Real Muscle Car? 1974 Plymouth Road Runner 440

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Some people claim that muscle cars were all but dead and gone by the time this Road Runner was built. Sure, it would take a couple of decades before we saw the crazy high horsepower numbers again, but cars like this 440-powered Plymouth kept the flame alive. They still provided plenty of torque for those of us who enjoy burnouts and stoplight drags. This particular car is claimed to be wearing most of its original paint and the engine runs albeit with the occasional “pop”. It’s located in West Creek, New Jersey and is listed here on eBay with no reserve.

The driver seat has a tear and the dash is cracked, but otherwise, the interior doesn’t look like it needs much more than a good cleaning. The seller mentions that they have the original center console and shifter. Those would need to go back in and I’d probably try to salvage the rest as long as it doesn’t smell too bad in there. An upholstery cleaner would be needed to bring that carpet back to life and some floor mats could keep it going for a few more years.

Unfortunately, there is rust hiding underneath. There are a couple of holes in the floor and more of the nasty stuff in the rockers. You could treat it now and worry about repairing it next winter. This car needs some restoration work but isn’t so far gone that it should be taken off the road right now. I would focus on making it a driver first so I could see if it’s something I’d want to dump a lot of money into or not. Remember that paint is expensive and it’s unlikely that you will get a better job than it had from the factory.

As I’ve already mentioned, horsepower numbers were lower than earlier Road Runners, but this four-barrel 440 could still be a lot of fun. Stock it had 275 horsepower which still isn’t bad, but the number that really matters here is torque. With close to 400 foot-pounds of tire twisting grunt, this thing still had some muscle car spirit left in it! The seller mentions that this engine runs, but pops. I’m guessing they mean backfires? Hopefully, there aren’t popping noises coming from the bottom end of valvetrain… Either way, plan on cleaning up the fuel system.

The front brakes have already been gone through, but I’d want to check for cracked hoses and leaks out back before attempting a yard drive. This is a big heavy car so some serious stopping force is needed. Luckily, this one did leave the factory with front disc brakes. No sense going fast unless you can stop! If the compression numbers check out, this could be a fun driver that you could restore as you find time and money. Anyone who says it’s not real muscle car can just watch while you run off into the sunset. Beep Beep!

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  1. Sandy Claws

    Always had a soft spot for these. A little old lady down my street ordered a new 2 door Plymouth like this. Red with a white interior, console, auto, power everything with air. Only a 318 but a real nice looking car. She specially ordered it to have it shipped to Germany for a summer long vacation! At the end of the summer her and the car were shipped back, but she spent years saying how much fun it was to drive that “big American car” on the autobahn and later the autostrada. in Italy. Wonder what ever happened to that car.

    Like 21
  2. Angrymike

    My second car was a 73 Road Runner, 340 auto. Have great memories of that car. If I bought one now it’d be a complete car, no more resto work for these old bones.
    It looked exactly like this, fat tires and all.

    Like 39
    • Dracula

      That car gets my “blood” warm!

      Like 0
  3. Woody

    Angrymike that’s a nice classic ride! Mopar always had the way of catching the eye with the stripes and scoops,advertising what’s under the hood! I’m always looking for a Barracuda again,one that is ready to “show n go”!

    Like 5
  4. J_PaulMember

    I would say “yes” on the “real muscle car” question—275 hp may not seem to be much when compared to earlier cars, but given the difference between the SAE Net and SAE Gross power ratings it’s not a fair comparison. On the old, pre-1972 system, this motor would have put out 300+ hp.

    Considering the state of musclecars and the Road Runner in 1974, the 440 makes this both rare and interesting. It deserves a proper restoration.

    Like 14
    • Dave

      Don’t forget that compression ratios were lowered after the 1971 model year. I concur with the restoration. They couldn’t have made very many of these.

      Like 7
  5. cold340t

    Rare, Rare, Rare U-code Road Runner. Restore it please! MOPAR or No car!

    Like 12
    • Chris

      For ’73-’74 if your ordered a 440 it came as a GTX optioned Roadrunner. These are rare for the year. I’m not positive but I think the production number is around 700. Might be a good buy in and see some appreciation in the future. Worth restoring in my opinion.

      Like 7
  6. Dave

    Most of these were 340s, with the 400 and 440 being rarer thanks to the first Arab oil embargo. I wonder just how many of these 440s they made?

    Since it’s a model made before catalytic converters, it’ll run real good on regular gasss…but, since it is that old, the only thing that will limit you are your imagination and wallet.

    Like 6
  7. Douglas Wildey

    My mother bought one of these new ,green on green ,318 with posi ,great looking car,but it never met rust it didn’t like fenders started to bubble after one winter rot under the roof too bad for such a nice looking car

    Like 3
    • 86_Vette_Convertible

      Living in the rust belt also, something I’m a firm believer in is Ziebart Rust Proofing. I know there are those that may think I’m a heretic but I’ve had vehicles that have seen winter snow and salt for over 20 years that were solid as a rock. I’ve had some that weren’t treated that started rusting in just a couple of years.

      My 2 cents.

      Like 6
      • John D.

        I’ll second 86_Vette’s rust proofing comment and add a weekly or monthly wax job.

        In 1980, I sold my best friend a brand new Sapporo that got missed in a port parking lot, so it sat for almost 2 years near/in salt air (we bought a truck load of these), so I recommended that we rustproof it (Chrysler had just started dealing with WaxOyl at the time). He lived in Buffalo, NY then and his roommate bought a new Prelude. In 2 years, his Sapporo still looked new and the Prelude was showing rust on the lower parts.

        Fluid Film seems to be the latest and greatest way to preserve your car.

        Like 5
  8. Troy s

    Yeah, it’s a muscle car, not too many left in ’74. 440 still had some wallop even in this state of tune.
    Maybe not a great quarter miler, low 16’s, but the potential was there. I wonder how many were actually left stock, even just a few years later.
    Like the Road Runner better than the Charger when it come to these years.

    Like 2
  9. Superdessucke

    I probably wouldn’t dump a lot of money into it. I think the muscle car market is going to decline in the near future across the board. But I think the people who will get busted particularly hard across the financial chops will be the ones who paid a lot for or put a lot of money into muscle cars built after 1972.

    These post-muscle cars are kind of like the rundown working-class neighborhood next to the glitzy gentrified neighborhood. Those who can’t afford the hot thing buy there thinking it will be the next “it” thing. But the majority of the time, it never is! You get what you pay for, as my grampy used to say.

    That said, I think this is a good car if the price stays in the four figures. I would clean it up, get it running good, and have fun with it, and not view it as my retirement fund.

    Like 12
    • Chris

      Great analogy! I agree!

      Like 3
  10. irocrobb

    My opinion is if you did 95 % of the work yourself you might come out alright. I would think you could spend 20 grand on the body alone,not even starting anywhere else.
    The lead picture reminds me of many cars I saw in the Autotrader in the 1980s that looked good. I would drive 100 miles only to find out they were more a parts car.

    Like 6
  11. Del

    Rare car. Rare colour.

    But its going to need a lot of money and effort

    Like 5
  12. Dave

    When I was growing up my brother had a white one with a red stripe and plaid seating it ran in the low 14’s never could catch my AAR in the quarter

    Like 0
  13. JoeNYWF64

    Where are the mufflers on this car? lol

    Like 0
  14. Melvin

    This r a project but all done great for the money

    Like 0

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