Midnight: Joseph Palka’s 1972 Plymouth Duster 340 Survivor

It was October of 1971 when 28-year-old Brian Clough of Comox, British Columbia walked into Courtenay Chrysler Plymouth in Courtenay, British Columbia to order himself a brand new 1972 Plymouth Duster. He shared, “It was honestly the only car that excited me that year. I didn’t want a full sized car and everything that Ford and Chevy was offering for that year was boring to me and I didn’t really like the Mopar E-Bodies. The Duster was a great looking car that still had real performance.”

When he sat down to order the car, he instantly checked the box for the 240 horsepower 340-4bbl V8. For options, he selected the A01 Light Package, A04 Basic Group, A21 Custom Exterior Package, A88 Interior Décor Group, Torqueflite automatic transmission, 3:23 geared Sure Grip 8 ¾ rear differential, power front disc brakes, dual chrome racing mirrors, power steering, tinted glass, rear window defogger and 14” Rallye wheels with E70x14 RWL belted tires.

When it came time to pick a color, Brian went with TX9 Formal Black paint with a matching black vinyl split bench seat interior. He opted for no vinyl top and then deleted the 340 stripes for a classy and simple exterior look.

After selecting the boxes for what he wanted, it brought the total for the new Duster 340 to $4,050. Brian’s new Duster was quickly built at the Hamtramck, Michigan factory and it arrived at Courtenay Chrysler on November 16th, 1971 with the addition of a small dent on the roof left by a loose chain on the transport trailer; something he wasn’t too happy with.

Brian explained, “I was an employee at Chrysler when I ordered the car and originally got it to be a daily driver however shortly after I ordered it, I got a job with Volkswagen which included the use of a company car so it was never actually used to daily driving purposes.”

Over the years, Brian would keep the car in his heated garage and would only drive it occasionally for personal use and to car shows. He told us, “It was never driven in the rain, snow or on a gravel road. I never even did a burnout with the car however I did take it up to its top speed quite a few times. My buddies and I had a lot of fun with it. I still remember we went down to Victoria for a party one night and put four beers in the driver side under dash vent and five in the passenger side to keep them cold until we got to the party”.

He continued to say, “When I got married, we used the Duster in the wedding and my best man decided it would be a good idea to throw a bag of confetti through the window. I found confetti inside the car for years. For the most part, it spent most of its life on Vancouver Island, only leaving the Island a few times to go down to Seattle with my then-wife.”

In October of 2018, with only 36,000 miles on the odometer and still wearing its original tires, Brian decided it was time to sell the Duster after 47 years of ownership along with a Model A Ford he got when he was 19. He explained to us that he was getting up there in age and didn’t have any children to leave them to so it was best to sell them to the next caretakers.

The Duster would leave Vancouver Island and head across the water to Delta, British Columbia where a fellow named Joe Medeiros would become the new caretaker. Joe would put around 2,000 miles on the car before selling it to Joseph Palka from New Jersey.

Joseph told us, “I’ve always loved A-Bodies and owned quite a few when I was younger. My first car was a 1966 Valiant that was my mom’s old grocery getter. I eventually bought a second 1966 Valiant that I painted Lime Green and modified to go as fast as it could. In college, I owned a plain Jane 1974 Duster for a few years before it got T-boned and written off. After that, I got my father’s 1975 Duster.”

Late last year, Joseph had sent his 1970 Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda (that we featured in March 2020) off to Speedo’s Paint and Body in Staatsburg, New York to begin a full concours restoration on. He found that he had an empty garage spot so decided to start hunting for a Duster to fill it.

After looking for a few months and finding mainly driver quality cars that he knew he would turn into a restoration project eventually, he posted a wanted ad online for a “Quality A-Body”. Joseph said, “I received a reply to my ad from Joe Medeiros saying that he had a Petty Blue 1972 Demon 340 he’d sell. I took a look at the pictures and although it was a very nice car, I saw details that bothered me enough that I knew I’d end up restoring the car.”

He continued to say, “I asked him if he had anything else and he told me he had a black 1972 Duster 340 survivor but he wouldn’t sell it. We kept in touch over the following months and finally in April of this year, he called me and said he’d sell it as he needed to make room for something else.”

After getting his friend Cody (this writer) to fully inspect the car on his behalf, Joseph and Joe agreed to a deal and the car made the cross country journey to New Jersey. Once it was home, Joseph went over the car in depth and was truly shocked on how much of a well-preserved survivor it truly was.

The Duster still wears 100% of its original paint which has been confirmed by numerous parties. It still has 100% of its original interior and under the hood; everything is original as it left the factory with the exception of minor service parts such as filters and spark plugs that were replaced with NOS service parts. The original water pump was taken off and rebuilt. The Duster still even has its original wiper blades and brakes!

Joseph shared, “What I thought was cool was the grease fittings are broken off. When they lubed these cars on the assembly line they broke the fittings off so the inspector knew that it was greased. When you went for your first dealer service, they removed the broken off fittings and installed new fittings. This obviously never happened.”

He continued, “I had the underside dry ice blasted to remove all of the grease and dirt built up from the 38,000 miles of driving. It safely revealed a beautifully clean undercarriage along with a lot of the factory inspection marks.”

Along with displaying it at various local car shows, Joseph had the Duster featured in the Survivor Tent at the 2023 Carlisle Chrysler Nationals and then registered it for Vintage Certification at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals (MCACN) where it got 3136.26 out of a possible 3541.11 points securing the “Legacy” level of vintage certification.

*Special thank you to the original owner Brian Clough for meeting up with us and sharing some cool stories and vintage pictures to add to the story!*

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57

Share this post

Cody Krueger

Car Feature Editor – cody.krueger@shawgroupmedia.com Since the age of 4, Cody has been obsessed with everything Mopar. On Christmas of 1998, Cody's parents gave him a rusty '69 Charger shell that his father saved from a field. Cody's garage still features that '69 Charger as well as the additions of a '71 Charger R/T, '71 Super Bee, '73 Duster, '08 Challenger SRT8 and a '13 Ram 3500. Cody can truly and proudly say that he is a true Mopar nut in love with all types of Mopars!

Your Cart is empty!

It looks like you haven't added any items to your cart yet.

Browse Products
Powered Voltage Emoji by Caddy