Hey everyone, great to be back to FTE! I have been around for years now, but kinda inactive for a while, I was out cruising mopar sites! A little about me, I have been a Mopar guy for years...since before I could drive. Sometime around 94 I become a Ford Truck convert. So now I am a give me a Ford truck or give me death kinda guy, and when Mopar quite building rearwheel drive cars I signed off. Then they almost sucked me back in...until they went ahead and took a bailout...Modern Chryco is dead to me forever more. Anyways back to the back story, I wandered from FTE for a while, checking out some pretty good (education wise) mopar sites, but it was a pretty elite club, not very welcoming, and really not very helpful! So last week of Oct.2011, I trolled over to FTE again. Wouldnt you know it, within 10 minutes one of my old FTE pals had some solid, constructive advise to help with my Duster! Yup 10 minutes was all it took to be welcomed back into the FTE family! So now you know why you are reading a build-up thread for a Plymouth Duster, form some tool with a Mopar screenname on your beloved Ford Truck website! Oh and for the record, I do own a 1990 250 super, 4x4, with a 351, that I intend to keep as long as I can still get parts...it has been an amazing truck!
So last summer I had these renderings done, he was a really nice guy and very reasonable, but he just missed what I had in mind. Ibelieve I still have some more rendering pics that are a little closer to my vision but still no cigar. The last pic in the above post is the car as of this summer when the fire got relite under my butt. The car came from Az. it is a really dry, clean example of a lil old ladies car with a /6 and a floor shift manual. It is a 1971, the year I was born, and my lifelong dream car. When my buddies and I were sitting around talking about what car we were gonna buy when we made the bigtime...My response was always a 1971 Plymouth Duster. Here we are years later, 40 yrs. old, and I have my dream car....my buddies, well they still have pics!
So the rendering pics...the 1st one is a really close semblance to a factory built car, plus front and rear spoilers and a six-pak hood scoop. Good looking but not quite my cup of tea. The 2nd set of pics get much closer to my vision. In 71 Plymouth had an engine callout sticker on the corner of the hood, said 340 wedge, that is about where you see that white gumball with the 71 in it. I have since tweeked that idea a little more, now it is going to be a large red version of the factory dustcloud graphic( I will try and upload a pic, gotta steal it from Rocker Kenny Wayne Shepards Duster! hahaha!) with the number 71 in the cloud! As for the two tone...well he missed that by one body line also. If you look beneath the line where the two colors meet, you will see another bodyline. The 1st one beneath the current break is where my two tone is gonna change. The line will go all the way to the front grille, and turn downwards to completely cover the front leading edge of the car in black, including the bumper. Moving to the rear, on the tailpanel in the middle top2bottom you will see the continuation of that bodyline. That will be the break once again, so the tail panel will also be twotoned, and the rear bumper will be painted to match the lower color! Ahhhhhh the color.....well along the way, I decided as much asI love red, I just cant afford to paint it red, and I wanted a darker, more menacing look! So the color comes from my wifes 2011 Honda Oddyssey minivan, Polished Metal Metallic, a very dark charcoal gray. No negative comments about her Honda....Ford didnt have a minivan, and when Mama is happy.....everyone is happy! Continueing along, he got the wheels right...for now, they are Cragar soft 8's, I already own them and originally the car was too have a road/circle track vibe to it, so they worked and got me my 17" dia. After the car is on the road, I will change out the wheels over a winter.
Having trouble bringing up more pics, lets try again. Ok no dice on the pics at this time. So originally this car was being built for open road racing...like the Silver State Classic etc. Full cage, fuel cell, 2 seats blah blah blah. Well after the cage was installed the car sat for 3 years untouched. I paid my storage rent to the little girl next door, but truthfully, I had no idea if the car was even in her garage anymore! The cage was built and installed by a former customer/friend of mine in Moline Il! I was always asking Joe, how to do this, how to do that, or weld up this part for me etc. One day while deliverying steel to his day job, for my former employer, he tells me..."why dont you just bring it down to my homeshop and we will work on it on Saturdays! He didnt have to tell me twice! It was down there that Saturday! While there we installed the cage, beefed up the front core support to frame rail area, and the front cowl panel to shocktower area, and finally welded the shock top mounts solidly to the inner fender well. Let me tell you Joe is an artist, he wielded his tig torch like a samurai sword, the work was beautiful! In the 3rd pic above you can see where the tubes were installed in the fenderwell tying the cowl panel to the shock towers. Man was the car stiff after all those mods...I was able to place a jack just behind the front, or just in front of the rear tires, and lift 3 corners of the car off of the ground. It was cool to watch!
Hercules,hercules hercules....my baby so strong!!! thank you Eddie Murphy! Yup big, dumb and real strong! Dont mind my attempt at letting my hair grow for a year, made it 11 months, then lost it, and shaved it back down to Uncle Sams finest haircut! That was me dropping the front suspension and k-frame off of the car. 10 bolts, 20-25 minutes and Walla you have a giant mopar wheelbarrow! That is the beauty of a muscle mopar, 10 bolts and the front end is free, in fact the car is assembled this way, you bolt the dressed engine and trans to the k-frame and lower the body over the top of it! go together and comes apart this way! Makes dressing the engine and setting clutch and flywheel runout REAL easy! Cany wait to put it together that way!
