Plymouth Road Runner
Plymouth initially introduced the Road Runner in 1968, with production continuing until 1980. The idea behind this model was pretty simple: a $3,000 car that can run a quarter-mile in 14 seconds or less for breathtaking thrill riding. After some brainstorming and eventually research & development, the Road Runner was born. Plymouth’s brilliant idea followed a formula as simple as their vision: throw out everything that you don’t need to achieve the 14-second ¼ mile, and add everything that you do need. Simple, enough, right? This low-buck American muscle car ran on the Chrysler B base platform. Here’s an interesting fun fact: Plymouth purchased copyrights to use the name Road Runner, as well as the beeping horn idea, from Warner Brothers. This created a likeliness to the cartoon, which brought the Road Runner an instant recognition.
1968 was Road Runner’s first year. They got off on the right foot with making the right decision about the engine: a MOPAR 383 horse power V8. Sounds familiar? It was the same one put into 440 Magnums. Along with manual transmission, it came with firm suspension, and other performance-maximizing options. Everything else was stripped out, down to carpeting; Plymouth decided that just rubber mats would suffice. For a 2-door 6-seater, the Plymouth Road Runner was a good buy at under 3 grand.
By 1970, you could get a lot more options with the Road Runner: for those willing to pay extra, you could get a 425 horse power 426 Hemi V8 engine that was capable of going from 0 to 60mph in just 5.3 seconds. The top speed in a quarter-mile was 103mph, which allowed it to go through the strip in 13.5 seconds. Additional engines included optional 383 V8 at 335 hp, the 440 V8 running at 375 hp, and a 440+6 V8 doing 390 hp.
In 1971, heavy-duty suspension was hardened and heavy-duty breaks were added. Plymouth added safety features onto the Road Runner as they became standard among the competitive brands. This year’s model featured a more sporty design, which became more appealing over years previous.
The 1975 was extremely difficult to find parts for. Because the federal government began issuing emissions regulations, Plymouth realized that the Road Runner would be hard to sustain, given new catalytic converter and egr standards. Not even 8,000 of them were made, making it difficult to upkeep. It certainly underperformed from its predecessors: 0 to 60mph in nearly 9 seconds was abysmal for the brand, not to mention the 15.8 second ¼-mile. This was Road Runner’s last year in serial production.