Chrysler may have been one of the last automakers to introduce an intermediate-bodied muscle car when they introduced the 1967 Belvedere GTX, but was the first automaker to fill the market niche for a low-price performance car with their mid-year 1968 Plymouth Road Runner.
The concept was simple: use a lightweight car that was inexpensive and fit it was a powerful engine. It was a simple concept, but was nothing new for the American public. What Plymouth did with their Road Runner was to create a muscle car for the public and cloth it in an attractive body.
The Road Runner used the Warner Bros. cartoon graphics on their car which made it easily identifiable. It was a no frills muscle car that was meant for the masses. Standard equipment included plain bench seats and rubber floor mats. The two-door bodystyle sold for $2,945 while the convertibles fetched $3,790. In 1969, Plymouth sold 217,216 examples of their Road Runners and only 2,128 were convertibles.
This Road Runner convertible is powered by a 383 cubic-inch engine with many options, including bucket seats, air grabber hood, am/fm radio, power steering, and an automatic transmission.
The Plymouth Road Runner was introduced in 1968 as a mid-priced performance car. Not only did it feature the Warner Brothers cartoon character's name and image decals, but the horn also went 'beep-beep!'
Named Car of the Year by Motor Trend Magazine for 1969, the Road Runners were built to be the fastest cars ever produced by Chrysler. While there were not many convenience options included, Road Runners had a long list of standard and optional performance features including a removable fiberglass hood. This Road Runner is powered by the 440 'Six Pack' - a 440 cubic-inch engine and triple two-barrel Holly carburetors, developing 390 horsepower!
This Road Runner remains with its original owner and has just over 3,500 original miles on it. Furthermore, it is accompanied by the original paper-work, dealer invoice, build sheet, special warranty book and window sticker and the original spare tire (a special-sized Goodyear tire that is not being reproduced) has never been on the ground.
The Plymouth RoadRunner was developed as a mid-priced car and was placed between the Satellie and Belvedere model line up. It was built on the B-body platform. The RoadRunner was light and featured few amenities. This not only drove the price of the vehicle into territory that most could afford, but it gave an advantage over heavier vehicles. The front and back seats were both bench. There was no radio, no air conditioning, no cruise control, no trim, and very few color options. Most of the options available favored speed and acceleration.
It was a solid car and a favorite among moonshiners. It was faster than most police vehicles and due to its sturdy construction, was very reliable.
The RoadRunner came equipped with a 383 cubic-inch V8 engine capable of producing 335 horsepower. A four-speed manual transmission was standard equipment. For about $715 dollars, a 426 Hemi could be added making it the fastest vehicle on the road.
Plymouth paid Warner Brothers $50,000 to use the Road Runner cartoon image. Due to short production time, the decals were grey. Along with the image, the horn went 'beep-beep'.
In 1968, Plymouth sold 45,000 examples.
In 1969, bucket seats became available. The decals were now in color. A convertible option joined the line-up. An inexpensive engine, when compared to the Hemi, became available. This was a three-two barrel carbureted, 440 cubic-inch V8, dubbed the 440 Six Pack. Nearly 90,000 RoadRunners were sold during 1969.
In 1970, an Air Grabber hood was added. Operated by remote control from the passenger compartment, this would open and close a vent in the hood, creating a hood scope. The three-speed manual gearbox became standard while the 4-speed was now offered as optional equipment.
Due to increasing government safety regulations and emission controls, the engines began to decrease in size during the 1971 model year. Fuel prices and insurance costs also contributed to the demise of the horsepower. The four-barrel 440 cubic-inch engine was no longer offered. The horsepower ratings for all engines decreased. The wheelbase of the vehicle decreased from 116 inches to 115. The convertible was no longer offered. A little over 14,000 examples were sold in 1971.
In 1972, the 440 and the Hemi were no longer offered. A 340 cubic-inch V8 engine was now available. This engine was powerful and light. Less than 7,630 Road Runners were sold during the 1972 model year.
In 1973, a 318 cubic-inch engine was standard, producing 170 horsepower. The 440 and 400 cubic-inch engines were still offered as optional equipment. The vehicle received styling updates.
In 1974, the 360 cubic-inch engine replaced the 340 V8. The 318, two-barrel engine now produced a miserable 150 horsepower.
In 1975, the RoadRunner was changed to the Fury body.
In 1976, the RoadRunner was changed to the Volare body. The standard engine was the 318 cubic-inch engine offering 150 horsepower. The 360 cubic-inch engine produced 170 horsepower. The RoadRunner package included a three-speed floor shifter, interior trim, and an improved suspension.
In 1977, an on-board engine computer, called the Lean Burn system, adorned the interior of the RoadRunner. Spoilers, stripes, and Ralley wheels, and window louvers became part of the RoadRunner package.
In 1979, production was just over 1000 units.
The 1980 model year was the last one for the Volare and Road Runner. By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2010
There were 1,880 examples of the 1969 Plymouth Road Runner 383-4 Barrel Convertible built for the United States. 769 of those were 4-speeds and 1,111 were automatics. Canadian and Export figures are unknown.
This vehicle is number 3 in sequence of 1969 383-4BBL Plymouth Road Runner convertibles registered in the Chrysler Registry. It was built at the St. Louis, MO plant, and ordered for export. It is also 1 of 1 B3-Export, and 1 of 1 Auto and A/C-Export.
The 1969 383-4BBL Plymouth Road Runner Convertible's were only built at the St. Louis, MO assembly plant.
This 1969 Road Runner was ordered with the W23 (Recall Wheel) option. The Kelsey Hayes wheels were cast aluminum and slated to be released as optional wheels (coded as W23) on 1969 Chrysler Corporation vehicles. The wheels were recalled very early in the model year on September 13, 1968, due to a design defect which caused the lug nuts to work loose, resulting in the centers pulling out.
Quite a few of the wheels actually made it into the hands of Mopar-buying customers, and obviously many of them were not returned during the recall by their owners. The Kelsey Hayes Company also offered this same wheel later as an after-market item, with the only difference being that the rim was chromed on the after markets. Is it possible that the after markets were the same wheel that were returned under the recall and then doctored to look a little different?
The wheel with the flat center was found on a 1969 Plymouth Road Runner. The wheel with the cone-shaped center was found on a 1969 Dodge Coronet.
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