GREET­INGS FROM THE GRAVE

Mopar Muscle - - Contents - BY MARK WOR­MAN

Turn on the ra­dio and … push, clunk, 590 KUGN “... the first time ever I saw your face, I thought the sun rose in your eyes …” Nope. Push, clunk, 1050 KPNW “… In the desert you can re­mem­ber your name ‘cause there ain’t no one for …”

Don’t think so.

Push, clunk, 1280 KBDF “... Hel­ter skel­ter in a sum­mer swel­ter, the birds flew off with a fall­out shel­ter, eight miles high and fall­ing fast …”

“Yes!” Start car, slam in gear, ad­just the mir­ror, and stand on it!

If you were a 17-year-old guy in April of 1972, the above is likely a pretty good de­pic­tion of an ev­ery­day oc­cur­rence in your life. As for me, I was only 9 in April of 1972 — much too young to have a car, ob­vi­ously, but that didn’t stop me from earnestly build­ing ev­ery model car I bought with my al­lowance money. Those lit­tle boxes of won­drous art are truly what launched my life­long pas­sion for au­to­mo­biles. My mom loved the lit­tle cars I’d build. She kept them for many years after I left home. Sadly, I don’t know what be­came of them.

While I don’t have me­mories of sit­ting in my car lis­ten­ing to mu­sic blaring through the cen­ter dash speaker pow­ered by a Mu­sic Mas­ter 9-watt, fac­tory AM ra­dio in 1972, I do re­call sit­ting in my room at a lit­tle white, hand-painted chest of draw­ers with red knobs and the aroma of Testor’s paint and model glue in the air while “as­sem­bling with care,” lis­ten­ing to my mom and dad in the liv­ing room, laugh­ing out loud with the lyri­cal stylings of Archie and Edith Bunker: “Boy the way Glenn Miller played, songs that made the hit pa­rade, guys like us, we had it made, those were the days.”

I can still hear the song in my heart and re­mem­ber those days as the best days of my life. I may not have thought so at the time, but in the rearview mir­ror, yeah, those were the days.

Keep­ing in my tra­di­tional OEM style, I’ll segue to my story with this quote from the top box of­fice draw in April of ’72: “I’m gonna make him an of­fer he can’t refuse,” -Don Vito Cor­leone.

On April 9, 1972, Jim turned 17 years old. To cel­e­brate, he walked into Ma­honey Mo­tors in Yonkers New York, with his life’s sav­ings in hand, his mother by his side, and or­dered his dream car.

AND THAT’S EX­ACTLY WHAT OUR CLIENT DID …

On April 9, 1972, Jim turned 17. To cel­e­brate, he walked into Ma­honey Mo­tors in Yonkers New York, with his life’s sav­ings in hand, his mother by his side, and or­dered his dream car. Now, a lot of cere­bral fire­works are go­ing off when a young fel­low of 17 gets to or­der his car brand new. I wouldn’t per­son­ally know, I saved my money from pa­per routes and lawn mow­ing when I was 14 and bought the neigh­bor’s 1965 Mer­cury Mon­terey, four-door sedan, for the whop­ping price of $35. I got the car run­ning and later sold it to a de­mo­li­tion derby driver from the Eu­gene Speed­way named Joker Crenshaw for $60. All in all, not a bad flip, con­sid­er­ing it was my first buy/sell ex­pe­ri­ence. I watched the old Merc’s de­but at the Speed­way on Satur­day night, along­side my best buddy Royal. I’m dis­ap­pointed to re­port that on the last lap of the first heat race, Joker took a hard shot in the left quar­ter from Tommy “Take Paint To Pass” Parker, in his 1970 Chrysler New Yorker, and landed on the 4-foot con­crete wall, high cen­tered on the Ford 9-inch, while Sam “The Happy Hooker” Hooker took the check­ered flag for the win.

BUT, I DI­GRESS …

“Ply­mouth Duster,” the birth­day boy says. I want a Duster with a 340 (VS29H) and a four-speed (D21). I want it in Tawny Gold (GY9) and no vinyl top. Give me black bucket seats (C6x9), tinted glass (G11), an in­side hood re­lease (J52), rear de­fog­ger (H31), AM/FM ra­dio (R21), power steer­ing (S77), and a rear speaker (R24). “Oh,” he says, “and I also want E70-14 Goodyear Poly­glas tires all the way around. Also, lose the fac­tory side and deck lid stripes.” After a day of care­fully study­ing the dealer or­der book one last time, Jim handed over $3,566.75, and the Tawny Gold Metal­lic 1972 Ply­mouth Duster 340 was or­dered.

The car showed up ap­prox­i­mately three weeks later, and Jim drove it home. After tak­ing de­liv­ery of it, it didn’t take him long to do what a lot of us cars guys do when we get a new car: make it our own. Jim pur­chased and in­stalled five-spoke Cra­gar wheels, a Hurst “T” han­dle shifter and a Grant steer­ing wheel. He loved that car. He washed it daily, and I have no doubt that he would own that car to this very day, if fate had not in­ter­vened.

