Saturday, April 9, 2016

Multi Colored Mopar with Badges of Steel!

Way up north in the hinterlands of Queens I ran across this multi colored beast:

This is a 1973 Plymouth Duster that seems to have originally been Autumn Bronze Metallic. Primer has started taking over, no doubt following creeping rust. This car is absolutely identical to the 1974 model with 1 exception; the front turn signal lenses on this car are clear as opposed to amber. 
 If you look closely you can see a small attachment to the top of the fender on this side only. This is a turn signal indicator that consisted of a fiber optic cable going from the inside of the turn signal to a little porthole lens on the fender. It was a visual reminder if you left it on, or if you needed to change the bulb. In this instance it tells us that this fender was a replacement from a car built on or after 1975 when they became standard.
Alright, why not remove the original badge and replace it with a much larger version fashioned out of steel? The look is spot on to the original that would've been mounted below this placement.
One quirk that was lost when this fender was replaced is a metal Chrysler/Plymouth pentastar logo. They were placed on the passenger side of all Mopar cars from the early '60s through the early '70s. The reason they were only on the passenger side was that people walking by on the sidewalk would see it when it was parked!
This car looks huge from this angle but it's remarkably well-proportioned in real life. They were considered compact when new!
The storage capacity of these rides is great; the backseat folds forward leaving a cargo area from the back of the trunk up to the front seats. Surfboards fit nicely.
The other side had those dog dish cop hubcaps, but this side has the sporty Rallye Wheels. With very few exceptions these came with the venerable Slant-6 or the 318 V8 under the hood. If you wanted a manual it was three-on-the-tree, or a floor mounted unit for an additional $14.

These cars are favorites of mine ever since I purchased a '72 Gold Duster in Providence for $60. The for sale sign on the car stated "No other car in R.I. but this one is chep! $100 OBO. Chep! Chep! Chep!" I went into the Store 24 where it was parked to see if there was a zero left off and the guy said "80 bucks, 60 bucks, whatever you got!"
I drove that car to Baltimore once, NYC dozens of times, and delivered pizzas in it for 6 months. Somebody ran a stop sign and smashed it up and I was paid $700 for it!

This particular ride looks a lot like the car I drove in California in 2006-2007. Mine was a '74 Dodge Dart Sport, with "Sport" indicating the fastback Duster body style. They are quick enough even with the 6 cylinder, quiet, pretty darn economical, and as reliable as a Swiss watch. I would love to have one again some day, so maybe I'll have to take a trip to Queens to check its status!

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