My Ride: Tualatin James Jeffery

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James Jeffery (left) with his Father, Jim.

Raspberry Red Duster brings back memories of working with Dad

My dad in the Duster in 1991.

My 1973 Plymouth Duster may not be a show car, but it holds a lot of special memories and seems to grab plenty of attention when it is out for a drive. 

This Raspberry Red Metallic car has been in the family since 1989. It was my Dad’s car, and I helped him do the initial restoration and modifications to it when I was 15. I bought it from him in 2005. 

This car brings back memories of working on it with my Dad. Every time I work on it, I’m reminded of something we did together 30 years ago. When I take it out for a drive, I remember being a 15 and 16-year-old kid sitting next to my Dad as he nails the throttle on the highway on-ramp and rows through the gears getting up to highway speed and getting sucked back into the seat as the car eats up the pavement.

The restored engine bay.

I currently work at So-Cal Speed Shop Northwest in Tualatin, and I have worked in the restoration and hot rod industry for the last 15 years.  

I have always been a “car person.” Matchbox and Hot Wheels were my life as a kid. My Dad helped channel that into the practical application of repairing and restoring cars. I was a jet engine mechanic in the Navy, and I went through Collision Repair and Refinishing classes at Clackamas Community College.

I have been working on the Duster since September of last year, when it was delivered from Michigan. I have completely replaced and rebuilt the fuel system, cooling system, and brake system. I removed every piece of the interior to thoroughly clean everything and replace the carpet, headliner, and package tray cover.

James greeting the Duster as it is delivered from Michigan in 2020.

I removed the windshield and dash so I could rebuild the heater box and repair the rusted-out section of the roof around the corners of the windshield. I have also replaced the tires, shocks and installed a front sway bar for better road control.

It is not a show car. It sat outside for about ten years before I could get it moved out to Oregon from Michigan. I have been working on getting it roadworthy and clean, so I can just go out and enjoy it. It seems to garner attention because one, you don’t see many Dusters running around, and two, the color and wheels draw people in.

If you’re doing a restoration, talk to someone who has done it before. Have a clear vision for your project before you start anything and make a plan. There is most definitely a sequence that needs to happen for a good restoration. Not knowing what type of build you want to do or what order it needs to happen in can not only cost you a lot of extra money, it can suck the fun out of it.  

I have seen many projects that have not been finished or sold because the owner has spent way more than they needed to or just burnt out on the process because it has become stressful instead of fun.  

Join a good car club with similar interests and cars that you have so you can get some ideas of what you want and how to get it done. Remember, this is a passion, and it’s supposed to be fun. Even when it’s hard, hot, and dirty, it needs to be fun.

The Duster as it appears today.