The Plymouth Feather Duster - Innovation or Sacrilege?

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The Plymouth Feather Duster - Innovation or Sacrilege?

Plymouth Valiant

The 1970s – What a time to be alive! A statement that is even more applicable if you happen to be a car enthusiast with an eye for catchy vehicle designs that stand out and offer ingenuity that has shaped the automotive industry for 4 decades. That said, while some vehicles are remembered fondly, there are more than a few that have, in the years that followed, managed to gain some levels of infamy – among them is the Plymouth Feather Duster.

Introduced in 1969 as a 1970 model, the Duster was a coupe that Chrysler put $15 million dollars into developing as an update of the Valiant. Obviously, taking the platform from the Valiant, it shared identical front end sheet metal but featured unique designs for the cowl back.

Plymouth Valiant

Partly, the Duster was an attempt to compete with other vehicles that were quickly taking up space and authority in the compact car segment – among them was the Ford Maverick, and the AMC Hornet – which were both introduced as 1970 models. In that same place we find the Chevy Nova, Volkswagen Beetle, and Chevrolet Vega.

With 2-doors and offering a variety of accessories and packages, the Valiant Duster was an almost-immediate success for Plymouth. Leading to updates ever year it was available – leading us up to 1976 – the year the “Feather Duster” model launched as a specialty model.

Plymouth Feather Duster

Featuring ultra-lightweight aluminum parts from the bumper brackets to the intake manifold, hood and trunk bracing – the Feather Duster included standard manual transmission housing saving the vehicle a total of 84.8 kg and 186 lb making it 5% lighter than the regular Feather Duster models. To its advantage, the Feather Duster models came with the 225 Slant Six as well as a low-restriction exhaust system with a fuel-efficiency rating that was the envy of its counterparts.

In this way, the Feather Duster is remembered relatively well – and many of the design decisions have, in one way or another, found themselves refined and applied to other vehicles in the Chrysler pantheon, especially the use of aluminum features to reduce weight without compromising the durability and integrity of the designs.

Further Reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plymouth_Duster

https://www.curbsideclassic.com/blog/car-show-classic/car-show-classic-a-light-weight-1976-plymouth-feather-duster/

https://www.automobilemag.com/features/collectible_classic/0908_1970_1976_plymouth_duster/

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