Buying a car sight unseen online can have negative consequences sometimes. In most cases, unless you can look at the car yourself or arrange someone you trust to look at it, it truly is a buyer beware situation. We’ve lost count of how many times we’ve seen people buy cars sight unseen online and upon picking it up or it showing up at their house, realizing it’s the opposite of how it was described. Unfortunately for Mopar nut Jeremy MacDonald from Colorado, he knows this situation all too well.
Early in 2017, Jeremy decided to put his 1971 Plymouth Road Runner project car up for trade for a daily driver quality Plymouth Duster. While the Road Runner was very cool in its own right being B5 Blue with a 383 4-speed and an Air Grabber hood, Jeremy has always had a soft spot for Dusters; having owned a handful over the past ten years. Jeremy soon received a message from the owner of a flat black 1970 Duster in New York State that appeared to fit the bill perfectly. See, Jeremy had purchased his Road Runner project from a friend in New York but hadn’t brought it home to Colorado yet. Since both the Road Runner and the Duster were in the same State, Jeremy figured it would make the trade easy.
“The pictures looked good and the guy answered all of my questions so a deal was made. I had mentioned to the seller that the car needed to make the 2,200 mile drive back home to Colorado and he ensured me it wouldn’t be a problem so I trusted him. The Duster was dropped off at my friends place in New York and the Road Runner was picked up and gone,” says Jeremy. Fast forward to April 2017, Jeremy and his friend flew out to New York to drive the Duster back to Colorado. Once they arrived, Jeremy started looking the car over and realized he had been taken. “The pictures were misleading, the previous owner’s description was not accurate and the car was not safe to drive 50 miles, let alone 2,200!” Jeremy tells us.
Hoping for the best, Jeremy and his friend set off back to Colorado with the Duster. The trip didn’t last long though as the Duster broke down only a few miles from his friend’s place. Frustrated, Jeremy got the car towed back to his friend’s while he figured out what to do next. With the Duster back at his friend’s house, Jeremy dug into it further and found out that the car was an accident waiting to happen. He continues to say, “The wiring had bare spots that would rub and ground out causing the car to shut down. The rear frame rails were rusted out at the rear perches as well as all down the front frame rails on both sides. The driver side upper control arm mount was rusted as well and that’s just scratching the surface. I was told by the seller that the frame was very nice and he was sure to send me pictures of only the few nice spots; completely missing the rusted areas!”
That wasn’t all though. The Duster’s rear brakes were not fully assembled, the torsion bars did not have the clips holding them in properly and to make things even better, the front suspension kit Jeremy had sent the seller and paid him to install was not completely installed. The lower ball joints were wonky and the front end wouldn’t align due to him leaving stuff loose. According to Jeremy, there was more wrong with the car but it would require a very long article to describe everything!
While still out in New York, waiting to fly back home and being very discouraged about being screwed over on the Duster, Jeremy decided to surf Facebook. That’s when he came across a really solid 1971 EL5 Bahama Yellow Plymouth Duster Twister project car out in Wyoming. He says, “I knew I had to have it so a deal was struck before I even made it back to Colorado.” Jeremy tells us that while the 1971 looks very rough at first, it’s in fact very clean and nowhere near as bad as it looks. Having two Dusters that needed repair now, Jeremy came up with a plan; he would get both cars transported back home to Colorado and use the 1970 as a parts car for the 1971.
“Both cars arrived within two weeks of each other in June. I was more than surprised with how nice the Twister really was,” says Jeremy. The Twister is an original 318 automatic car and is actually pretty plain Jane as far as Twisters go. According to Jeremy, Duster Twisters were fairly low production and there’s not a lot left as usually people tend to rebuild 340 cars. “Basically the campaign of the Twister was to look like the 340 car, but have a Slant Six or a 318 to please the insurance companies. They were an all show; no-go sort of an affair.”
Since getting the Dusters home, Jeremy has been hard at work. He’s completely stripped the black Duster that he calls the “Ruster” down to a bare shell; stripping everything good off of it. He has affectionately named the Twister, “The Rotten Banana” and tells us that his plan is to leave it appearing ratty looking but have the complete opposite underneath; featuring a brand new drive train and suspension. “I am getting ready to install a temporary 360 and 727 automatic in it while I gather parts to build a 1970’s inspired 360 using as many NOS vintage high performance parts as possible.
“I rebuilt and installed an 8 3/4 with a 3.91 Sure Grip and have currently been working on the dash and steering column restoring those. After that, I will be focusing on installing the front suspension and then the engine and transmission. The goal is to have the car running and driving by mid-April and tearing up the mountain roads here in Colorado. I’m stiffening the suspension and installing a larger sway bar. I’m also looking at getting some QA1 upper control arms and strut rods. It should handle great.”
If you’d like to follow the build, check out Jeremy’s Instagram Build page: @ddom_rotten_banana.