Plymouth's Duster was another version of the Valiant, Plymouth's popular mainstay. It was a vehicle of opportunity, created when engineers had design funds left over for the 1970 model year. With that cash, they took the Valiant and added a semi-fastback onto the A-body to fill the small, sporty gap left by the Barracuda's 1970 upgrade to an E-body. The Duster nameplate was only used with the two-door coupe models. The hardtop and sedan were still officially called the Valiant.
The Duster competed directly with two other semi-fastbacks on the market-the barely-larger 1968 Chevy Nova and the smaller 1970 Ford Maverick. Plymouth produced the Duster in Detroit from 1970 through 1976, and marketed it worldwide. The automaker offered both a standard and performance Duster. The standard was equipped with either a 198 or 225-cubic-inch slant six. The performance model sported a 340 cubic inch V8 from the L.A. Series.
In 1971, Plymouth made only a few changes to the basic Duster, dropping the Valiant and Plymouth grill logos. In 1973, the Duster got a major face-lift with a new grill, bumpers, front fenders and hood. The new trimmed-in-chrome taillights were repositioned on the outside of the body for the rest of the model's production. This switch added more style to the previously flush-mounted lights.
The Duster was so popular that Dodge traded a version of their Dodge Dart Swinger for their own take on the Duster, called the Dodge Demon. Plymouth aimed variations on the Duster theme at different target markets. The Feather Duster was economical. 1973's Space Duster had more cargo room with its collapsible security panel and rear seat. The 340 and 360 Dusters were built for maximum performance and packed a shark-tooth grill.
Other trim packages were cosmetic. The Gold Duster had front-to-back carpeting, gold pin-striping, whitewalls, pleated vinyl seats, wheel covers, a vinyl canopy-style roof and a special badge. An optional 318 V8 ramped up the car's performance. This trim package was so popular that it was available until 1975. The Duster Twister sported a black matte-finish hood and the 340's shark-tooth grill. The Twister offered a racing package with wedge pin-striping, a rear spoiler and non-working hood scoop. Dual exhaust systems and deep bucket seats with tall backs were available on the 340, 360 and Twister trim packages. Plymouth later dusted off the Duster name for use on trim packages on their Volare, Turismo and Sundance
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