The 340 muscle car status is verified by the H engine code in the fifth spot of the VIN. Lesser Duster engines are identified by engine codes B (198 Slant Six), C (225 Slant Six), and G (318 two-barrel V8). The large, rectangular taillamp openings were new for '72. Earlier Dusters featured an integrated horizontal divider bisecting the taillamps into an over/under configuration. The 340 muscle car status is verified by the H engine code in the fifth spot of the VIN. L We've got a spot in our hearts for the sleek lines of the semi-fastback Plymouth Duster. It was introduced in 1970 as an answer to the Ford Maverick and Chevy Nova, and it's easy to forget that Duster's unibody rides on a 108-inch wheelbase-a full 3 inches less than corporate cousin Dodge Dart's 111-inch chassis. Though shorter wheelbases tend to ride rougher, drag racers know Dusters deliver more traction than Darts. Thank you, short wheelbase! While most of the Dusters built during the model's six-year production run ('70-'76) were powered by frugal Slant Six or 318 two-barrel mills, Plymouth cranked out plenty of Duster 340s ('70-'73) and Duster 360s ('74-'76) for performance fanatics like us. Here's a sadly neglected '72 Duster 340 we found at Winkel Auto in Milford, New Hampshire. Of the 227,992 Dusters built in 1972, only 15,681 were 340 powered. That's about 1 in 15. Let's administer last rites, shall we? Groovy Factoids * The full-length 340 body side stripes were introduced in 1971. Duster 340s built in 1970 wear a comparatively invisible Duster 340 sticker on the front fender. * In the Sept. '71 issue of Car Craft, the report on Plymouth's high performance menu included this observation: "The biggest disappointment, if that's what you want to call it, in the Chrysler line is the discontinuation of the 426 Hemi as a readily available option. It will still be available (sold separately in a crate) as a special-purpose, through-a-dealer, off-road, high-buck, you-better-stand-in-line-if-you-want-it extra. How many engines will be produced and how hard it will be to get them is anybody's guess." This one was ordered with a column-shifted 727 TorqueFlite automatic (8,530 built), a $208 upgrade over the base A230 three-speed manual transmission (2,401 built). The only thing cooler would have been the $185 A833 four-speed stick (2,871 built). We checked, and this one's still sitting on its A-Body-specific 8 3/4 rearend. If you didn't know, A-Body 8 3/4 ass ends use specific 10x1.50 drum brake assemblies, specific axleshafts, and have small 5-on-4-inch bolt circles. Restorers go nuts for 'em these days. This one was ordered with a column-shifted 727 TorqueFlite automatic (8,530 built), a $208 Amazingly, the original 340 is still in place. In emissions-conscious 1972, the top dog 340 suffered a compression cut to 8.5:1 (down from 10.3 in 1971) and smaller 1.88 intake valves (down from 2.02 in 1971), reducing output from 275 to 240. On the upside, electronic ignition and an 800-cfm Carter Thermo-Quad (both still present) were added for '72 to restore some lost ground. We're digging the non-A/C and manual brakes and steering-power-sapping luxuries made unnecessary thanks to the Duster's low 3,175-pound curb weight. Amazingly, the original 340 is still in place. In emissions-conscious 1972, the top dog 34 Plymouth made sure the 340 Duster wasn't ignored. Look closely and you'll see the original, vinyl 340 sport stripe graphic beneath the primer. Also visible are hints of the original medium-blue metallic paint. For 1972, Plymouth adopted simplified, one-piece, rectangular, side-marker lamps that were shared with Satellites and Barracudas. Previous Dusters used more stylish flush-mounted lamps. The move helped maintain the Duster 340's low base price of $2,728. Plymouth made sure the 340 Duster wasn't ignored. Look closely and you'll see the original By Steve Magnante Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!