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Plymouth Road Runner



History

1968-1980






Introduction: By 1968, muscle cars had moved away from their street slepper image and had become option loaded, luxury machines that only the well to do could afford. Plymouth decided that what was needed was a return to basics. Starting with the stripped pillared coupe version of the Belvedere, it created a new breed of muscle car that packed maximum excitement with a minimum price. Just like the old days.


1968 Plymouth Road Runner






Comments: In 1968, Plymouth decided that muscle cars had gotten too far from their original purpose: cheap (and very fast) thrills. The company paid $50,000 to Warner Brothers to affix a certain cartoon bird onto its new vehicle, which was based on a stripped Belvedere pillared coupe body, and the Road Runner was born. The standard engine was MOPAR's tried and true 383 cid powerplant, which was treated to the heads, manifolds, camshafts, valve springs, and crankcase windage tray from the race ready 440 Magnum. The result: 335bhp and 425lb-ft. This was coupled with numerous other performance features including beefed up suspensions, manual transmissions, brakes, tires. The interior was basic: a no nonsense bench seat and no carpeting - just rubber floor mats. The main attration was a base price of $2896. For those who wanted a little bit extra, there was one engine option; for $714 Plymouth would slide in a 426 Hemi. Although the Hemi clashed with the budget based principle of the Road Runner, 1/4 mile times in the low 13s needed no apologies. A hardtop coupe and functional hood vents were added mid year during 1968. A horn that went "beep-beep" complimented the road runner decals (in gray due to time constraints) that were standard on all Road Runners. Plymouth originally estimated that it would sell 2,500 vehicles in 1968; it actually sold 45,000 copies. The 1968 Road Runner is perhaps the second most significant muscle car to the 1964 Pontiac GTO as it shifted the market back to its bang for the buck roots.

Production:
2D Pillared Coupe: 29,240
2D Hardtop Coupe: 15,359

Engines:
383 V8 335 bhp @ 5200 rpm, 425 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm.
426 Hemi V8 425 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 490 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm.

Performance:
383/335: 0-60 in 7.1 sec, 1/4 mile in 15.0 sec @ 96mph.
426/425: 0-60 in 5.3 sec, 1/4 mile in 13.55 sec @ 105mph.


1969 Plymouth Road Runner






Comments: Due to the success of the 1968 Road Runner, Plymouth decided to expand the choices. A convertible was added to the existing hardtop and pillared coupe body styles and bucket seats were added as options. The Road Runner decals were now in color. Joining the existing 383 and 426 cid engines were a choice of 440 cid V8s, a four barrel version rated at 375 bhp, and a triple-two barrel 440 cid V8. Known as the "440 + 6", this engine provided Hemi-like acceleration for about half the price. Included with the 440+6 engine were simple, black wheels, a flat black fiberglass lift-off hood, and a large, functional hood scoop. Similar to the hood scoop found on the Dodge Super Bee, this was one of the most efficient MOPAR hood scoops. Of course, the 440+6 still wasn't a Hemi, which continued to dominate just about everything else one could race against. Buyers rewarded Plymouth's decision by snatching up 82,109 copies.

Production:
2D Pillared Coupe: 33,743
2D Hardtop Coupe: 48,549
Convertible: 2,218

Engines:
383 V8 335 bhp @ 5200 rpm, 425 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm.
426 Hemi V8 425 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 490 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm.
440 V8 375 bhp @ 4600 rpm, 480lb-ft @ 3200 rpm.
440+6 V8 390 bhp @ 4700 rpm, 490 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm.

Performance:
426/425: 0-60 in 5.3 sec, 1/4 mile in 13.55 sec @ 105mph.


1970 Plymouth Road Runner




Comments: The Road Runner received fresh new front and rear styling for 1970. The "Six Pack" hood was dropped, but all Road Runners were now available with an optional Air Grabber Hood. This consisted of a under the dash switch which would open a power operated trap door on the hood, revealing a shark cartoon with the words "Air Grabber." Just what you need to psyche out the competition at the stoplight. The "Air Grabber" would automatically close when the engine was turned off, to keep out the elements. The engine choices remained the same, although the Hemi went from solid to hydraulic lifters for improved durability and the standard four speed manual became an option as a strengthened three speed manual was made standard.

Production:
2D Pillared Coupe: 15,716
2D Hardtop Coupe: 24,944
Convertible: 824

Engines:
383 V8 335 bhp @ 5200 rpm, 425 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm.
426 Hemi V8 425 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 490 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm.
440 V8 375 bhp @ 4600 rpm, 480lb-ft @ 3200 rpm.
440+6 V8 390 bhp @ 4700 rpm, 490 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm.

