'71 Plymouth Duster Runs LS, Hemi, and Coyote Engines for Holley Fests

01/11/2024

'71 Plymouth Duster Runs LS, Hemi, and Coyote Engines for Holley Fests

01/11/2024

Jared Pink of “The Questionable Garage” achieved the unique feat of participating in all three of Holley’s premiere Bowling Green, Kentucky events for 2023 using the same vehicle. His 1971 Plymouth Duster became a canvas of automotive versatility; it underwent three distinct engine swaps to meet each event's unique requirements, showcasing unprecedented adaptability and mechanical mastery.


The rules for Holley LS Fest, MoParty, and Ford Fest are simple. You must be powered by that make; the vehicle itself doesn’t matter. We’ve seen LS-swapped Go Karts, Ford-powered Camaros, and Hemi-swapped beaters. Only the engine must match the event. But meeting that requirement in one season with one vehicle is a daunting proposition. The three events are held in rapid succession, with LS Fest and MoParty separated by less than a week. To pull off the challenging engine swaps required would take ingenuity, determination, and some serious wrenching skills. But Pink has those traits in spades, and he rose to the challenge without hesitation.

Using the same vehicle to participate in all three of Holley's Bowling Green, Kentucky events takes serious determination and skill. The events are just days apart, and each requires a different engine to be eligible. Jared Pink is the first to have accomplished this feat, using a '71 Plymouth Duster that's powered by an LS, Gen III Hemi, or Coyote engine depending on the occasion.


The simpler, albeit boring, idea would have been to start with a runner. Instead, Pink used a '71 Plymouth Duster that hadn’t been roadworthy in several decades. But on the plus side, it was free – a gift from his friend Tyler Hull. “Last week at LS Fest, when I crossed the traps at 114 mph, the car was shaking a little bit,” says Pink. “It hasn’t driven since 1979. The fenders were slapping in the wind, and I was thinking, ‘This was literally rotting in a tree row, and now I’m running 114 mph in it.’ That’s a whole lot of fun.”


And, as scruffy as the car currently looks, it’s still vastly improved from the free abandoned hulk that Pink started with. “It didn’t have a hood or trunk, so I had to track down an even worse rotted duster to get those to put on the floor pan,” he says. “Then I put in a whole brand-new floor from Auto Metal Direct in it. And then I also went through and fit the entire US Car Tool Level Three chassis stiffening kit, which for the unibody gives us this whole new core support triangulation everywhere. We also did spring in-boarding so we can fit bigger tires. We mini-tubed it too.”

As if running one vehicle in all three of Holley's biggest Fests in one year wasn't a tough enough challenge, Jared Pink started this quest with a car that wasn't exactly a stellar project candidate. “It hasn’t driven since 1979," he says. "This was literally rotting in a tree row, and now I’m running 114 mph in it."


Pink partnered with Holley, QA1, American Powertrain, and Baer Brakes to make the trio of engine swaps possible. J&J Auto Wrecking in Marshallville, Ohio, helped him with two loaners, a third engine staying in the Plymouth for future events.


At LS Fest, the Duster was powered by an LS3 engine. Then, with less than a week between LS Fest and MoParty, Pink dropped in a Gen III Hemi, embodying the spirit of Mopar with a motor that proved to be packing more than he expected. “We discovered it’s a stroker engine,” laughed Jared. “It had a 7-liter stroker crank in it at the junkyard. That was the biggest lottery win ever.”


A Ford Coyote swap for Ford Fest was the final challenge. Although there was a whole 10 days between MoParty and Ford Fest, this last of the three swaps was physically the largest engine of the bunch, and it was the most challenging. Making things even more hectic, Pink also used those few days of extra time before Ford Fest to upgrade the rear suspension to a QA1 4-link.


See Holley’s complete line of engine swap systems for Gen III Hemi, Ford Coyote, and GM LS

To make the three swaps feasible in such short timespans, Pink worked out all the details in advance, so the process was as simple and efficient as possible. At the core of it was the driveline, which he chose carefully to facilitate bolting up the three different engines. He started with a Ford-style Tremec TKX 5-speed manual transmission from American Powertrain, along with three unique QuickTime bellhousings, three flywheels, and custom pilot bushings. “The goal was to make it modular and not have to get three driveshafts,” says Pink. “The transmission basically never moves. Only everything in front of it comes in and out.”


The QA1 Level 3 front-end kit utilizes Mustang-II style front suspension, making suspension and brake parts easy to source and set up. Plus, it makes for more under-hood room. The brakes are 6-piston calipers from Baer in a Bumble-Gum Pink finish – a clever nod to his last name. The rear end is a Detroit Speed GearFX unit similar to what you’d find in a NASCAR stock car. “It’s as overbuilt as can be,” says Pink. “We’ve also got a Detroit Speed Corvette full-floater kit on it as well, to eliminate any potential brake pad knockback.”

Although Jared Pink's Duster looks pretty much like it did when it was found rotting away under a tree, a lot of work went into it beneath the skin to prepare for the rigors of autocross and drag competition. The entire floor was replaced and then a chassis stiffening kit was added. To that foundation, a Detroit Speed GearFX rear end and QA1 4-link suspension were fitted.


Holley’s Terminator X Max EFI system was significant in making the Duster swap friendly. “We got the Hemi installed and running in two days. The Terminator X has been fantastic. It’s two wires, two connectors. We unplug, we plug it back in,” says Pink. “I do the wizard on the handheld, and I race literally just on the Holley base map. The only change to the base map is that I make the cooling fans come on sooner. Otherwise, I just enter in the injector part number, the MAP sensor part number, the wideband sensor, and the engine displacement – that’s it.”


It wasn’t easy becoming the first to participate in all three of Holley’s premiere Bowling Green, Kentucky events in one year using the same car. But the results were clearly worth it. Beyond the sheer accomplishment and accompanying bragging rights, Pink’s shabby cool Duster has proven to be a champion in the entertainment department. “I love this car. It’s a lot of fun,” says Pink. “Someone asked me when I was shifting at the drag strip. I said, ‘when the spirit moves me.’”


See Holley’s complete line of engine swap systems for Gen III Hemi, Ford Coyote, and GM LS

The Details

Engines: GM LS3, 7-liter stroked Gen III Hemi, Ford Coyote

EFI Management: Holley Terminator X Max

Drivetrain: Tremec TKX transmission, American Powertrain conversion shifter, QuickTime bellhousings

Suspension and Steering: QA1 Level 3 kit with K-member, power rack-and-pinion steering

Brakes: Baer 6-piston calipers with Raybestos pads

Differential and Suspension: Detroit Speed GearFX rear differential, Detroit Speed Corvette full floater kit, Lakewood traction bars, QA1 4-link

Fuel System: Sniper EFI kit including fuel cell

Steering Column: Modified 1973 Plymouth Duster

Chassis and Body: US Car Tool Level 3 chassis stiffening kit, spring inboarding, and mini-tubbing

Interior: Not much


See Holley’s complete line of engine swap systems for Gen III Hemi, Ford Coyote, and GM LS

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