Over the years, we’ve heard hundreds of stories of how Mopar enthusiasts found their cars and truly every story is different. Some are just by pure luck and others, well; we believe fate plays a big part! For Marcelo Laviano of New York, his story starts off on a sunny August morning back in 2019.
Marcelo and his then fiancé at the time were making their way into town to meet his parents for breakfast; a little family tradition that they started a few years back when Marcelo and his fiancé moved out into the country. He tells Mopar Connection, “My parents are habitually on time, but on this fateful morning, they happen to be running late. We decided to kill some time and drove to the north end of town. On our way back, I spotted a blue 1970 Plymouth Duster sitting out front of a repair shop with a for sale sign on it.”
He continues to say, “I said to my fiancé, ‘Turn around, I want to go look at it!’ She begrudgingly made a U-turn and we pulled into the parking lot. I hopped out of the car and saw the shiny blue paint sparkling in the morning light and proclaimed, ‘That’s mine!’ as I pointed at the Duster. She smirked and called me back to the car ‘Let’s go, babe, we’re running late.’”
At breakfast, Marcelo’s mind wondered as he was already picturing himself cruising down the road, with the sound of that lumpy V8 rumbling as his soundtrack. Marcelo shares, “My dad noticed that I was elsewhere in my mind, looked over at me and asked if I was enjoying my breakfast, to which I blurted out “I’m buying a car, want to go see it?” My dad always being down for checking out cars raised his hand and said, “Check please!”
One week later, Marcelo’s new Duster was home and the fun began. The Duster was driven on his wedding day and then over the winter, he started working on it and making some changes. He tells us, “It started off life as a Slant 6 car so I don’t feel bad customizing it to my liking.” It rolled off the assembly line painted B5 Blue with a blue vinyl split bench seat interior and a full white vinyl top. The options included the A01 Light Group, A21 Deluxe Trim Group, A88 Interior Décor Group, fender mounted turn signals and air conditioning.
On the exterior, he added a pair of hood scoops and tail panel stripes and the bumper guards were removed. He also decided to replace the stock grille with a brand new reproduction Sharkstooth grille from OER Parts. In 2018 before he purchased it, it was resprayed a fresh coat of B5 Blue by the previous owner, Chris at Chris’ Automotive in Carmel, New York. On the inside, the original blue interior has been changed to white. Overall, it remains the same as Marcelo purchased it except he changed out the aftermarket steering wheel with an OER Parts reproduction Rim Blow steering wheel along with adding a RetroSound head unit with custom kick panel speakers.
When he purchased the Duster, it was riding on a set of smoothie style chrome wheels. Those were taken off and replaced with a set of staggered Rallye wheels (15×7” out front and 15×8” out back) from Wheel Vintiques wrapped in Cooper Cobra GT tires (225/65R15 out front and 255/60/R15 out back).
While the Dynomax mufflers that came on the car sounded good with the TTI exhaust and headers, Marcelo wanted a bit more of a rumble so he replaced them with a pair of Flowmaster 40 series mufflers. Underneath, he installed a pair of XHD leaf springs from Mancini Racing along with 1” lowering blocks and then adjusted the torsion bars to get his desired stance. Braking is done with front discs and rear drums and the shocks are KYBs.
Under the hood, the original Slant 6 is long gone and replaced with a 408 stroker engine built by Precision Engine Rebuilders in Wentzville, MO. The stroker is based off a 360 small block that was bored .30 over. It features a COMP Cams solid flat tappet camshaft and OEM cylinder heads. On top sits an aluminum Edelbrock Performer intake and Edelbrock 600 CFM carburetor. Backing the stroker is a 727 Torqueflite automatic transmission upgraded with B&M TorkMaster 2000 torque converter and out back sits an 8 ¾ rear end with an Eaton 3.55 geared center section.
Marcelo says, “I worked on the Duster over last winter and was ready for the car show season to begin. However, the pandemic hit and everything got cancelled. Around July, things started to loosen up in my neck of the woods and cruise nights and car shows started happening. I was new to the car show scene here, but quickly started making friends. I started hitting up the weekly cruise nights and car shows and have even taken home a couple of trophies. The previous owner spent about 10 years building this car in his garage. He kept meticulous records and saved every single receipt. It’s obvious to me that a lot of love went into this build. Future plans include a 4 speed conversion and some aluminum cylinder heads. Otherwise, I’m just going to enjoy it!”