Dale Renner's 1970 Plymouth Duster
(from Volume 26, Issue 332)

story by Dale Renner, photos by Michael B. Kelly

 

Growing up, I was always surrounded by Mopars. That would play an important part in my childhood and shape my passion for cars (along with “Jungle Jim” Liberman throwing me into his Monza Funny Car when I was 7....but that explains my drag racing passion). For as long as I can remember, I have always been into Mopars. When I was young, my dad had a ‘73 Road Runner and my mom had a ‘73 Duster 340 that I absolutely loved!

Like every young kid, I couldn’t wait to get my driver’s license and already knew what I wanted; a Mopar of some type, preferably an A-Body. I drove my mom and dad crazy looking for a decent A-Body. We even had a few pit bulls chase my mom and I back to her car! After searching for a while, a longtime family friend who also had his own mechanic shop found a ‘70 Duster that he thought would interest me. When I saw it for the first time, I knew it was the perfect car for me so I bought it at the age of 15.

The Duster was sitting on a set of Slot Mags with Kelly Charger L60 tires out back and had a custom “roll bar” made from stick welded exhaust tubing along with a big Hemi style hood scoop. Although the Duster was originally FM3 Panther Pink, I decided to paint it Lime Green instead. I drove the car to school every day during the week, and in the evenings and on weekends would cruise around the Lansdale and Pottstown, Pennsylvania areas.

The car became a project of sorts for me and my dad. We would take it to Maple Grove Raceway and it slowly progressed and got faster with time. We would always talk about how someday we would like to totally redo it as a full Pro Street car and go all out with it. After I had my first son and a couple year stint in Pennsylvania Dirt Modified racing, the car took a back seat for Little League games and the likewise.

The car would continue to sit around until 1999 when I got a call that nobody wants to get; my dad was sick with Stage 4 lung cancer and didn’t have long to live. Sadly, he would pass away shortly after in 1999 at the age of 46. After coming back from the funeral, I started taking the car to Maple Grove Raceway again as a part of my own therapy process. That’s when I decided it was time to turn it into a full Pro Street car like we had always talked about. I started doing a ton of research on what I wanted and my buddies all rallied around me ready to help “do it like Pop wanted it”.

The Duster was quickly torn apart and the project started picking up steam. I dropped it off with longtime family friend Jim Geese, and then it was taken to Vanishing Point Racecars for the full Pro Street treatment such as back halfing and tubbing it. The rear quarter panels were stretched 4-1/2 inches to fit the big tires, and the antenna and fuel cap were both filled in. Everything was then test fitted before the car was sent off to Rich Mitman at Top Notch Body Worx in Sellersville, PA to get painted back to it’s original FM3 Panther Pink. Black 340 stripes, a rear Go-Wing and a US Body Source Six Pack style hood finished off the exterior.

The old homemade roll bar was removed and replaced with a proper 12-point roll cage. Underneath, a four-link system was built with Chromoly round tubing. A Chromoly K-Frame was installed with Chromoly upper and lower control arms and rack and pinion steering. To match the Panther Pink paint job, the K-frame, four-link system and roll cage were painted Panther Pink as well. Aldan Eagle coil overs are also fitted. It rides on Centerline Warrior wheels with custom made bead locks. Out back sits a pair of 33x22.5 inch Hoosier Quick Time Pros, and Mickey Thompsons reside up front.

On the inside, a custom hand build dash was installed along with Kirkey Racing bucket seats, Stroud Safety 5-point harnesses, window netting, Mopar Performance gauges and a Grant GT steering wheel. I even had a custom child seat made to fit the back seat area of the car.

Under the hood sits a 1970 340 cubic inch small block that has been bored .030 over and has 14:1 compression. It’s been totally built with a .603 lift cam and ARP head studs and fasteners throughout. The heads are 340 X-heads that have been upgraded with 2.08 ported and polished valves along with Harland Sharp roller rockers. Up top sits a Mopar M-1 intake manifold with an MSD Atomic EFI system. Everything breathes through Hooker Super Competition headers that run into a Spintech 4-1/2 inch exhaust system. Transmission duties are handled by a Torque Flite 727 with reverse manual valve body and Trans Specialties 5,500 stall 8-inch converter.

I really want to thank my crew chief Dalton Renner, who takes care of this car with the same passion as I have for it, and gets it ready for all the big shows. I would also like to thank Ryan “Gibby” Gibson, and my middle son James who are always there to help us get ready. My wife Kim, my younger son Derek and my mom Liz for all of their support, help and always keeping us going for the next show or race. A bunch of huge thank you’s also go out to Jeff Wenhold, Darren Transue, Bill Petersen, Dana Pannapacker, Mike Frey, Jim Geese, and Don Carey for all of their help building the car, as well as Rich Mitman and his team! I would Also like to thank Keith Hart and Category 5 Racecars who helped update the wheels without changing them (these are the wheels that my father had circled in the hospital bed the day before his passing so I could never change them, but I can update them). Their paint job still wins Best Paint awards 18 years after it was painted! The car has won quite a few awards on both the local and National indoor show circuit, and even a Concourse d’Elegance award for Outstanding Muscle Car. It was also featured on several TV shows, with the latest being “Car Fix TV” on the Velocity Channel, and recently on Fox TV’s coverage of the Gatornationals with my club, “The Gator Gang”. CN

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