Long before Jay Leno became an international celebrity, he was spinning wrenches at a local car dealership. While there, he crossed paths with Paul Annunziata, a brilliant mechanic with a penchant for Mopar muscle. While Leno was busy doing stand-up comedy and working his way toward network television, Annunziata was doing something really interesting: building a street-legal pro-stock drag car out of a 1975 Duster. After winning $10,000 in the lottery, he started with a body-in-white chassis before snapping up a 426 Hemi V8 from a Super Bee. Not satisfied with wedging an impossibly huge engine into the confines of the Duster's engine bay, Annunziata bolted on a massive Roots blower.

The rear of the body had to be tubbed to keep the tires under the factory sheetmetal, and the Duster also underwent extensive engine bay modification to house its new powerplant. Even so, everything on the machine is fully functional as it would have been from the factory.

Unfortunately, Annunziata was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Rather than sell his pride and joy, he offered it to Leno for free under the stipulation that he never sell the machine. Leno agreed, but only if he could actually pay Annunziata for his creation. The two compromised by setting up a scholarship for those who are interested in pursuing a four-year degree in auto mechanics or restoration. We call that a win on every front. Scroll down to see Leno take the 1,000 horsepower Duster out for a run.

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