1972 Plymouth Road Runner or Satellite?

The success story of the late 1960s became the survival story of the early 1970s. Due to a declining interest in muscle cars because of a variety of reasons, the Road Runner went from 45,000 units in 1968 to just 7,000 cars in 1972. The machine was less powerful than before but could still hold its own compared to the rest of the market. This 1972 weather-worn car finds itself resting in a field in Rapid City, South Dakota, without a motor or transmission. But there is reason to question whether this is Road Runner at all or its less potent cousin, the Satellite. Either way, the car is available here on eBay where the starting bid of $6,500 has not yet been made.

Plymouth threw its hat into the “budget” muscle car ring in 1968 and struck gold with the somewhat gimmicky Road Runner (remember the “meep, meep” horn?). But just four year later, the 426 Hemi was gone along with the 440 6-Pack, so things had to change. The standard engine in the Road Runner was now a new 400 V-8 with 4-barrel (an upgraded 383) but you could still opt for a 440 and the smaller 340. With lower compression ratios, Road Runners could now run on unleaded regular fuel which helped reduce emissions. The styling was also new as Chrysler’s intermediates were redesigned for 1971-74.

The seller describes this as a Road Runner in the headliner, but a Satellite in the ad description. The grille has a badge saying it’s a Road Runner and the bulge on the hood looks like a Road Runner. But the E44 code on the fender tag says the car left the factory with a 318 V-8, which was not on the list of powerplants you could order with a Road Runner. Thus, evidence points to this being a Satellite that someone tried to make look like a Road Runner at some point.

For a car that’s been sitting outside for probably a long time, the body isn’t as bad as it could be. While the visible rust seems limited to the trunk lid and we’re told the trunk floor also has some, we don’t know what things look like underneath. The interior has been filled up with parts that may or may not go to this car, but once you remove all of that the seats might actually look good. The seller offers to provide the buyer with a nice running 318 and transmission (for a separate fee, no doubt). For all we know, this might be the drivetrain that was in this car before.

If this car is somehow a Road Runner without a motor or transmission, is it worth the starting bid in the auction? But if it’s not and actually a Satellite sport coupe, is it also worth the starting bid without an engine or tranny? If you’re looking for a Road Runner from this vintage, why not just spend more money and get something to work with that will have fewer headaches.

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Comments

  1. Marcus

    Aren’t the vin tags usually riveted to the fire wall and not screwed on ? Seems sketchy !

    Like 4
    • jimbunte jimbunte Member

      My 1970 Charger’s fender plate was indeed screwed on just like this one.

      Like 5
    • Boatman Member

      Yes, but Chrysler Corp. also used an options tag that was screwed to the left inner fender, as seen here.

      Like 3
    • Dewey Gill

      I bought a four year old 73 Charger with a 400. Ok looking car, but a disappointment performance wise. As far as insurance goes, I had a Buick GS with the big block turned high 13’s, but it was still titled as a Skylark (V8) and my carrier was none the wiser.

      Like 1
    • stillrunners stillrunners Member

      Yes they were screwed on Mopars even back in the 50’s like my 1956’s are.

  2. Slantasaurus

    RH23, it is a Satellite and not even a Sebring or Sebring plus. Still, looks like a good starting point for a build with SB, BB, Hemi, or Gen3 Hemi.

    Like 4
  3. Classic Steel

    No engine but available and no title but for a 6500 fee you can start your project with a genuine Mopar.
    Just add body work, ten grand paint, 2000 interior, 5000 plus engine, brakes, wiring updates, tires and get inspected for a salvage title and bargain day baby !

    I am gonna call this one the “save Ferris Beuller” that needs a kidney that passed out at 31 flavors special edition offering.

    Like 3
  4. Clipper

    I once purchased a ’72 Satellite Sebring, a good winter driver, for $50. Okay, it was more than a few years ago…but IMO this particular Satellite is not a good restoration candidate even if one does all the work yourself. It simply needs…everything. Better starting points are readily available for not much $. The seller isn’t doing himself any favors teasing “Roadrunner” either (give break please)

    Like 2
  5. rex m

    He has others on Ebay as well…

  6. 200mph

    There was no such “declining interest in muscle cars”… the interest and demand was still high. The death blow to muscle car sales came from the auto insurance industry.
    .
    They slapped staggering surcharges (as much as 50%) on all cars with big V8’s except wagons. Demand sputtered to a halt.
    .
    Rising fuel prices and the “gas crisis” were a much smaller factor.

  7. Phil D

    The VIN confirms that it was born a St. Louis-built Satellite with a 318, to which someone has added a Road Runner hood and grille, and what appears to be a coat of Tor Red paint over the original Rallye Red.

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