Man, you gotta love the Dodge Dart/Plymouth Valiant line. Well, the second coming of the line at least, right before the oil crisis turned it into a ghastly ectoplasmic fart of its former self. It kicked off in 1960, so it’s actually reasonably young compared to most of the other cars in the Chrysler line-up, though of course, it lasted a mere 19 years before being shelved for good. It had a bit of a wandering early years, first year being a slightly smaller yet still full size Dodge. The ’61 through late ’62 Dart saw its first true direction towards becoming the compact we know love today, with the ’63 Dart taking on the A-platform from there on ’til the day it got shelved.
All the while, Plymouth being Dodge’s “step-in” brand, which is business speak for “we need to have a cheaper, crappier cousin that is the same, yet different“, the Valiant sprung to live along every Dart, from 1960 all the way until 1976 and by 1967 and 1968, you could really tell where they were headed with the cars – a straight divide between more leisurely Dart/Valiant for the cruising type, compact and durable or the incredibly sporty and bare bones entry into the performance market. In 1970, they finally gave it the split like they had done with other models before like the Dodge Coronet/Super Bee and Plymouth Road Runner and allowed it to form its own little mark on history as the Plymouth Duster, kind of a blend between power and affordability that the late sixties’ cars were becoming known for, and the car performed so well in sales that Dodge demanded its own version in ’71, the appropriately named Demon. Allegedly built to compete with the Chevy Vega, Ford Maverick and AMC Hornet, hell it even was advertised to fight away a Volkswagen Beetle of all friggin’ things in LIFE Magazine in 1972!
And back in 1998, AMT Ertl produced a kit version of the ’71 Duster. Technically, the kit’s a 2-in-1 and has something I appreciate so much, words can’t quite describe it – engine options. Revell only ever does it with their convenient Chrysler 440 Magnum/426 HEMI engines cause the Magnum and HEMI rocker covers and intake manifold are so easily interchangeable but AMT’s got the only 1/25th scale 340 engine that has the crispness and quality of a Revell mold, and what did they do with it? They gave it the standard four barrel carb 340 as well as the Six Pack carb set up with the different air cleaner. What else makes it a 2-in-1? Well, the kit can be built like I did it, the 340 four barrel equipped Duster, or the 340-6 Duster Twister(with the twin ram-air intakes and the “twister” hood stripes) and they’re subtle enough to not require massive changes, yet they are truly two different cars.
The late nineties, AMT Ertl had a wizard working the tools cause the 1971 Dodge Charger(and the Super Bee variant I built a while back) and this kit are of supreme quality, the build quality is epic and the detail on the parts and body are of a level that I can only describe as “Revell-like”. And I know, I shouldn’t consistently hold up a bar to Revell and yell at the others to keep up, but Japanese and Chinese kit designers are literally cranking out kit after kit without much of a hassle and Revell is keeping up appearances with several new tools every year. AMT Ertl’s been skirting by on re-release after re-release but in that nineties era? They dared to make new stuff and it worked out wonderfully, even though they did re-release this particular kit eleven separate times since and with worse qualities about ’em like none of the 340 stripes in some and no stock wheels in others.
Speaking of the stripes, like I said it comes with all the things you’d need to make a 340 Wedge or a 340 Twister in both black and white, though sadly given the kit’s from 1998 the decals have gone milky as all shit. But y’know, I made due with ’em as the age only really shows through on the rear end of the car. Other than the decal issues, it is really a truly fantastic kit. It’s so well thought out, even the separate frame from the chassis where the engine sits on actually has the structural integrity to be able of holding onto the weight, unlike the ’71 Charger kit. The wheels actually sit on their supports and they actually stay in their tires! Holy shit, the wheels are good for a change!
Though it’s not all perfect, it may be just this release in particular but one giant niggle is that the headlight lenses that came with this kit do not fit the headlight bezels at all. Like, twice as big as they should be. I really do believe they may be from something like a ‘Cuda or something else with a single big headlamp. I chopped it down to the point it would at least fit within the grille, which is still 2 steps from even looking remotely good. But… screw it, like I said, I doubt it’s a problem for any other of the ten releases besides this one given the box art models and some built models I’ve spotted have correct headlamps at least.
The only semi-downside of the kit? Well, the interior is basic as sin yet nicely detailed. “What the holy mother of Hell does that mean?”, I hear you ask. Good question! Well, the dashboard is this weird mix of shapes and stuff that is meant to mimic the ’71 Duster’s dash but it doesn’t… look right. Yet on the other side of it all, the seats, doorpanels and everything else but the dials is of supreme quality! So it’s on this odd point of being super detailed, yet undetailed on the one part where it mattered.
But lemme get back to the engine for a moment, the 340 cubic inch V8 is glorious. Like I said, it’s one of the few if not only 340 cubic inch engines in 1/25th scale that is this detailed. The MPC engines from literally 1970/1971 are utter shit, no matter the excuse of time, given they haven’t updated the mold since those years… The ’71 Charger had a similarly detailed engine bay and this one is no different with all the reservoirs, wires and hoses present and accounted for. The only wires missing are the sparkplug wires and I just don’t find it fun anymore to wire up a engine these days so I do it only when I truly feel like it but, I really should’ve with this one. The whole thing is so supremely detailed, the wiring it up would’ve completed the picture.
All in all, it was a fun kit to put together. The “Yellow Green” RAL color spraypaint pops nicely in the sunlight and looks to be close enough to the Sassy Green hi-impact color and that matte black hood that goes over into the C-pillar, I love it. Easily one of the prettiest Plymouths that ever saw the light of day, right up there with the ‘Cuda. It’s a shame the Duster has just… popped out of existence after 1976.
’71 Plymouth Duster 340 specifications:
Skill Level: N/A
Molded in: Gray