Plymouth Road Runner

The Plymouth Road Runner was a muscle car built by the Plymouth between 1968 and 1980. In 1968, the first muscle cars were, in the opinion of many, moving away from their roots as relatively cheap, fast cars as they gained options. Although Plymouth already had a performance car in the GTX, designers decided to go back to the drawing board and reincarnate the original muscle car concept. Plymouth wanted a car able to run 14-second times in the quarter mile (402 m) and sell for less than US$3000. Both goals were met, and the low-cost muscle car hit the street. The success of the Road Runner would far outpace the upscale and lower volume GTX, with which it was often confused.

The 1969 model kept the same basic look but made some slight cosmetic changes (i.e. rear tail lights, optional bucket seats, new Road Runner decals). The Road Runner added a convertible option for 1969 with 2128 droptop models produced that year, and only ten with the Hemi (j code). Six of those Hemi convertibles were automatics; only the remaining four were four-speed manual transmissions. Three are known to exist.

An "Air Grabber" option (N96 code) was introduced this year; it consisted of an air duct assembly bolted to the underside of the hood that connected to twin rectangular upward-facing scoops in the hood. When the hood was closed, a rubber seal fitted over a large-oval unsilenced air cleaner assembly that ducted air directly into the engine. The scoops in the hood could be opened and closed via a lever under the dashboard.

While the 383 engine remained the standard powerplant, a 440 CID engine with three two-barrel carburetors, known as the 440 6bbl, was added to the lineup at mid-year to qualify the engine for the Super Stock drag racing class. Dodge marketed its three two-barrel setup as the 440 Six Pack on Super Bee models and this familiar moniker is often mistakenly associated with Plymouths. 440 6bbl Road Runners had no wheel covers or hubcaps, had flat black H wheels, and an organisol black lift-off fiberglass hood with functional hood scoop. Its 440 engine produced 390 hp (291 kW) and 490 lb·ft (664 N·m) of torque at 3200 rpm, very similar numbers to the Hemi and at a lower engine speed. This meant the cheaper 440 6bbl was nearly as fast as the 426 Hemi, at least up to highway speeds. This option, along with the economical yet fast 383 and the outrageously fast Hemi helped propel Plymouth, and corporate sibling Dodge, to the top of the dragstrip echelon. This model of Road Runner and Super Bee had a Code M as the fifth character in the VIN and was also known as the A12 model.

The Road Runner was named Motor Trend Car of the Year for 1969. Sales almost doubled to 82,109, second to the Chevelle SS-396 and more than 10,000 units ahead of the Pontiac GTO, which dropped to third place in this market segment.

Source: Wikipedia, 2011

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