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The first Plymouth Duster was a semi-fastback version of the Plymouth Valiant automobile, produced in the USmarker from 1970 to 1976.

The Duster competed with Ford's slightly smaller semi-fastback Maverick compact, which was also introduced in 1970, and Chevrolet's slightly larger semi-fastback Nova, sporting a body that was introduced in 1968. While the Maverick and Nova were offered in a 4-door configuration, Chrysler chose to use the Duster nameplate only for the sporty 2-door coupe, retaining the Valiant name for the more mundane 4-door sedan and 2-door hardtop. The Duster resulted from the Plymouth planning staff's desire to use their allotted 1970 restyling money for something more desirable than the usual two and four-door Valiants. The Valiant platform was used, with front end sheetmetal the same, but completely different from the cowl back. The Duster was also created to fill the slot that was formerly occupied by the Valiant-based Barracuda. When the Barracuda moved from its A-body platform to the new E-body platform in 1970, this left a hole in Plymouth's lineup for a sporty compact. The Duster would fill this gap and would be one of many factors in the sales failure of the E-body pony car Barracuda .

Numerous variants of the Duster were offered, with focus ranging from economy to cargo capacity to performance, with such model names as Feather Duster, Gold Duster, Silver Duster, Space Duster, Duster Twister, 340 Duster and 360 Duster.

In the mid year of 1976 the Aspen and Volare twins replaced the Dodge Dart and Plymouth Duster which were still based on bodies originally sold in 1967. The fastback coupes featured a solid B-pillar with fixed rear glass. These new models were introduced to compete with the more upscale Ford Granada and Mercury Monarch. However, recalls on the body, suspension, ignition and fuel systems, brakes and steering systems would damage the reputation of the newer nameplates even after the problems were fixed. This would lead Lee Iacocca to conclude in his autobiography:

1970 - Introduction

In 1970, Plymouth unveiled the new Duster model. The Duster was all Valiant from the cowl forward, but the rest of the car was completely different. It used a semi-fastback roof and a special rear valance with twin horizontal taillights. For 1970 only, a small Valiant badge went on the front fenders just above the Duster badge.

The 1970 Duster was available in two models — the standard Duster and the performance-oriented Duster 340. Engine options were and versions of Chrysler's Slant Six and and LA-series V8s.

At midyear, a Gold Duster trim package was added. The Gold Duster package came with either the 225 Slant Six or the 318 V8. It also came with special "Gold Duster" badging, gold stripes on the sides and rear, wall-to-wall carpeting, pleated, all-vinyl seats, whitewalls, wheel covers, a deluxe insulation package, and a canopy vinyl roof. The Gold Duster was offered through 1975. . Total sales in 1970 came to 217,192 , of which 24,817 were equipped with the 340 engine .

1971

The Duster was a success for Plymouth, so much so that in 1971 Dodge requested and received their own version, the Demon. In response, Plymouth was given a version of the Dodge Dart Swinger 2-door hardtop named the Plymouth Scamp.

For 1971, only small changes were made to the Duster. The "Valiant" fender badges and "Plymouth" grille logotype were deleted. A new trim package was released, called the Duster Twister. The Twister package presented the aggressive appearance of the Duster 340, but came only with insurance-friendly Slant Six I6 or 318 power. The Twister's appearance package included special side stripes that mimicked the Duster 340 Wedge stripes, a matte-black hood and the 340's special shark-tooth grille. A nonfunctional dual hood scoop and rear spoiler appearance package was available, as were high-back bucket seats and dual exhaust.

1972

The Duster was not changed significantly for 1972. New surface-mount sidemarker lights replaced the previous flush-mount items, the taillamps became larger, one-piece units. The 340 V8's power rating was reduced from to due in part to a reduction in compression ratio from 10.2:1 to 8.5:1 as well as changing the intake valves from to though all horsepower rating numbers, even on unchanged engines, decreased for 1972 due to a new rating protocol.

1973-76

Like the Valiant, the Duster was given a new hood, grille, front fenders, bumpers and taillights for 1973. The taillights on previous years mounted from the inside and had a flush appearance. Starting in 1973, the taillights were mounted from the outside and were trimmed in chrome. These remained unchanged through 1976.

For 1974, Plymouth replaced the 340 with a version of the corporate LA-series V8, with lower performance due to U.S. government-imposed emissions regulations. In the midst of the first oil crisis, 1974 would be the Duster's best sales year, with a total of 281,378 Duster-bodied cars produced .

The 1976 Feather Duster was an engineering success, featuring many lightweight parts including the intake manifold, bumper brackets, hood and trunk bracing, and manual transmission housing. It had a 225 Slant Six calibrated for economy, a low-restriction exhaust system, an extra-high rear axle ratio and was offered with either the Torqueflite 3-speed automatic or A833 overdrive 4-speed manual transmission. It was, by far, the most fuel-efficient car in its size class (along with Dodge's version, the Dart Lite). There was also a version called the Space Duster that had fold-down rear seats, and along with the huge trunk had over 50 cu. ft. of cargo space and a version called the Silver Duster with special stripes and a cloth Boca Raton style interior. That same year, the Duster 360 option was deleted. However, it is estimated that less than 200 cars were equipped with this 5.9 litre engine.

In the mid year of 1976 the Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare twins replaced the Dodge Dart and Plymouth Duster.

File:Plymouth Duster (Orange Julep).jpg|1970 Plymouth DusterImage:'74 Plymouth Duster (Rigaud).jpg|1974 Plymouth DusterImage:'75 Plymouth Duster (Rigaud).jpg|1975 Plymouth Duster

Revivals of the Duster name

1993 Plymouth Duster, stock V6 automatic configuration
The Duster name was first revived for a trim package available on the 1979-80 Plymouth Volare coupe, then on the front wheel drive 1985-87 Plymouth Turismo, and finally, from 1992 to 1994 V6-powered Plymouth Sundance coupes and hatchbacks.

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