FAST-FOR­WARD

On April 8, 1984, nearly 12 years to the day that Jim bought the Duster, he re­ceived a phone call from his mother. She was ec­static and said she had a spe­cial birth­day present for him. In­deed it was; it turns out that his mother had won a brand-new 1984 Mer­cury Lynx in a raf­fle held in Bridge­port, Con­necti­cut. Her spe­cial present to her son would be the car she won just one day be­fore Jim’s birth­day. I be­lieve it was Mark Twain who wrote: “The truth is stranger than fic­tion.”

As the story goes, after get­ting the new, sporty, and fuel-ef­fi­cient Mer­cury Lynx, Jim made the de­ci­sion to sell his beloved Duster — a de­ci­sion that haunts him to this day.

But, have no fear, Grave­yard Mo­torz is here. This sort of client is ex­actly what I had in mind when I first con­ceived the ’70s era Mopar deal­er­ship, Grave­yard

I floated the idea to him about hav­ing us recre­ate his dream ma­chine. I mean, after all, he still had the birth cer­tifi­cate to the car.

Mo­torz. The deal­er­ship store­front may not be fully up and run­ning yet, but that won’t stop us from mak­ing Grave­yard Dreamz a re­al­ity.

Ap­prox­i­mately three years ago, Jim reached out to me and shared his story. He told me he still had the orig­i­nal win­dow sticker (Mon­roney sticker) from his Duster. He was ex­cited to talk about his old car and all of the won­der­ful me­mories he had with it. He was dis­cour­aged, how­ever, be­cause after years of look­ing for his orig­i­nal car, he had given up hope of find­ing it. I know this feel­ing, be­cause I too have spent most of my adult life look­ing for my old Charger, to no avail.

I floated the idea to him about hav­ing us recre­ate his dream ma­chine. I mean, after all, he still had the birth cer­tifi­cate to the car. On that phone call we agreed to a price to repli­cate his orig­i­nal car, right down to the Cra­gar wheels and Hurst T-han­dle shifter. The best part for me was that I could eas­ily find a nice donor ’72 Duster lo­cally and could prob­a­bly be a lit­tle picky in the process. Ply­mouth made a lot of these cars when you con­sider the Slant Six and 318-equipped mod­els.

So, over the past few years, here’s where we are. I pur­chased a re­ally nice, solid 1972 Duster with a Slant Six and au­to­matic on the col­umn. We dis­as­sem­bled the car and had the body dipped. I had sev­eral H-340s (’72 model en­gines) to choose from that I owned, so I picked the best one and re­built it to fac­tory spec­i­fi­ca­tions. We dressed the en­gine out in ac­cor­dance with a cor­rect, orig­i­nal 340 of that year. This in­cluded pur­chas­ing a cor­rect Ther­mo­quad car­bu­re­tor and hav­ing Scott Smith at Harms Auto re­store it for us.

The trans­mis­sion is a date-coded, cor­rect A-body, four-speed box. I had our friends at Pas­son Per­for­mance re­build and de­tail it to fac­tory specs. Tony’s Mopar Parts sup­plied us with the cor­rect K-mem­ber and disc brake com­po­nents, as well as the 8 3/4 rear axle assem­bly. The ma­jor­ity of the parts, such as in­te­rior soft trim, chrome and bright work, wiring har­nesses, etc., came from Clas­sic In­dus­tries.

One of the coolest fea­tures, by a mile, on the ’71 and ’72, 340 Dusters, was the Shark’s Tooth Grille. I ad­mit, when I took on the project, that’s the one thing that wor­ried me most, as I knew they were get­ting hard to find. I was pleas­antly sur­prised to see that Clas­sic In­dus­tries had be­gun mak­ing the grille assem­bly and head­light doors. Trust me when I say parts are hard enough to chase down when they are plen­ti­ful, but when they’re as rare as a 50-foot shark (pun in­tended), they’re that much tougher.

Will and the Ghoulz did an amaz­ing job on body and paint for this lit­tle A-body — it looks fan­tas­tic! We matched the GY9 Tawny Gold, per­fectly to an orig­i­nal paint panel I had from a 1971 Bar­racuda, with the help of PPG’S Del­tron basecoat line and then cleared it with DCU 2002 polyurethane.

We aren’t quite fin­ished as of this ar­ti­cle, but by the time you read it, we’ll have un­veiled it to the proud owner. Stay tuned to watch the epic re­veal this fall on Grave­yard Carz.

Also, stay tuned for more up­dates on the new Mopar deal­er­ship, Grave­yard Mo­torz — com­ing soon! I’ll leave you with these words of wis­dom from a truly iconic Amer­i­can:

“I’m a man. Men have got an­other thing ... they got whad­dya call, a car­ni­val in­stinct,” -Archie Bunker.

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