Cale’s Killer NASCAR-Inspired Plymouth Duster Is Hiding Something

Cale’s Killer NASCAR-Inspired Plymouth Duster Is Hiding Something

Ah, to be young. To be a reckless dreamer, determined, undeterred by life’s many challenges, and unencumbered by its innumerable adult responsibilities that pile up like old laundry. People gravitate toward it, clamor even because it is such a fleeting time in the lifecycle of man. To behold those that endeavor to do something exceptional with it oft leaves the outside world awe-struck. If only because so few understand what it is or are simply unwilling to risk the only resource of value we truly have – that time when you’re young and free.

With tons of attitude, plenty of patina, NASCAR style, and an LS under the hood, Cale’s Plymouth Duster sure breaks a lot of necks and even more hearts.

Cale Majchrowski is one of those special individuals. The 18-year-old engineering student really impressed us at Holley’s MoParty in 2021 by bringing his awesome NASCAR-Inspired 1972 Plymouth Duster. Unfortunately, with so much going on at the show, we were unable to catch up with him for a full feature. Luckily, he was in attendance for Holley’s festivities at Beech Bend for MoParty 2022. This time, we made sure to interview him about his car. In only a year’s time, he’s made some serious upgrades. So, without further ado, we offer you the full interview, complete with a photo gallery. Scroll on!

The Interview

SM: Cale, please, go ahead and introduce yourself.

CM: I’m Cale Majchrowski; I build muscle cars and go to events and stuff. I’m currently a tech student up in Ohio right now. I’m doing a chassis and fabrication program up there. Over the last few years, my life has been consumed by my 1972 Plymouth Duster. I put a 5.3 LS and a T5 five-speed in it, and you can tell by the hood what I’ve done (325ci callout).

You talkin’ to me? Yeah, Cale. Tell us more about that killer car!

This thing is currently my only running and driving vehicle, so it is my daily driver – minus the winter. Up here in the midwest, the salt is pretty rough, and after all the work I’ve put into it, I don’t feel like driving it on the salt.

SM: How long did the build take, and what shape was the car in when you got it?

CM: When I was 15, less than two and a half years ago now, me and my dad drove down to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and picked up the Duster. It was halfway in the ground. There was sand all the way up to the rockers. There was sand coming out of the frame rails and everything. We drove from Chicago to New Mexico and back in under 72 hours – we had a really tight window.
Once we picked it up, we tore it apart and started from there. I was told it was a rust-free car being from the Southwest, but we all know how that goes. So, the first thing we did was put a whole new one-piece floorpan in along with a new trunk floor, and then we rebuilt the slant-six – not the original. I had to get another one. After that, I just drove it around. I cleaned up the suspension, sandblasted some parts, painted it, and got it running and driving. I actually did drive it daily at that time, even in the winter, when it was in a rougher shape. I think I put like 12,000 miles on it in the first year that it was running and driving with that little slant six.

He may be named after Cale Yarborough, but his favorite is Dale Jr. Dig that front license plate.

SM: Let’s talk more about that interior and the floor pan you had to replace.

CM: Sure. Well, we put a whole new one-piece AMD floor pan in. Basically, from the rear seam up to the firewall had to be replaced. That was the first real fab project I ever did. It’s got a whole new tunnel in it that I had to make for the five-speed. So I had to cut up my brand new floor pan to put the five-speed.

Cale hand-painted the 225ci callout for the slant-six the Duster once had. Then he painted over the two with a three to denote the mighty 325ci LS it now has.

Going through the rest of the interior is pretty basic. I like the simple kind of stock car feel it gives to it. I’d like to have a four-point cage in it one day – I think that’s the only thing it’s missing. Oh yeah, I went through and rewired the entire dash and made a whole new harness for it to tidy things up as well. Pretty much what you see is what’s going on.

SM: We love the no-frills approach you took. Tell us more about some of the accessories like the griptape floor, welded cup holders, and fire extinguisher.

CM: Well, ya gotta have a fire extinguisher, but those cup holders are actually excess exhaust pipe from my dad’s Camaro. That’s like one of the coolest things I’ve done to the car. I think I did that when I was 16, and I thought it was so cool.

Some might call this interior “Spartan.”

SM: Hey, what are these earmuffs for?

CM: Well, I’ve got these on the side (points to exhaust), and going down the highway, it gets pretty rowdy, so I usually just toss my earbuds in and my earmuffs over those; that way, I can listen to music on long trips. When I had the slant-six in here, I couldn’t go above like 70, but with the 5.3 and this transmission, I’m cruising at 80-85 mph and 2,200 RPM.

SM: Yeah, tell us more about that drivetrain.

Uh-oh. This will be sure to ruffle a few feathers.

CM: Well, that transmission is a T5 five-speed out of a ’93 Firebird. It’s the budget-friendly version of the T-56. It’s also the “World Class,” so, to my knowledge, it’s stronger, and I’m surprised it’s held up this long.

