Vice Grip Garage's "Frankenstein" 1973 Duster


"It's not perfect, and that's great. That's the whole point! You can slide this around in gravel, you can park it at Walmart and get dings, you can go enjoy some backroads. The kids can eat ice cream in it," said Derek Bieri of Vice Grip Garage. We can appreciate this sentiment, since keeping a classic car in flawless showroom condition is always a challenge, and accepting a car's small imperfections can make the day-to-day driving experience more relaxing. In a recent series of videos, Bieri shows how he saved this 1973 Duster from rusting away in a field, and rebuilt it with some parts from Classic Industries.

The 1973 Duster Project


Bieri purchased this '73 Duster several years ago and parked it in a field, waiting for the right time to get started on restoring it. The car's old slant-6 engine ran "okayish" but had some problems and certainly didn't produce muscle-car levels of power. In order to solve that problem, he swapped in a 485-horsepower 351ci stroker V8 based on a built Chrysler 318.


This 318 engine was purchased for just $200, then disassembled, cleaned, honed, and bored .030 over. A stroker crank with Dodge Viper rods and inexpensive pistons were installed, along with cheap aluminum heads that accepted a Chevrolet LS valvetrain — hence the "LS 318" nickname. It's a pretty cool way to make a whole lot more power without breaking the bank!


The exterior of the Duster was also cleaned up, making the most of the stock paint with a thorough scrubbing and a fresh clearcoat. The Vice Grip Garage team also painted the hood satin black, and added black side stripes and 318 LS graphics to each rear quarter panel.


This car's original grille was cracked, missing a mounting tab, and the paint was flaking away, giving the car's front end an unsightly look. Bieri picked up a new original-style reproduction grille from Classic Industries, and it really transformed the whole front end.

Inside the Duster, the gold interior had seen better days, and the original door panels were discolored and stained. Bieri converted the car over to a black interior with nicer Deluxe door panels from Classic Industries. These feature woodgrain accents and chrome trim:


The dash was also fully rebuilt with new illuminated gauges and a Grant steering wheel. This helps the car feel a bit more modern while retaining that classic 1970s style.


The end result of the Vice Grip Garage '73 Duster project is a very cool muscle car for anyone on a budget. Topped off with a set of chrome Cragar S/S wheels, this old Plymouth has a new lease on life. Better yet, Vice Grip Garage will be giving it away to a lucky follower in the future, so we'll look forward to seeing that happen.


In the meantime, check out the VGG videos below to see more of this Duster's transformation:


Looking for Dodge & Plymouth Restoration Parts?


No matter if you're working on a pristine show car or a cheap fixer-upper project, Classic Industries representatives will be glad to help you find the parts you need to keep your Mopar classic car looking good and running strong. Click the button below to get a free full-color Dodge & Plymouth restoration parts catalog.