Kit: No. 8437
Manufacturer: AMT/Ertl, P.O. Box 500, Dyersville, IA 52040-0500, phone 800-553-4886
Comments: Injection molded, 114 parts (4 vinyl), decals.
The news that AMT would be releasing an all-new kit of Plymouth's '71 Duster 340 was music to my ears. In the early 1970s, the 340 Duster was one of the quickest cars on the street - and on the dragstrip. It was lighter and less expensive than 'Cudas and Challengers and would give those big-block cars a run for their money.
After a close look, the kit appeared to have areas with good detail, and areas that needed some improvement. The chassis and suspension are crisply molded, and the interior is nicely detailed. The engine looks good overall, but several areas could have used more attention.
The air-conditioning compressor is hollowed out to clear the heater hoses. It has no brackets to support it, and it can't be removed without reworking the belts leading to the alternator, which also has no brackets. Although the two-piece carburetor is well detailed, my intake manifold had two sink marks. The battery is nicely detailed.
The separate master cylinder and wiper motor mount on the fire wall, but under-hood detail does not include molded-in wiring, hood hinges, or latch detail.
The body mounts on a two-piece chassis. The engine and front suspension mount up front; the rear section holds the separate leaf springs and a one-piece 83/4" axle. The kit features a nice six-piece exhaust system with chrome tips.
The raised lettering on the 15" Goodyear Polyglas GT tires is a little too raised, but more importantly, 15" wheels and tires were never used on A-Body cars like the Duster. They should be E70-14s.
To improve the wheels, I stripped off the chrome, sanded the rounded centers flat, and painted them with Testor Model Master non-buffing aluminum Metalizer. The centers should be a metallic medium gray, and the flat spot and the trim rings should be chrome silver.
The body's overall shape and dimensions appear to be correct, but the side-window shape is too rounded, and the corners should be more distinct. The tail panel has an incorrect raised trunk release; it's recessed on the full-size car.
The trim engraved around the windshield, rear window, drip rails, and wheel-well openings is sharp, and it looks good when covered with self-adhesive metal foil. The bulky-looking windshield wipers and door handles are molded on.
AMT provided a chrome grille, but I stripped off the chrome and painted it with Testor Model Master non-buffing steel Metalizer to replicate the "Argent Silver" paint used on the real car. I painted the turn signals white, then applied Micro Kristal-Kleer to simulate the lenses. The headlight lenses needed sanding before they would fit.
The subassemblies went together with only minor trimming and sanding. Ejector-pin marks are visible on the floor, but they could be filled or covered with carpet.
I sanded off the shallow Plymouth lettering on the hood; a decal is provided for the black-hood version. Although hood pins are shown on the box, they aren't provided in the kit.
I painted the car with Du Pont Hemi Orange lacquer and applied decals that I trimmed as closely as possible. This improves their appearance, especially where they fit around the taillights.
Fitting the body onto the chassis/ interior assembly was a problem - the interior side panels would not fit inside the doors. I removed the side windows and trimmed off their lower lip, then trimmed the dash to improve its fit to the side panels. Epoxy and clamps helped with the modifications.
I spent around 35 hours on my Duster; that's about average for me. Although I expected a much better kit, with a few modifications and some loaner parts, it will build into a model you'll be proud to have.
- Mike Dowd