Now I havent mentioned it yet....but my vision for this car has evolved a little, maybe you can say...I started thinking with the bighead! I realized it was rather unrealistic of me to think, I was gonna get to blow vacation and discretionary income on rich mans games out west! Also realized that with that cage and all the other race oriented stuff, the car had become a 2 passenger! Yet I have a 3 person family, and a motorcycle already, which is a solo/2 passenger vehicle! I love my wife and daughter far too much too not be able to share this car with them! So as I have kinda hinted at already....the cage got cut out!!!!!!!!! My vision was adjusted into a well handling, touring car per se! Think Modern European sedan or coupe, Beemer, Audi... I want it to be fun and comfortable, quiet inside, modern amenities, like stereo, power windows, locks, a/c. It needs to have some zip, and stop on a dime, blast an onramp, and give the fast and furious fits when driven at 7-8/10ths. Something that I can take my wife out to dinner with our friends, and get out at the fancy restaurant holding my head high, yet enjoyable enough to drive that I take it to the grocery store or work!. Dont think for a minute upon its completion that it isnt gonna be driven a bunch! If it aint snowin, or salt on the roads it will always be an option!
So the plan at this time is to use all of the parts I already own, and get the car on the road. Buy just the minimum, which at this time is engine internals, calipers and rotors, gauges and a Hotchkis suspension, or at least part of it. As of now I have the big cop car brakes off of a 70's mopar, a 9" rear from a mid 70's Mark V, which come with really nice vented rotors that are almost as big as the fronts, and bigger than the common Versailles set-up. I have 2 360 engines, 2 833 4 spd manual overdrive transmissions, 1 727 auto(tradebait), a bunch of coolers off of a Chryco squad car, a fast ratio steering box from the same squad car. Tubular upper control arms, reinforced lower control arms, A heavily reinforced k-frame, billet tie rod adjusters, adjustable strut rods. A performer intake, a Thermoquad carb, a bolt on six-pak hoodscoop and 17x9 and 17x8 wheels with 245/40/17 fronts and 275/40/17 rears!
Here is a pic of the long and arduous task of paint removal! Lets just say old undercoating sucks. The tools of the trade....a propane torch, paint scraper, scotch brite wheels and a gallon sized can of Gon! Once I started stripping the exterior panels, it got even tougher, who'da thunk? Somebody covered the light blue original paint with an epoxy primer. The PO used great paint over no prep whatsoever! I couldnt believe it when this stuff laughed at Aircraft stripper!
That 1st pic in the last sequence... The car came from the Arizona /Mexico border...I'm thinking it might have gone south of the border for some cheap body repairs. That Quarter had over an inch thick bondo in many places, the tailpanel also came to me with what looked like a giant spare tire sized dent in the middle. Gave the impression someone tried to push the car with a tire between the Duster and the push vehicle. So the tail panel has also been removed! The car goes into the body shop sometime over the next couple of weeks to start the metal replacement. Lt Quarter, tail panel, rt. quarter, and the trunk extensions. Gotta love that southwestern mud that was packed in those spaces. The next series of pics are of my grille, here is the restomod part of the body build. I decided an all black grille with minor highlights will better support my dark and menacing vision. A really ugly story behind this grille, for now let me just say..."dont do any good guy favors in trade for services, without making sure your services in return are done in a very timely fashion!"
Looks like lotsa work there Dan. I think you made the right choice with the change of direction with the build. The dark grey with black trim sounds great. Nice to see one of these that won't have the air shock stink bug stance. This ain't gonna be no Joe Dirt mopar, No Sir! I like it.
We are in process of doing our T-bird over and will start the wifes Vega next year. The bird has gotten new suspension and is getting a new drive line and interior as we speak. The whole project has taken way too long to get going but we are headed in the same direction as you. I call it the Pro-Cruiser build. Stout, sturdy, and classy with a little pepper in for good measure. The Bird body is super solid and will have to do with the scratches and so on until we get the Vega going. Trying to do both almost at once and still have one to drive see. The Vega is something we picked up this year and have to tone a 9 second car down for the street.
Have I mentioned how much I am starting to hate stripping paint? I finally discovered the razorblade trick, that actually sped the process up quite a bit. I stripped the entire roof via razorblade, it took it down to a very thin layer of factory primer. As of now my the car is pretty close to completely stripped...the right quarter, the roof. I just need to strip all of the jamb areas!. The doors and decklid that are on the car currently, dont need to be stripped. I have extras, and they are all done, prepped, primed straightened, smoothed, and trimmed in with body color.
Here are some older pics, you see the old cage, the all important floor shift manual trans, and my front seats. I intend to have the seats redone in red vinyl, and red leather. All of the "soft" parts in the interior are gonna be red. The carpet will be black, and the headliner will be a dark gray, to match all of the interior tins, that are already body color. The final pic is my beloved daughter, hamming it up for the camera. She goes in spurts, sometimes she loves the car and the idea, other times she hates it!
Cool deal with the razor blade strip down. WOW you are way more dedicated than I. I would have broke out the bead blaster for all that underhood stuff. Your work looks great! Take your daughters help when you can get it. Even if it is only encouragement. Simple handing you rags or tools works great. The more she feels involved the more likely she is to get more involved. That's how it worked for my kids and wife. Just be carefull. I got my wife so involved that she called me one day this April to tell me "I bought that Vega." Now we have another project. She is even doing most of the work now. I show her how and away she goes.
79 T-Bird that we bought in 1997 from AZ. Flew out and drove her home. This pic is after quite some time in storage. The engine was toast so she had to sit. I snagged a fresh rebuilt 400m off e-pay for a song so the disection began. Here is a pic of the Vega from Alabama too.