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.

1967-fury3-sedan

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.

1971_Dart_Swinger

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s