrying capability, and a beginning worth of solely $2,172 for a base mannequin and $2,547 for a 340-powered automotive and it’s apparent why Plymouth bought a powerful 217,192 Dusters in 1970, and an astounding 1,332,846 automobiles in complete from 1970-76.

Regardless of their attributes nevertheless, most individuals didn’t take pleasure in long-term amorous affairs with their Dusters. Time and know-how moved on, numerous examples succumbed to rust, and, as most have been owned by younger individuals, they suffered the standard indignities that include youthful exuberance (my sister despatched no less than three Dusters over the rainbow bridge again within the day). However as with each rule, there are exceptions, and the hanging ’72 featured right here is considered one of them. Mike Cummings purchased this automotive thirty-two years in the past and although there have been some bumps within the street he stays in love with it to this present day.

Cummings grew up in a army household and discovered to wrench on the household Mopars from his father. “I learned basic auto mechanics from my father,” he recollects, “who learned from his father. My grandfather was a manager for Armory Chrysler in Albany, New York and my father worked part time at a service garage. My brother and I would watch and help do simple repairs on our 1969 Plymouth Fury III and 1973 Dodge Dart Swinger.”

When it got here time for Cummings’ first automotive he discovered a 1968 383 Tremendous Bee however his father wasn’t eager on him beginning off with an enormous block, so he finally ended up with a 318-powered 1975 Street Runner, which he drove all by way of highschool. After highschool he needed to serve his nation, as is conventional in his household, so he joined the U.S. Navy and educated in superior electronics. After being despatched by the Navy to Newport, Rhode Island he was in want of one other automotive and naturally was on the hunt for a Mopar.

“A friend of mine told me about a 1972 340 Duster for sale in front of Williams Auto Salvage Yard in Schenectady, New York for $600 with about 52,000 miles on it,” he remembers. “The car was in rough shape, but for the money it was a good deal, so I bought it.”

Cummings started modifying the automotive shortly after shopping for it, and shortly got here to remorse the modifications he made. “The first modification to the car was the addition of a glass, pop-up style sunroof. That was a big mistake. The sunroof never sealed correctly and I regretted altering the original headliner. I then tried to install a 440 with an automatic transmission. It never really ran right so I put the original motor back in, and decided to keep the car an original Formal Black, numbers-matching, 340 4-speed Duster.”

Cummings drove the automotive for a few yr and a half till being assigned to Pensacola, Florida for C-Faculty coaching, which led to him placing the automotive into storage for about two years. After finishing the coaching, and marrying his highschool sweetheart, he went again to Rhode Island and took the Duster out of storage. “My first task was to rebuild the engine in our spare room as we had no garage living on the Navy base. The short block was given to Master Machinist Gary Askins and Ori Askins at Napa in Saratoga Springs, New York. They installed a sleeve and turned the original steel forged crankshaft. The heads were reconditioned with hardened seats to run super unleaded.”

In 1991, after leaving the Navy, Cummings and his spouse moved again to Saratoga Springs, New York, purchased their first home, which wanted some work, and elevated the dimensions of the household with the addition of two youngsters. These main life modifications typically imply the top of the enjoyable automotive however Cummings by no means even considered promoting his Duster. As an alternative, he merely put it apart for a while, whereas persevering with to build up elements for the restoration he deliberate to ultimately do. After about 5 years he was capable of dedicate sufficient time and a spotlight to the automotive to get the ball rolling.

“I started the main body work on the car and over the next two years replaced both rear quarters and the driver’s side floor pan. The trunk was another issue as it didn’t even exist. After these parts where replaced it was time to prep the rest of the car for epoxy primer and PPG single-stage acrylic urethane paint. Four coats were applied in my garage in a homemade paint booth. The process of wet sanding the paint began and then I finished up with a multi-stage polish process. I then started on the interior, which included a new carpet and front seat covers from Legendary Auto Interiors and putting the horrible glass pop up sunroof back in the car. It was the summer of 2000 and I was headed to my first car show since restoring the car. The show was at Clifton Park Dodge World. I received a second place trophy in the A-Body class!”

