Ford Bronco mania have you hankering for a cool vintage SUV from the days before “SUV” was even the term used to describe them? When they far more truck than wagon? When two doors was the norm?
We feel you. However, are you also a bit of a contrarian? Perhaps the greatest choice you could make, then, is a Plymouth Trailduster like this 1974 version in a very-1974 shade of orangey bronze. Or is that bronzey orange? Either way, it looks sensational with its contrasting white roof and lower trim, plus matching white interior. And yes, that roof comes off, but more on that in a moment.
The Trailduster was produced from 1974 to 1981, and was introduced at the same time as its Dodge Ramcharger sibling that would live to see a second generation. Both represented Chrysler’s answer to the Chevy K5 Blazer. The original SJ Jeep Cherokee was introduced for ’74 as well (remember, kids, Jeep wasn’t yet a Chrysler brand), but the Bronco wouldn’t transform into a comparably large, truck-based SUV until 1978.
Standard power came from Chrysler’s small-block 318 cu-in (5.2-liter) V8. A four-speed manual was standard, but this truck has a three-speed automatic. For 1974, four-wheel-drive was standard, but rear-drive-only arrived the following year. This truck has power steering and brakes (front discs), and air conditioning. The gas tank is also new and fuel system has been overhauled. The odometer shows 18,709, but as there are only five digits, it could also be 118,709 miles. It appears to be in excellent shape with only a few chips here and there, while the selling dealer provides a 28-point inspection.
Now, that roof. Since this is a first-year Trailduster, it’s an extra-special “full convertible” model. You see, when new, the Trailduster arrived at dealers without any roof at all. You could get a dealer-installed fabric roof or the optional removable steel roof you see here with a flip-up rear tailgate window. For 1974 only, however, there were convertible-style half-doors and what appears to be the continuation of the door frame is actually trim on the roof. You can clearly see it in the above photos. With the roof totally gone, it’ll look something like this. But, you know, a Plymouth. It looked like this from 1975 onward.
What a cool SUV. While any SUV from this era is sure to draw some eyes, it seems likely that you’ll draw a few extra by going with something rarer like a Trailduster. That it’s the full-convertible first-year model in a cool color combo is extra icing. Its asking price of $25,900 doesn’t seem that unreasonable given all that plus the prices K5 Blazers of a similar vintage have been going for.