Sep 12, 2023 at 00:00am

Mope-a-Dope: This 1971 340 Duster Ain't Yella, Fella

Reporter: Motortrend

Share your feelings about this article

Marvellous Icon Interaction animation marvellous Image
Article Interaction Bullseye Image Interaction Animation Bullseye Image
Article Interaction Good Image interaction animation good


Right on


By Jeff Koch (Photography: Jeff Koch) Ah, the lowly Duster. Born with the Valiant misnomer and destined for a life of Siant-Sicks power, file Duster was thrust into the spotlight of performance when full-size musclecars got loo costly to insure. A smaller engine in a smaller car with a smaller insurance tab meant bigger sales for Mother Mopar. Best of all, you could order the Duster as trick or as stealthy as you wanted—with scoops and stripes, or pie-pans and whitewalls.

It took a sharp eye to tell a 340 car from one motivated by the Leaning Tower of Power, the perfect ride to reel in the unsuspecting chump at a stoplight. Catch the eye, nod the head, green light, tire squeal, a burst of energy, and a disappearing view of those narrow slits for taillights for those who challenged so foolishly. See all 4 photos 4 photos Fast forward 25 years.

When he ran across this original, Lemon Twist 340 four-speed car, Jack Struller of Passaic, New Jersey, was planning to part it out and sell the pieces through his shop, Plum Crazy. The remains would be off to the crusher. But it tugged at his heart—-Jack had a similar one when he was a kid—and he needed a fun driver to take to shows and help advertise his business.

Soon, Jack started unbolting stuff. He slapped the leftovers on a rotisserie and went to town. The engine is the original 340 treated to a .030-inch overbore plus the de rigueur balance and blueprint job. The factory X heads have been worked "big time," says Jack—ported, polished, cc'd, and treated to 2.08/1.68 valves and bronze valve guides.

(Rockers and pushrods remain stock.) A complement of 10.5:1 TRW pistons and moly file-fit rings fill the sleeves and turn a chamfered and polished crank. A purple-shaft Mopar cam (.509-inch intake lift) and a Cloyes timing chain complete the in-the-block mods. Exhaust is via headers Jack found in his attic (now Jet-Hot-coated), which blow through a full 2½-inch custom dual exhaust fabricated by Mufflex in Trenton, New Jersey, with Flowmaster cans at the core. See all 4 photos 4 photos A 625-cfm Carter AFB sits atop an Edelbrock intake.

The functional airgrabber setup is something Jack devised himself, using a stock base, a four-barrel shaker top, a stock air cleaner, and the rubber seal from the back of the hood to seal the scoop. Mopar electronic ignition keeps it sparkin' (Jack maintains 34 degrees total at 2,500 rpm), and the battery is trunk-mounted for better weight distribution.

He figures this combo is worth nearly 400 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. The sound alone will convince you that the sucker-punch factor was laid to rest some time ago. All that energy is sent out to an 833 A-body four-speed, which in turn twists 4.10:1 gears in the 8¾-inch rear axle. A Centerforce dual-friction clutch and a pistol-grip shifter keep Jack in control…when he wants to be in control, that is. See all 4 photos 4 photos In order to get the traction he needs on launch, Jack installed a set of Mopar Performance Super Stock springs and a pinion snubber.

This change relocates the leaf-spring perches inboard from the chassis to the subframe itself, altering the rear-suspension geometry slightly, and limiting the amount of axle travel on launch. This allows for fatter tires and performance numbers that'll make you wonder if it's really the same car. Small-bolt-pattern 15x10 Center Lines and L60-15 Mickey Thompson slicks get the motivatin' power to the ground, while 15x4 Center Lines and VW Beetle tires (again, found in the attic) hold up the front end.

A PST polyurethane bushing kit, Competition Engineering shocks, manual steering, and vintage four-wheel-drum brakes complete the package. Inside it's comfortable but all business. The four-point cage is frame-tied, and a fat Tuff Wheel and radio-delete are further clues to the Duster's no-nonsense approach to life on north Jersey's nasty streets.

Of course, the Auto Meter monster tach on the dash is a giveaway, too. The panels, seating materials, and all the rest were obtained through Legendary reproduction upholstery. The body has been refurbished with NOS panels and Jack's master craftsmanship. Look down the side: ain't no wavy gravy happening there.

It's all straight, pretty, and like factory-new. Jack took his time applying four coats of DBU Lemon Twist basecoat/clearcoat paint with three coats of clear. The stripes and decals came from Jack's Auto Parts (a different Jack) in Howell, New Jersey. Have no doubt that this is something designed to kick you in the small of the back and get you moving.

Jack's driven about 5,000 miles since completing it a year ago—including a shakedown run from his Passaic shop to Hartford, Connecticut—with no problems. Better still, the 3,000-pound package is good for mid-12s at the strip. Only a dope would ignore this Mope.

Go to original article source

Related : Kids need to go back to school


Trenton, NJ







Overall Article Rating:
View Article Ratings
Contributions (0)
Add Contribution

A contribution is an additional perspective to the primary article. You may add your contribution to the article and it will be featured below the primary article. Each contribution will follow the article in order of date added.

Comment (0)