The January/February 2019 issue of Vintage Truck magazine will be available in subscriber mailboxes and on newsstands soon. Our cover story about a 1976 Plymouth Trail Duster was written by Robert Gabrick, with photos by Al Rogers.
In 1974, Jim Dunne, Detroit editor for Popular Science magazine, covered a new entry in the sport utility market:
“Plymouth will introduce the Trail Duster four-wheel-drive sport utility this month, making the first time a Plymouth nameplate has graced something other than a passenger sedan. The Trail Duster—code named ‘the Rhino’ during development—is patterned after the Chevy Blazer and offers full-time 4-wheel drive, a chassis adapted from the Dodge pickup, and a complete line of comfort options. The Trail Duster is a companion model to Dodge’s new Ramcharger. Except for trim items, the vehicles are identical. The addition of the two Chrysler products brings to 10 the number of models in the sport utility market. Each of the major manufacturers has an entry.”
Only 10 sport utility vehicles in the market? Remember those days?
The Trail Duster was the companion to Dodge’s Ramcharger. Writing in the July/August 1974 issue of Pickup, Van & 4WD magazine, Ken Kelley traced the development of the Ramcharger and, as a result, the Trail Duster, noting “As the unit of Chrysler Corp. with all truck product development responsibilities, Dodge Truck Operations (DTO) developed the Plymouth Trail Duster while it was working on the Ramcharger [and] long after development of the Ramcharger was begun.” Kelley argued the sport utility vehicle was an outgrowth of the post-World War II sale of Jeeps. Market researchers, he noted, were watching, and, according to Seymour Marshak, Chrysler’s director of market planning and research, there was a need for a “sportier, more luxurious vehicle with off-road capabilities,” rather than something merely “utilitarian and spartan.” Citing market studies, Kelley indicated buyers were “likely to be males, fairly affluent, just over 30, and to have two or more vehicles in the family.”
To read more about our featured 1976 Plymouth Trail Duster, pick up a copy of the January/February 2019 issue of Vintage Truck magazine!
Articles in this issue include:
Rapid Disappearance: A Brief History of the Rapid Motor Vehicle Co. By Anthony G. Buono
How Original?: Weylin Johnson’s 1976 Plymouth Trail Duster has only 18,800 miles on the odometer and is still wearing its original tires! By Robert Gabrick, Photos by Al Rogers
Up to Speed, Again! Ken Massender’s 1927 IH Model S-24 Speed Truck has come back from the dead, twice. By Candace Brown
Early Days of GE Automotive Lighting: An illuminating look at your headlights By Ralph Ehrhardt
Chevy Talk: 1968 Chevy C-10
For Ford Fans: Driving a 1968 Ford F-100 clear across Canada
Delivery Designs: 1965 Ford Econoline
The Road Less Traveled: Duntley Commercial Car and Little Giant Trucks
Hey Loren!: Q&A
Aid for the Anxious Amateur: Hydraulic Brake Line Basics
Granny Gear: Six O’Clock Rosies
Gallery: Photo courtesy Gene von Gunten