Performance:
383/335: 0-60 in 7.1 sec, 1/4 mile in 15.0 sec @ 96 mph.
426/425: 0-60 in 5.3 sec, 1/4 mile in 13.49 sec @ 105 mph.


1971 Plymouth Road Runner




Comments: 1971 saw the beginning of the end of the era of muscle cars. In just its fourth year, the Road Runner saw its performance bent engines fall victim to tightening government regulations on emissions and fuel economy. The standard 383cid powerplant dropped 35 bhp while the 440 engines both lost 5 bhp. The 426 Hemi stayed fast at 425 bhp. This would be the last year for the Hemi as it too would fall victim to the increased standards. Both the 2 Door Pillared Coupe and the Convertible body styles were dropped, leaving only the 2 Door Hardtop as the sole offering.

Production:
2D Hardtop Coupe: 14,218

Engines:
383 V8 300 bhp @ 4800 rpm, 410 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm.
426 Hemi V8 425 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 490 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm.
440 V8 370 bhp @ 4600 rpm, 480lb-ft @ 3200 rpm.
440+6 V8 385 bhp @ 4700 rpm, 490 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm.

Performance:
N/A


1972 Plymouth Road Runner




Comments: The Road Runner received a redesigned rear bumper and side markers along with electronic ignition, 60 series tires, and a rear sway bar. The front bumper now had two vertical slots for the bumper jack and the Road Runner received a new grille. Due to increasing emission standards, the 383 V8 and the 426 Hemi were dropped. A new 400 cid V8 was introduced, rated at 255 bhp. The GTX was now available as an option on the Road Runner and came only with the 440 engine.

Production:
2D Hardtop: 7,628

Engines:
340 V8 240 bhp. (SAE Net)
400 V8 255 bhp. (SAE Net)
440 V8 280 bhp. (SAE Net)
440+6 V8 330 bhp.(SAE Net)

Performance:
N/A


1973 Plymouth Road Runner




Comments: .

Production: 17,400
GTX: 117

Engines:
318 V8 170 bhp. (SAE Net)
340 V8 240 bhp. (SAE Net)
400 V8 255 bhp. (SAE Net)
440 V8 280 bhp. (SAE Net)
440+6 V8 330 bhp.(SAE Net)

Performance:
N/A


1974 Plymouth Road Runner




Comments: There would be little changes for the Road Runner for 1974, the last year of the original generation and the last year as a true performance car.

Production: 9,600


Engines:
318 V8 170 bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 245 bhp. (SAE Net)
400 V8 255 bhp. (SAE Net)
440 V8 280 bhp. (SAE Net)
440+6 V8 330 bhp.(SAE Net)

Performance:
N/A


1975 Plymouth Road Runner




Comments: For 1975, the Road Runner was moved to the Fury platform. This would be the only year that the Road Runner was based on this platform.

Production: ?


Engines:
?

Performance:
N/A


1976 Plymouth Road Runner




Comments: For 1976, the Road Runner was moved to the new Volare platform, which had replaced the popular Valiant. Although available with either a two barrel 318 or 360 engine, the Road Runner was now truly just a trim package on an economy car.

Production: ?


Engines:
318 V8 150 bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 170 bhp. (SAE Net)

Performance:
N/A


1977 Plymouth Road Runner




Comments: The 1977 Plymouth Road Runner saw the first use of an on-board engine computer, the Lean Burn system, which managed a 4 barrel electronic feedback carbureator on the 360 engine.

Production: ?


Engines:
318 V8 150 bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 (2 bbl) 170 bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 (4 bbl) ??? bhp. (SAE Net)

Performance:
N/A


1978 Plymouth Road Runner




Comments: There were no significant changes for 1978.

Production: ?


Engines:
318 V8 150 bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 (2 bbl) 170 bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 (4 bbl) ??? bhp. (SAE Net)

Performance:
N/A


1979 Plymouth Road Runner




Comments: 1979 saw the introduction of an optional 4-barrel carb for the 318 engine.

Production: Approximately 1,000


Engines:
318 V8 (2 bbl) 150 bhp. (SAE Net)
318 V8 (4 bbl) ??? bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 (2 bbl) 170 bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 (4 bbl) ??? bhp. (SAE Net)

Performance:
N/A


1980 Plymouth Road Runner




Comments: 1980 was the last year for both the Volare and the Road Runner.

Production: ?


Engines:
318 V8 (2 bbl) 150 bhp. (SAE Net)
318 V8 (4 bbl) ??? bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 (2 bbl) 170 bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 (4 bbl) ??? bhp. (SAE Net)

Performance:
N/A








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