From the states to England and back
I purchased this Duster in 1974 when I was stationed in England. The original owner Stan Franklin bought it from Glenwood Motors in Riverside, California on December 26, 1972. He had it shipped overseas in mid 1973 to RAF Upper Hayford, England, where I purchased it a year later with only 7500 miles on it. I shipped it back to the states in March 1977. I drove it until the mid-eighties when it hit 100k. It was taken off the road and placed in storage. In July 2014, I decided it was time to breathe life back into it, before I got too much older to restore it. I rebuilt the carb, replaced the fuel tank, and also got a fresh battery. It fired up (with very little blue smoke) after 28 years of silence. It was driven for a few months until the disassembly began that November.
I was fortunate to have found this local gentleman Cliff Shanty (77 years young at the time) who agreed to undertake my project and restore the body. Cliff was featured in an article by Hemmings Classic Car, December 2016 issue, where he restored/reconstructed a 34 Ford Cabriolet just prior to mine. https://www.hemmings.com/magazine/hcc/2016/12/Labor-of-Love---1934-Ford-Cabriolet/3750304.html
When he overhauled the sheetmetal on my Duster, everything found bad was painstakingly replaced, rebuilt, repaired, and/or fabricated; a true craftsman. Cliff had been in the body shop business for over 45 years. He managed a body shop at a Plymouth dealership in the sixties and seventies before starting his own business. Now retired, it’s only a hobby. This Duster was his last full restoration. His knowledge of where the factory made oversights on their body seam sealant, helped him identify the most weakest areas. He is very "old school"; he leaded all the sheet metal factory seams and seam sealed all other areas as needed, and used absolutely no plastic filler. All of the sheet metal panels, such as the inner fenders, one door skin, both quarter panels, the LH outer wheel house, and trunk extensions, came from AMD. I was able to locate two fenders from a 72 Valiant in Oregon, which were in excellent condition. Only slight modifications were necessary to make them work for a 73. The quarter panels on the other hand had to be stretched a bit to fit properly, but for a fine craftsman it wasn’t too difficult. The front floor panel work was replaced with fabricated panels (perfect duplications), as well as the right rear floor area near seat mount. Surprisingly, the only frame issues were the rear extensions and one floor support that he fabricated. I picked it up six months later with everything complete and done perfectly. I was very lucky to have found this auto-body expert!
The interior is original except I replaced the carpet (OC Auto Carpets) due fade and slight wear. The vehicle was garaged the entire time I've owned it, which saved the interior. Even the dash pad is in perfect condition.
Front bumper was re-chromed at Sandy’s, Syracuse, NY, rear bumper new from AMD, dual exhaust from Accurate, rear springs from Summit, A/C lines rebuilt from Classic Auto Air, Thermoquad overhauled by National Carb, and a new torque converter built by Winners Choice Transmissions. Stainless steel fuel, transmission, and brake lines from Inline Tube. New radiator from U.S. Radiators. All the suppliers were terrific to work with.
The car came with a 318 (pulled and placed into storage), I had for 26 years under my bench a 340 block and heads with matching 2.02 heads out of a ‘70 Cuda. Had the block bored 40 over and installed a mild cam and stock manifolds. This is a motor that needed everything to complete the build. It was a long and expensive road, but worth every penny. When it fired up, it made me feel that I hadn't lost my touch, not bad for an old aircraft mechanic. I finally completed the entire project in September 2016.
Two years isn't too bad for an on-frame restoration.