Plymouth devoted a large amount of money to the design and development of the 1970 Plymouth Duster, and the car's abundant features reflected this attention.
There was enough money left for Plymouth stylists to add an attractive new grille of closely spaced, recessed, blacked-out horizontal bars, with the center section brought forward flush with the grille frame and capped by Plymouth's "frog-legs" emblem.
Rectangular park and turn lamps molded into the recessed sections added something of a "poor man's Grand Prix" look. (The new grille was also fitted to the sole 1970 Valiant, the four-door sedan.)
Interiors used the Valiant instrument panel with a new twin-circle gauge cluster with full instrumentation and room for an optional tachometer between the two big main dials. Seating choices included a standard vinyl front bench seat and four options: cloth-and-vinyl bench, all-vinyl split bench, vinyl split bench with fold-down armrest, and all-vinyl front buckets with or without center console.
"The whole Duster program -- sketches and modeling -- took six weeks," recalls Antonick, "and while that impressed Chrysler officials, I thought to myself, 'Hell, when I was at Studebaker, we did a whole car [the Avanti] in six weeks."
Now, what to call the new car? "The Duster name came out of the [advertising] agency," recalls Weiss. "It was a relatively aggressive name, like Judge, Boss, all of that."
During the first few years, the Duster name was accompanied by a cute bit of whimsy, a squat whirl of dust with angry eyes. Though the cartoon looked slightly menacing, everyone knew instinctively that it was a friendly little dust devil who just wanted to play.
"The Duster 'swirl' is really the Tasmanian Devil [cartoon character]," laughs Antonick. "We wanted to use it directly, but couldn't get the rights from Warner Brothers. They wanted maybe 10 times as much money [as they charged to use the Road Runner name] because the Road Runner name had been undervalued by Warner. So we did our own 'devil.'"
Dusters enjoyed the full panoply of Chrysler engineering features of the era: Unibody construction, front torsion bars, TorqueFlite transmission, etc.
Engine choices included two versions of the "bulletproof" Slant Six introduced on the original Valiant -- a stroked 198-cubic inch version offering 125 horsepower (up from 170 cubic inches and 115 horsepower the year before), and the larger 145-horsepower, 225-cube variant. For those preferring power over economy, there was Chrysler's workhorse 230-horsepower, 318-cubic inch V-8.
The 1970 Plymouth Duster 340 coupe was soon introduced in the marketplace. Continue on to the next page to learn more about this exciting automobile.
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