SM: So have you had this thing on the dyno yet?

The word “shoehorned” comes to mind.

CM: No, but I have a buddy who built a similar setup, and he made 450hp on the engine dyno at the crank. I’m hoping for about 300hp to the tire.

SM: Okay, Let’s talk about the swap and everything you had to do to get it in the car.

“This unit runs on freedom, bald eagle piss, and Motley Crue.”

CM: Originally, the plan was to do an LS swap in it as quickly as possible, and that’s evolved into rebuilding the entire car, essentially. But, while I was daily driving the car with the slant-six, I had time to save up and build the LS. So, it’s a stock bottom-end 5.3-liter. It had like 90,000 miles on it when I got it for 300-bucks. I put a sloppy stage-2 cam in it, and it’s still got the 862 heads. I kept it simple with an eBay sheet-metal intake and bigger throttle body, swapped out the coils, and threw in some bigger injectors. The tricky part was actually fitting it in here. You’d think you’d have a lot of extra space with the engine being a “small-block,” but no. I had to make my own back-half of the K-member and my own engine mounts because, obviously, no one makes anything for this swap. One of the trickiest challenges was finding manifolds that would fit because I was limited on space – so no headers would work. The ones on the engine are actually S10 LS-swap manifolds.

One thing Cale had to do to make the manifolds work was shaved down the head of a couple of bolts on the car’s manual steering box. Another thing was to cut and box the Duster’s K-member because of the way the car’s factory rear-steer system works. He mentioned a desire for a rack and pinion steering in the future, but for now, he got around it by using a front-sump oil pan from an ’06 Pontiac GTO. Luckily, he didn’t have to massage the shock towers or anything, so it’s all original sheet metal under the hood.

Speaking of sheet metal, there’s a lot going on with the exterior of the car. We’ll let Cale tell it.

NASCAR Inspiration

SM: One of the things we love about your car is the nod to vintage NASCAR. What can you tell us about some of the design elements you’ve incorporated?

CM: Originally, the car was a 225 cubic-inch slant-six. So a couple of years ago, I hand-painted the displacement on the hood. Now that it’s a 5.3, I changed the number 2 to a 3, so it says 325 with the LS. I also have a bunch of period-correct ’70s NASCAR decals on the fenders. The turn signal markers are also deleted with metal plates for “aero.” I think it looks pretty cool. We’ve also got a set of Bassett wheels on it that are pretty basic, but I went ahead and painted the lug nuts yellow and added the rifle/sniper stripe on there as well.

SM: So, what are you running for brakes on this thing?

CM: In the front, I went with a disc kit from Pirate Jack Brakes. It actually uses an E-body spindle and E-body brake kit that adapts. Those are connected to QA1 upper arms and adjustable strut rods. So, this thing handles pretty much mint. As far as steering goes, I’ve got a quick-ratio 14:1 steering box, but it’s still manual steering. It’s got a pretty low center of gravity, and it doesn’t weigh much, so it’s pretty fun to swing it around corners and dump the clutch.

SM: Ok, so what’s the deal with number 11?

CM: Well, I’m named after Cale Yarborough, a NASCAR driver from the ’70s and ’80s, and his number was 11. I also happen to be born on the eleventh, so that’s why we put the 11 on. Just under there, you can see the legit boom tubes. I just have manifolds on the engine for fitment purposes, and I built my own 2.5-inch stainless x-pipe that shoots right out to these boom tubes on the side.

SM: So, we see CAM Racing all over the car. What’s going on with that?

CM: When I was in 7th grade, I used the old AMC logo and turned it around, and made it into CAM Racing. Those are my initials, and there’s an old picture of me sitting on one of my dad’s old dirt track cars, and he painted it on the fender, so I always liked it. Hopefully, I’ll name my shop that someday.

Not Built For Your Approval

Well, there you have it, folks. From the faux rear window bracing to the “disco sucks” bumper sticker, the LS swap, minimalist interior, and numerous classic NASCAR touches, Cale has created one heck of a Duster, and all at the age of 18. Whether you love it or hate it, and we know there will be plenty of you who do, you’ve got to give the kid some credit. His shift knob is engraved with GF/DD (Go Fast – Don’t Die), for God’s sake. He’s a dyed-in-the-wool car guy. In fact, go over to his YouTube channel right now and subscribe because he’s cranking out all sorts of automotive content. His next project is a 1970 Dodge Charger he rescued from the scrap pile.

“Not Built For Your Approval.” “Dan Gurney For President.” “Disco sucks. Long Live rock.”

Until next time…

About the author

Vinny Costa

Fast cars, motorcycles, and loud music are what get Vinny’s blood pumping. Catch him behind the wheel of his ’68 Firebird. Chances are, Black Sabbath will be playing in the background.
Read My Articles

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