Plymouth entered the small car market in 1960 when it introduced the Valiant. Some sporty variants of the Valiant were offered over the years, but none like the Duster. The Duster looked like a Valiant and used many of its body and mechanical parts, but its fastback design was one of a kind when compared to the more stodgy Valiant models. The Duster was popular with the buying public, considering it debuted in the same year as the similarly styled Ford Maverick.
The Plymouth Duster first debuted in 1970. These Dusters were five-passenger two-door coupes that had an overall length from bumper to bumper of 188.4 inches. The wheelbase, or the measurement between a center-line of the front and rear wheels, was 108 inches. The total curb weight, or the weight of the car with gas and oil but without passengers, was 3,114 pounds. The total width was 71.7 inches. The front tread width was 59.2 inches, while the rear tread width was 55.6 inches. The trunk could hold 20.1 cubic feet of luggage. Starting in 1973, federally mandated energy-absorbing bumpers were added. Dusters from this period until their demise in 1976 were 197 inches long.
To appeal to a wide variety of buyers, the Duster was available with many different engine choices. A 198-cubic-inch in-line six-cylinder engine with 125 horsepower appealed primarily to economy-minded shoppers. A larger 225-cubic-inch six-cylinder engine was available with an output of 145 horsepower. This engine became standard in 1972 Dusters, at which time the 198 six was dropped from the lineup. A 318-cubic-inch V-8 with 230 horsepower would be a good choice for those who wanted more power than was available from a six-cylinder engine, but who also wanted a reasonably economical engine. For those who wanted a fast, sporty Duster above all else, the 340-cubic-inch V-8 rendering 240 horsepower was the top engine choice. This engine was dropped in 1974 and replaced with the 360-cubic-inch V-8 that provided 245 horsepower.
Over the course of Duster production, several special models were available. The Duster Twister became available in 1971 and came standard with bucket seats, special stripes, chrome wheels and racing mirrors. The Space Duster was added in 1973 and featured a fold-down rear seat to increase cargo room to approximately 50 cubic feet. The Feather Duster was introduced in 1976 and featured lightweight body panels and a specially tuned 225 six-cylinder engine that helped return 30 miles per gallon.
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