Acme Hot Rod: 1969 Plymouth Road Runner

  • November 24, 2020
Why We Like It

One of the least expensive muscle cars of the era turned into one of the most desirable, thanks to the majority of them being lost to the sands of time, and this one seems like a sweet find that avoided that fate. Powered by a 383 CI V8 with a 3-speed automatic transmission controlled by a standard issue column shifter, the pictures show what appears to be the dual-quad air cleaner element, yet stops short at actually showing the twin carburetor set up. Pictures illustrate the Air Grabber intake system, which is cool too, but we’d still love to see the eight barrels, if it’s actually so equipped. By the pictures, the car looks fantastic, a white convertible top that appears to be in good shape that matches the finish on the angular body, and no obvious blemishes anywhere. Inside, passengers will love the late ’60s feel of the standard blue interior with four sets of seat belts and a bench front seat. Plymouth truly was the entry level of entry levels when it wanted to be, but the Road Runner was an interesting call back to simpler times when muscle cars were more about muscle and less about flash than the other way around. Bare bones, lightweight, and ready to scream bloody murder down the track, or just to commute back and forth to work with a little more fun than the average Joe.

acme-hot-rod-1969-plymouth-road-runner00o0o fIedzTooAVG 0CI0t2 1200x900The seller says the car is a matching numbers machine, the fender tag and even the coveted build sheet to illustrating his point. However, on both, we see the color listed as “B7” which, any Mopar aficionado is likely to point out, belongs to a blue color that was very popular back in the day, and was reissued recently by Dodge. Given the blue interior, B7 Blue would make a lot of sense, but the white is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it appears that whoever painted it did a nice job, going under the hood and in the trunk. We kind of like the understated white for the starkness, the brightness, the cleanness, the freshness, the – dare we say it – seriousness. It’s hard to take a car named Road Runner too seriously, isn’t it? Regardless, buyer beware, double check all the numbers – even though the seller says it’s matching numbers, we’ve already found one potential blunder which makes us think there are apt to be others. Also, let’s not forget what auctioneers love to call the color white – resale white. It’s easier to hide imperfections under white than darker hues.

Complete with power steering, the seller doesn’t talk much about anything else, so we’re not sure if the top is power operated, if the original radio works, etc. Again, Plymouth was absolutely gifted at building a truly barebones car, allowing buyers to pick and choose what they wanted, and based on that, this is one oddly optioned car, making it even more interesting. All that said, we still think the car is worth the premium if due diligence reveals that it is a real Road Runner and not just a Satellite dressed in drag. Even if it is “just” a Satellite, it is one sweet example and will prove to be a hoot – and leave a lot of room for negotiating the price.acme-hot-rod-1969-plymouth-road-runner00S0S cprT8nxXizo 0CI0t2 1200x900

acme-hot-rod-1969-plymouth-road-runner00808 3wkEQ3h3BV5 0CI0t2 1200x900When Plymouth introduced the Road Runner in 1968 the company had two main goals: 1.) produce a car that could clear the ¼-mile at over 100 MPH, and 2.), cost less than $3,000. A slightly modified 383 CI V-8 with either a 3-speed automatic or 4-speed manual would be standard issue on Road Runner, but customers could opt for the pricier and more powerful 426 Hemi or 440. The 383 almost hit the performance target, crossing the ¼-mile at 98 MPH, but came in beautifully on the pricing, costing just $2,870.

Borrowing from the Mopar Police Pursuit Package, the Road Runner didn’t have a lot of fluff and it definitely meant business, but it was named after a zany, very quick, very fast, and cunning cartoon character, and it did have a horn that sounded like the only line that character ever had. It’s hard not to smile when you hear that horn, but the car itself didn’t have a lot of extra fluff. It was taken seriously by performance enthusiasts and earned a healthy reputation, especially at the drags, especially equipped with the 440 or 426 Hemi. And, let’s face it, with some modifications, the 383 could break the 100 MPH barrier – not as easily as a 440 or 426, but it could do it too.acme-hot-rod-1969-plymouth-road-runner00202 h6F3OVyMuKH 0CI0t2 1200x900

Plymouth was hopeful to sell somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 Road Runners and was thrilled to sell 29,240 coupes and 15,359 two-door hardtops in ’68. For 1969, sales were even more impressive, with 48,549 hardtops, 33,743 coupes. But what’s really special about this car is its relative rarity – only 2,128 convertibles were sold that year, and that makes this an uncommon find. Truth be told, Plymouth did remarkably well with the Road Runner, it was a success story no one ever saw coming. And isn’t that just like the Warner Bros. Road Runner… We see this car as a very clean, no nonsense and rare example, well finished (despite a likely color change) with never-ending appeal. Price just under Hagerty’s #2 “Excellent” condition valuation, we can’t help but call this fair market.

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