Over the subsequent a number of years Cummings devoted most of his time to his household however continued to work on the automotive sporadically, as time allowed. “I located a 1970 T/A 340 six pack manifold with carburetors for $200. The set needed a major overhaul which was completed with assistance from Chicago Carburetors. The motor needed to be modified so the six pack could breathe properly, so I had the block bored 0.060-inch over and the heads opened up to accept 2.02-inch intake valves. The cam was upgraded with a mild COMP Cams grind. My brother-in-law Rick helped me reassemble the engine. I also acquired an Air Grabber induction setup from a 1969 Dodge Super Bee and fabricated a new hood by replacing my original under hood support with the one from a Dodge Super Bee Air Grabber hood to mount the induction system that sits over the six-pack air cleaner. I added power steering from another ’72 Duster that I found at the Englishtown Mopar show, and installed front disc brakes from another ’72 Duster that I got from a good friend, “Mopar Dan” in Lebanon Valley, New York. I began in search of a manufacturing unit fashion sunroof from a ’72 or ’73 Duster and eventually discovered one from a ’73 in Wisconsin. As soon as the sunroof arrived, I spent the subsequent three weeks getting ready the roof to obtain the brand new opening. It was a pleasant addition to the automotive after the primary try. This result in the second portray of the automotive round June of 2007.”

Following the second full repaint Cummings continued to drive and benefit from the automotive, however there have been a number of areas he was not glad with, so in 2015 he determined to undergo the entire thing as soon as once more. “The most recent time I painted the car I used PPG’s Shop-Line base coat/clear coat. It turned out to be my best paint job mostly because of the advice from my father-in-law who use to paint cars. This time extra care was given to the engine compartment. By March 2016 the paint was finished and in May I was at my first show of the year. When June came around the family and I took the car to the Mopar Madness show in Liverpool, New York. Of the thirteen or so cars in my class I was awarded 1st place for the first time in 30 years of owning the car.”

Along with displaying the automotive, Cummings continues to drive it regularly. Each actions deliver him a substantial amount of happiness, however the relationships the Duster performs a task in is what provides him probably the most satisfaction. “Throughout the years that I’ve owned the car it has brought me in contact with many people who have become good friends, and I have a wonderful wife and two incredible children who have supported my hobby from day one. Reminiscent of my childhood, my children have watched and helped over the years with repairing and maintaining the Duster, and that is really the best part of owning the car!”


Mopar Muscle Journal
Quick Details

1972 Plymouth Duster
Mike Cummings, Ganesvoort, NY

Sort: V-Eight 349.6 cid (inventory 340 with cylinders bored .060” over)
Bore x stroke: Four.10” (bore) x Three.31” (stroke)
Block: Inventory forged 340 cid iron
Rotating meeting: Inventory 340 cast crank, inventory connecting rods, Velocity-Professional cast aluminum pistons
Compression: 10.5:1
Cylinder heads: Manufacturing unit J heads
Camshaft: Comp Cams
Machine work executed by Gary & Ori Askins at NAPA Auto Elements in Saratoga Springs, NY
Induction: 1970 T/A Challenger six pack with Holley 2300 collection carburetors and 6 pack air cleaner
Oiling system: Inventory oil pump and oil pan
Exhaust: Inventory exhaust manifolds, pipes and mufflers
Ignition: Chrysler digital ignition, MSD coil
Cooling: Inventory radiator and viscous-drive clutch fan
Gasoline: Inventory pump and features
Engine constructed by: Mike Cummings

Transmission: 1972 A-833 Chrysler Four-speed, gear ratios of two.44:1, 1.77:1, 1.34:1, and 1.Zero:1
Shifter: Hurst
Clutch: Ram
Driveshaft: Inventory driveshaft
Rear Finish: Inventory Chrysler Eight-Three/Four” Positive-Grip restricted slip differential with Three.55:1 ring and pinion, inventory axles

Development: Welded metal unit-body
Entrance suspension: Unbiased, unequal size higher and decrease management arms with Zero.87” torsion bars, Zero.88” anti-roll bar, hydraulic tube shock absorbers over gas-charged
Rear suspension: Hotchkiss sort, asymmetrical leaf springs, hydraulic tube shock absorbers
Steering: Inventory recirculating ball with hydraulic energy help and glued displacement hydraulic energy steering pump, Three.5 turns lock-to-lock, 37.7’ turning circle
Entrance brakes: Inventory Chrysler disc
Rear brakes: Inventory Chrysler 10” x 2.5” drum

Wheels: Inventory Chrysler Rallye wheels, 14”x7”
Entrance Tires: BF Goodrich Radial T/A, P235/60R14
Rear Tires: BF Goodrich Radial T/A, P235/60R14