All American power fans should remember these four numbers by heart. 1-9-6-8. It was a year when the Dodge Charger, Chevrolet Chevelle, and the Plymouth Road Runner – the real stars of the muscle car segment appeared. It’s a pity that the golden age of these beautiful sportsmen was too short.
Source: Wallpaper Cave
By the end of the 60s, most high-speed cars were beyond the financial capabilities of their potential buyers. In the late 60s, the creators of the Plymouth Road Runner were guided by the idea of building a fast and inexpensive car like those that appeared at the very beginning of the muscle car era. And while Plymouth already had a high-performance GTX in stock, the company’s designers once again sat down at the drawing board with the clear goal of building a machine that could cover a quarter-mile (402m) in less than 14 seconds and would cost less than $3000. The goal was achieved, and in 1968 the so-called budget muscle car appeared on the roads of the United States. The debut of the Road Runner was so successful that the new product instantly overshadowed the more luxurious GTX.
Source: Wallpaper Abyss
In 1968 the Road Runner was launched, and three engines were available for it. The base was a proven 383 cc (~6.3 liters) Mopar unit, which for a solid 335 hp accelerated to “hundreds” in just 7 seconds. And the main thing, of course, was the price. In the basic configuration, the vehicle cost only $ 2,896 – much cheaper than direct competitors. For example, the base Dodge Charger, which had only 230 “horses”, cost almost $3200. For those who wanted more, the 426 Hemi engine with hemispherical combustion chambers was offered for an extra $714. This seven-liter monster had already developed 425 hp and accelerated the car to “hundreds” in almost 5 seconds. The seven-liter Hemi engine with 425 horsepower made the Road Runner one of the fastest muscle cars. The market needed such a car, so its success was a foregone conclusion. Well, the company made very cautious plans for sales of the Road Runner. In 1968, when the car appeared, the production plan was only 2500 cars. However, the demand for the “muscle car for the poor” was huge: in the first year, buyers paid for 45000 cars! Yes, many wanted comfortable cars willing to pay for them (for such buyers, Plymouth had a GTX model, which was essentially the same Road Runner stuffed with options), but there were many who just needed the speed.
Source: Mecum Auctions
The 1969 model kept the same basic look, but with minor changes to the rear lights and grille on the side, parking lights, optional bucket seats, and new Road Runner decals. The 1969 model was based on the same platform as the Satellite model and the rare GTX modification. From the Satellite, the Road Runner’s interior stood out with the hood design, seats, and model badging under the hood, while the GTX additionally boasted a unique grille and chrome bar between the taillights. In the same year, a convertible body was also released. There was an “Air Grabber” option (in various literature you can find the term “N96 code”), which consisted of several air ducts connected to the bucket on the hood and headed directly to the cylinders for a higher calorific value of the mixture. A sort of “mechanical air blower” was controlled by a lever under the dashboard. Since the middle of the year, the “rows” of engines had been replenished with the 440th Six Pack (7.2 l) with a capacity of 390 l / s (291 kW) and 664 Nm of torque at 3200 rpm as opposed to the more expensive 426 Hemi – the same torque at a lower engine speed. Moreover, Motor Trend Car magazine awarded the Plymouth Road Runner The Car of the Year in 1969. People liked both the ascetic image of the car and its affordable price. Although it was not very convenient to go on a trip through several states riding it, it was cheap, and at a traffic light, it could easily deal with any rival. In 1969, compared with the first year of production, sales doubled reaching 82,109 units!
Source: Model Roundup
Advertisement for the 1969 Road Runner was done unusually. To do this, the Chrysler concern bought the right to use Warner Bros’s famous cartoon character – the Road Runner bird, in its advertising campaign. The deal cost $50,000. For this money, this bird appeared in the Plymouth brochures with its “branded” expression “beep-beep”, which became the main advertising slogan for the car.
For more interesting car stories visit our Car Library section