Welcome back to My Wheels, John. You blew us away the last time we saw you with your awesome 1963 Coupe DeVille (issue 597). Give us a little update on that fabulous Cadillac...
Thanks for having me back. I just installed front disc brakes and a new booster and master cylinder is going in next. I always wanted to improve the stopping power on it and hopefully this will do the trick.
You mentioned back then that you own a 1973 Duster and seeing it now sure is a sight for sore eyes! These are very rare — where did you find this awesome Plymouth Duster?
I picked it up from the US. For those that don’t know, the Duster was an economic, compact car that had a six-cylinders — but mine has the 340 cubic inch (5.5-litre) V8. These made up a small percentage of Dusters overall but it doesn’t stop there — it has the four-speed manual gearbox. Very few had that option, but then it becomes even more rare as it has factory high backed bucket seats which puts the production number at 1,204 units. What’s more, it has a Hurst T shifter and I read somewhere that just three cars left the factory with this gear stick — but there are a lot of aftermarket bits for Mopars so I’m not getting too excited about that! Still, it indeed is a pretty rare beast.
You’re not kidding! What was it like when you bought it?
It was pretty much as it is, but the factory stripes were missing, the lights didn’t work and it didn’t have a handbrake. I managed to sort these issues out and as for the stripes I’m lucky I have a graphic designer on my team who came up with the decals, including the little dust devil on the rear quarters. I might put a Hemi Dart style scoop on the bonnet and paint it matte black...
It’ll look even better if you do. What is it like to drive?
At normal low revs driving it is fine, it has power steering and power disc brakes on the front but you have to be careful — it can become a handful very quickly!
These were quick cars — does it have the original motor?
It isn’t the original one that came with the car from the factory, it’s actually from a ’71 Duster. It’s the same engine though — however this one has more power.
By ’73, Plymouth lowered the compression ratio to 10:1 and lost a lot of power from the earlier motor’s horsepower rating. This one has a bigger camshaft and an Edelbrock RPM Air Gap inlet manifold and matching 850 CFM carb. The seller in the US quoted just over 400 horses. The combination of the four-speed gearbox and the power lock 8 3/4 rear axle makes for a super quick ride.
That is plenty to smoke those rear tyres! Where do you drive this one most and how often does it get used?
I drive it a lot locally and to a few meets, but it is not the sort of car you want to go on a Sunday morning pleasure cruise or a picnic with your wife! In fact, my better half Carol has been in it once and that was on the way back from this photoshoot! It’s hot and loud — just like a muscle car should be.
It gets a fair amount of attention from the public, mostly from men, I don’t think girls ‘get’ it but muscle car fans sure do understand it. When I’m out in the Caddy every one looks and asks questions, but in this Duster it is mainly blokes that ask about it.
You’ve also got a Chevrolet C10 which is undergoing a full restoration and will be a drag strip champion. Tell us all about that one…
It’s pretty wild — in custom car speak it would be in the Pro Street category, that is to say that it has all of the characteristics of a drag race car but is street legal.
The front half of the truck is stock Chevy but from the back of the cab it’s all custom. It has a narrowed Chrysler 8 3/4 inch rear axle with 4:11 gearing supported on coilover springs and a race-style four link with a panhard rod for triangulation. Not sure how mad to go with it yet, but I may get very carried away. The Summit Racing catalogue is a permanent fixture on my desk.
And you have a 1969 Buick La Sabre Wildcat — give us a little insight into that convertible…
I found it in Texas, it has a 430 cubic inch V8 and is a beautifully big cruiser with a lot of muscle when you need it.
It has had two previous owners — the last one for 18 years; this gentleman was in his late sixties and very attached to the car, so much so that I just could not tell him that the car would be coming back to Dubai with me. My dad drives that one a lot when he is here.
We are going to have to do a My Wheels part 3 with those two in the future! Finally, are you any closer on getting your dream cars, a 1970 Roadrunner, 1932 Ford and 1940 Willys coupé Gasser? And if not them, any others that you have your eyes on?
There is a small problem with that, I keep promising Carol that I will get rid of some of my cars as she says that our house looks like a classic car lot! So I may have to let the Plymouth go before I get a replacement.
The Superbird will probably be the last one I buy as they are big money and as rare as hen’s teeth.
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