No Huffer For Puffer


Marital bliss starts with a stroked smallblock fuelie Duster.

By Jim Koscs Photos by Paul Stenquist

’70 340 Duster was discovered at the 2010 Mopar Nats by Margi, who thought it would be cool to start off married life with a Mopar.  The Plymouth has undergone considerable transformation since then, we don’t know if the same is true about Margi. Grille is an NOS replacement. Fiberglass cowl induction hood is a Stinger model. The company bought out AAR and their hoods are superior to what AAR used to make.

In June 2010, Wayne and Margi Puffer got engaged. Of course, they weren’t both Puffers then, just Wayne. What, you weren’t invited to the wedding? Well, too bad. So what did they do to celebrate their decision to tie the knot? They bought a Mopar, that’s what. And it was Margi’s idea. She thought it would be a good way for them to spend time together, going to car shows and cruise nights. Or maybe she just wanted to keep an eye on Wayne.

While they were at the Nats that year, Margi wandered off to look around. She brought some news back to Wayne. “I found a car,” she said. When she told him it was a 1970 Duster, he said, “No way!” about five times. That was on Wednesday. On Sunday, he handed the seller a cashier’s check.

And then the fun started. The Duster looked pretty good, as all car-show cars do, but then he found all the gaskets leaking throughout the 340, hidden problem areas in the body (in a Duster? Really?), and a mysterious knocking sound from the front suspension. “Knock knock.” “Who’s there?” “Bill.” “Bill who?” “A bill for two grand to rebuild the front end, including Hotchkis tubular A-arms.”

Front end relies on Hotchkis tubular A-arms while rear setup is Competition Engineering’s Slide-A-Link. QA1 shocks are attached to all four corners. Wayne passed on Cragars for Rocket Racing wheels period look. They’re 17” front and rear.

Some more cash went into converting the car to four-wheel discs, which Wayne said necessitated the only GM part on the car, a master cylinder from a Corvette. The Chevy-style cowl induction hood rubs some Mopurists the wrong way, but Mopar fans shouldn’t be rubbing against the car anyway.

Wayne and Margi drove the Duster for a while, but at the 2011 Nats, Wayne brought a long wish list for parts. Tops on his list was fuel injection.

Now, as any loyal reader of this magazine knows (and we define “loyal” as those who buy, rather than steal, the magazine), you can install fuel injection on a 340 for just $94 using a Leatherman tool if you follow E-booger’s easy 19-part installation guide. Or, you could do what Wayne did and buy a custom six-pack multiport fuelie setup for $4,500, made by F&B Throttle Bodies in Cardiff by The Sea, California. (The F&B website currently lists the price as $2,650. Sometimes it pays to wait until the early birds have bought in.)

With a street ’n strip 727 and 3.91 SG 8-3/4” rear, the Duster is good for “easy 11s” on the strip, to go along with “easy trophies” at shows.  Ne Go-wing replaced the one that went under a beating Florida sun.

“For that price, I could have had a blower,” he said. But Puffer didn’t want a huffer for the Duster. And $4,500 seemed like a fair price to pay for the sake of being different than all the other Duster owners who try to be different than all the other Duster owners.

The system adapts the FAST system using three CNC’d billet throttle bodies on an aftermarket manifold. The company’s engineer, Bruce Bridges, worked with Puffer’s chosen engine builder, Muscle Motors in Lansing, Mich. to dial in the package. Comp Cams made a custom-grind roller stick to specs provided by Bridges.

416 cube stroker cranks out a dyno-proven 540 horsepower. F&B Throttle Bodies supplied the FAST-controlled 6-pack multiport injection system. Muscle Motors dialed it all in for Wayne.

It really is a thing of beauty, and for shows, there’s a Plexiglas viewing plate that Bridges named the “Puffer Plate” after Wayne requested it be custom-made for him. Now anybody can have a Puffer Plate, although we’re not sure we can say that in a family-oriented magazine. The “plate,” more like a clear plexi box, fits over the throttle bodies to keep out chipmunks and squirrels looking to stash their nuts. So where is it in the photos? Well, out photographer just didn’t shoot it along with the photos he didn’t take of the Pentastar embroidered on the back seat and the nicely redone trunk. Use your imagination, you’ll get better results than looking at this magazine.

The bullet uses a steel four-inch stroker crank stroker with 416 cubes, 11:1 compression with forged flat-top piston on Eagle H-beam rods, a Milodon gear drive, deep sump oil pan and March pulleys. The Edelbrock RPM heads were reworked by Muscle Motors. The TTI ceramic-coated headers empty into a full exhaust system hand-bent by Jim “Hillbilly” Heath in Brookfield, Wis. Flowmaster 44s give it a pleasantly loud and deep tone. All of the MSD ignition hardware has been hidden for a clean look. The “Dustpan” name on the valve covers was the result of a friend jokingly calling the car a dustpan. Good thing he didn’t call it a Ford.

The fuelie system adapts to conditions. “If you punch it on a hot, humid day, it feels soft. Then, by the third time you punch it, it’s learned the conditions and adjusted,” Puffer explained. Then, just hold on tight, because the engine dyno’d at 540 HP, so it punches you back. The 416 connects to a fully worked 727 with full manual valve body and a B&M shifter, ultimately spinning 3.91 gears in a Sure Grip rear.

The Puffers’ Duster has knocked off “easy” mid 11s, but its main driving duties take it to local car shows. That’s the other side of the story. Puffer spent a lot of time rounding up original parts to fix up the body, including the NOS grille, taillights and Tuff steering wheel.

He took his car and all the parts over to Rich Weissman in Germantown, Wisconsin and had him assemble it. A Competition Engineering Slide-A-Link rear and big fat M&H Racemasters help it hook up. Puffer initially had planned to go with Cragars for the proper vintage look, but then saw Rocket Racing wheels and went with those. They’re 17 x 7 in front and 17 x 7 in back. There are QA1 6-way adjustable shocks all the way around.

Tuff wheel adds to the car’s tuff image, while Autometer dials, lights, sirens and chimes keep tabs on the Duster’s vital signs and performance level. Legendary was called on for the interior redo.

Neither of the Puffers liked the “grandma” interior. So while at the Nats, Margi wandered into the Legendary Interiors tent and picked out a few things. Amazingly, the dash pad is original and in excellent condition, and so are the door armrests and headliner. The painted dash face is full of new Autometer gauges. Those big Autometer lights on the dash? Yellow is the shift light, red means oil pressure has dropped and blue is coolant temp. If red and blue come on, you could be in for a bad day.

Dragich Auto Body in Germantown fixed the body and painted the car. All the sheetmetal except the driver’s door is original. That’s where a careless idiot drove a Trans Am into it. The rear wing is new, since the original Duster piece was damaged from heat when it was living in Florida. (You should see what happened to the owner’s body.)

The Puffers’ Duster has been scooping up lots of first-place show trophies through its cowl induction scoop. But that’s not the moral to this story. The lesson to be learned here is the old Chinese proverb (or fortune cookie saying): “Happy wife, happy life.”

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