1973 Duster 340

I did post the Falcon buyer and he did not reply so far.  So no news on Falcooney.  Just as well, I have no time for projects.

So here I am getting ready for college now without my college purpose built college car.  It was a bad plan anyway.  Without telling me as I remember my dad went out and bought a 1968 red Plymouth Fury III 4 door sedan, 318 automatic.  At first it was a “spare” car.  But then I found out it was for me as I suspected.  Really Dad, a full size Fury sedan with a 318?  But after a while I realized the old man made a smart move for me.  The Falcon was not reliable transportation.  And my parents wanted to move to Florida from New Jersey after I graduated.  They had been waiting for that day.  So my barge was big and safe and reliable.  The trunk will hold 4 people.  Ask me how I know that.  But it refused to do a burn out, unlike my similar Dads, 1968 4 door hardtop 383 Commando powered barge.  No Commandos for me.  Good move dad.


This Fury III boat looks exactly like mine, except mine was Racer Red.  Check out the pickup sized trunk!  This one was also a 318 like mine with no Comando badge like my Dad’s Fury.  So those burnout marks were not made by this car. 

Anyway I decided to love the one I was with.  First order of business was a pair of 15 inch L70x15 tires in the back to harness my 318 automatic.  Even though speed was not the essence of this car it had to have a sleeper look.   A Cherry Bomb muffler finished off the Charade.  Actually this car was a move up from the Falcon considering the fact I had my first girlfriend.  That Fury was a moving motel room.  Also to step up the Fury to my standards I added a kicking stereo with 6x9s and front speakers bolted to the floor.  It was a love shack.

So after moving to Florida and abandoning my first high school girlfriend, I moved to Florida with my parents.  We drove down a day or two after I graduated with me driving the red Fury III.  The night before was my final date before moving to Florida.  I did not have much sleep and scared the crap out of my parents driving off the road once that first morning.  I needed a Monster!  Luckily for me in those days the road to Florida was mostly barren.  It did “wake me up” to the responsibility of driving a car.

I left home and drove to Villanova, my college NROTC destination.  At first I kept up my relationship with my girlfriend and every weekend drove back to Palmyra to hang out with her and my friends.  A date with her, then hanging up-town, then crashing wherever I could find a bed or not.  This worked for a few months.  After a Time I decided to get a part time job at school to make some extra cash once again washing dishes, my teenage career.  And I thought, man now I can upgrade the Fury!  I started working on my parents.  “That Fury is letting me down, it won’t last long.” And so on.

After whining for a few weeks/months they gave in.  (They always spoiled me.)  So I told them I had lined up the perfect car, a 1973 Duster 340.  It was just like Mom’s 1971 Dart except with a more reliable V8 and with a manual (4 speed!) for better gas mileage. I would order the car with few options to save the dollars and use whatever I got for the Fury 3 as a down payment.  What an iron clad plan!  They agreed.

Next decision, I really wanted bucket seats, but then thinking of my sweetie I would just get the bench seat so she could snuggle.  Smooth.  So I ordered a Plymouth Duster 340 with a four speed, vinyl interior (to get the cooler separate head rests), Rallye wheels.  It had front disc brakes stock!  And electronic ignition.  High tech!  I think it came to around $3,000 in 1973 with taxes and tags.   And I had the Jensen stereo with Jensen 6x9s from the red Fury so good tunes were mine.  Inflation moves on as a perfect 1973 Duster is worth around $30,000!  I should have bought 10 of them.  As I waited what seemed like forever I sold my Fury for $800 and waited for the big day.

Unfortunately this put a crimp in my relationship with my girl.  Since I disappeared for a while (and maybe because I was still a 19 year old child) her old boyfriend rekindled their relationship.  And my parents fought all the time and I remember telling her, “I never want to get married”.  Oops!  I was dumped and was devastated for quite some time.  I realized I was going to school because I thought I had to.   And now my future seemed lost.

I was very excited (a big understatement) when the 340 Duster came in and my friend Life picked me up in Villanova and delivered me to Cherry Hill Plymouth-Dodge.  I did have some good times with the Duster.  It was fun with the V8 burble and a 4 speed.  I have to admit it did soften the blow of losing my best friend in the world. Smart and beautiful she was.  I did carry that torch for a while.

1973_Duster ad

I thought for a while this was a pic of my car.  But the turn signal lights on the top of the fender were not on my car as I passed on that option.  Otherwise my Duster looked exactly like this.  I still carry a torch for this car along with Falcoony.

I still came back to Palmyra on the weekends.  But it was much harder to live out of the Duster like it was with the aircraft carrier Fury III.  Over time I stopped going to class and felt sorry for myself.  It was not pretty, but time heals, as I found out.  But College was not for me.  My Marine haircut was a badge of dishonor to the other students.  The times were still volatile in 1973.  My roommate Dan, and a guy across the hall, Tom were my only friends at college.  Most of the time at meals I sat alone and ate far too many hamburgers and hot dogs.  So I decided to check out.  Also with my NROTC Marine option my peers were a little too anxious to start shooting people.  And I resented the mind games to break me down to turn me into a soldier.  I remember a couple of want to be Marine officer invited me down to John Barry Hall to practice shooting Gooks with them.  That was the last straw.

I “marched” to Jon Barry Hall and requested a meeting with the Navy CO.  I told him I wanted out.  He was really nice to me and said I would make a fine officer once I got my stuff together.  I could even stay another year without any obligation to join the corp.

I replied that in good conscience I could not take that offer as I had already made my decision.  And in addition I was not sure I could ever pull the trigger to end someone’s life.  What if I hesitated and others died as a result?  I was not a solder much less an officer.  Well then he agreed with my decision and wished me well.  Right then I wished I was not color blind.  I could have been in the Navy and I loved being on the water.  But I was not a Marine.  I was not afraid of dying, given my number of brushes with death already.  But I could not be a killer.  And so when the semester was over I packed up the Duster and trekked back to Florida.

My parents were not happy.  Big understatement.  And I asked my Dad to sell the Duster.  I could no longer afford it.  He was mad I did not order AC, a must have in Florida.  Why didn’t he tell me to do, that?  But when he put it in the paper he sold it in one day.  It was a striking car and fun to drive.  He was surprised.  It was so with the bench seat and the tall 4 speed stick in the middle.

And so I got a job delivering newspapers to save up enough to move back to the north.  I lived with my parents again and dreamed of the day when I would leave for the north.

In the meantime my Mom wanted a new car, or so she said.  Currently she had a 1971 Dart Swinger that ran great and looked perfect.  So I researched the ads and found her a new 1973 Pontiac Ventura with an auto, v8, and air.  It was a left over and was listed at $100’s off.  She bought that car and later my Dad said this was the worst car they ever owned except for the Peugeot 504 I convinced him to buy.

But after the purchase my parents gave me the Dart Swinger.  I was underwhelmed, a 6 cylinder Dart with an automatic?  I was such an ungrateful POS.  I did save a little money and looked around.  I almost bought a 1969 Chevelle SS396 auto for $900, but when my parents learned of this they hit the roof.  Now I don’t blame them.  They won the battle.  In the meantime my friend Life offered his spare bedroom in his parent’s house in NJ to me until I found a job.

So at 19 I packed up my baby blue Dodge Dart and moved back to New Jersey.


My Swinger looked exactly like this.  It ran like a top for as long as I owned it.  That was not long……

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