Car enthusiasts would agree that the pocket-friendly 1970’s Plymouth Road Runner is still a beauty to behold even to these days. This performance car was a legendary beast back in the 1970’s with Plymouth introducing a new front and rear end look to its 1968 body. At that time, muscle cars were departing from their signature “cheap and speedy” selling mantra. But Chrysler, the manufacturer of Plymouth Road Runner, thought otherwise.
When they created the 1970 Plymouth Road Runner, what they had in mind was actually the revival of the traditional muscle car concept. Thus, this car which sells for more or less than US$3,000 and runs at fourteen-second times in a quarter mile, resurrected the tagline “cheap and speedy”. They also considered it trivial to pay US$60,000 worth of copyrights to Warner Bros. – Seven Arts for the use of the name “Road Runner” based on its hard-to-catch cartoon character, including its trademark ‘beep, beep, beep’ horn.
The production of the first 70’s model was such a huge success that it outperformed the sales of Plymouth’s GTX. This is owed in part to its revved up grille, hood, front fenders, quarter panels, and rear end treatment. Joe Babiasz of autotraderclassics.com adds that the new rear quarters with its non-functional scoop, and hood with a power bulge, gave this speedy bird a more aggressive look.
What may be considered as the Road Runner’s heart and soul was its powertrain. Babiasz explains, “The standard 383 cubic-inch V-8 developed 335 horsepower with the addition of Chrysler’s “906” heads. Next up was the 440 cubic-inch, 390-horse V-8. Topped with three Holley carburetors, the 440 Six Pack, or Six Barrel as Plymouth called it, was a pure race engine.” Chrysler made several adjustments to reduce costs including the replacement of the Plymouth’s aluminium Edelbrock intake manifold with a cast iron version. Luckily, such change did not hamper this muscle car’s performance. The cam for 1970 was revised with a slightly lower duration. All Six Pack engines also had their rotating assembly balanced, and adding a forged crank helped keep things from coming apart. In 1970, the cam was revised to allow a slightly lower duration. To prevent the bottom-end engine failure that some models experienced between the periods of 1968 to 1969, the connecting rods were strengthened by increasing the cross-beam section. An optional 426 cubic-inch Hemi was also offered to the public allowing those who want more muscle from their Road Runner at a whooping 425 horsepower.
In its entire production period, 40,660 coupes were produced, with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of US$3,284. Today, the Road Runner may rise in value as much as US$32,300 to US$59,100. As mentioned, the 426 cubic-inch V-8 engine maxes out 425 horsepower that can go from 0-60 at an amazing 6.6 seconds. It has a estimated top-speed of 115 mph. With such specs, car collectors still dub this road killer as an “all-time favorite”. Babiasz wraps it up by commenting on the overall potential of this Plymouth, “The 1970 Road Runner proved to be a strong player in the factory muscle car wars. With a low price and high horsepower, it optimized the best of the decade with pure and unadulterated performance. The Road Runner reflects an era that unfortunately will probably never be seen again.”