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Abandoned 1971 Plymouth Duster Is Still Sassy in Green, Unexpected Surprise Under the Hood

Introduced in 1969 as a fastback coupe version of the Valiant, the Plymouth Duster was discontinued only seven years later. But that short stint was enough to turn it into a desirable classic.
1971 Plymouth Duster 7 photos
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Granted, the Duster is not as sought-after as other vehicles from the era, especially when compared to the more iconic muscle cars, but it's a cool compact to own and drive. Especially since it was available in all the high-impact colors that made most Mopars stand out in the early 1970s.

And needless to say, the range-topping 340-cubic-inch (5.6-liter) V8, rated at 275 horsepower, was nothing to sneeze at in a car that tipped the scales at around 3,250 pounds.

The mill was offered in a separate trim called the Duster 340. And it's relatively rare compared to the rest. For instance, of the almost 900,000 Dusters produced for the 1970 to 1973 model years, only about 69,000 came with the 340 V8 under the hood. And the 1971 version is the rarest of them all, with only 12,886 examples sold that year.

The Duster you're looking at here is one of those cars. And while it's not exactly rare compared to other contemporary pony cars, the factory Sassy Grass paint turns it into a hard-to-find gem. And yes, the bright green paint is as original as they get, albeit it has seen better days.

As you might have already figured out, this 1971 Duster was recently rescued after spending several years off the road. There's no info as to when this Mopar was parked, but judging by the way it looks, it must have been retired at least 20 years ago.

But it's in pretty good shape. There's next to no rust to worry about and it still rocks the cool black stripes and "340" decals. It's also complete, but there's some disappointing news under the hood. That's because the numbers-matching 340 V8 is gone.

Sadly, someone took the original mill out and dropped a 318-cubic-inch (5.2-liter) V8 in place. Since the Duster also came with 318s from the factory, there's a chance it's a period-correct mill, but it comes with a notable drop in performance. In 1971, the 318 came with 230 horsepower on tap.

On top of that, somebody painted the engine bay Plum Crazy purple, apparently as a first step in repainting the entire car. As much as I love purple Mopars, Sassy Grass is simply too awesome to be replaced by Plum Crazy. So I think it's a good thing the previous owner didn't go through with the repaint.

All told, this 1971 Duster is definitely worthy of a restoration that will also include a replacement 340 V8. And sourcing one shouldn't be too difficult given it's not a super-rare mill. Check out this still-gorgeous "barn find" in the video below.

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