Air Grabber: 1969 Plymouth Road Runner 383/4-Speed!

For any Mopar enthusiast, this 1969 Plymouth Road Runner would have to tick many the right boxes. It is an unmolested car with minimal rust. It also features its original engine and comes equipped with the desirable Air Grabber hood. The cherry on top is that this is a classic that runs and drives. If that combination has your mouth watering, then you will find the Plymouth located in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has currently reached $20,100, and it is a pleasant surprise to learn that the reserve has been met.

The Plymouth has been in storage for the past 20-years and has only recently emerged into the light of day. It has spent a large percentage of its life in California, and this has helped to keep the rust to a bare minimum. The owner supplies a comprehensive selection of photos, and the rust appears to be confined to the lower rear quarter panel on the passenger side, along with a small amount at the bottom of the rear window. You can see both areas in the photo, and fixing them should be easy. It is claimed that all of the steel in the vehicle is original, and I can see no reason to dispute this. The panels appear to be straight, and the gaps are consistent. The owner admits that the Road Runner has received a single repaint and that this was completed in the car’s original Sunfire Yellow. This process will need to be repeated, as it is now looking pretty sad. When I look at the supplied photos, I get the impression that the surface preparation might not have been the best before the repaint, and this is why things are looking so tired today. The trim and chrome are in good order, and the majority of the glass is okay. There is a sizeable crack in the windshield, and it should be replaced sooner rather than later. The Plymouth rolls on a set of Magnum 500 wheels and these appear to be a relatively recent addition.

The Road Runner had been sitting for approximately 20-years, but it was revived in July of this year. That means that the numbers-matching 383ci V8 now runs, and the vehicle does drive. The owner states that the car is okay for short journeys, but it really needs a thorough inspection before any extended trips are undertaken. That sounds like a wise counsel to me. The engine still features its original carburetor, and the 8¾” rear end is the original 3.23 open unit. The original 4-speed transmission was replaced during the 1990s, but the new item is an identical date-correct A-833 4-speed sourced from another Road Runner. The Plymouth also features power steering, but there is no assistance for the brakes. This Road Runner is proof positive that manufacturers were slightly guarded with the truth when it came to the question of engine power. The 383-equipped Road Runner produces an “official” 335hp. The Air Grabber hood would allow the engine to ingest enormous amounts of cold air from outside the vehicle, which is far better than the hot air under the hood. This should bring measurable improvements in engine power, but the figure remains at 335hp. Someone isn’t telling someone something! That doesn’t mean that this is a slow car. Far from it. This Road Runner should be capable of demolishing the ¼ mile in 14.5 seconds. Keep the right foot buried, and you would find 132mph beckoning.

If the buyer wanted to drive this Road Runner as an original survivor, I don’t see why they couldn’t. The upholstered surfaces generally look good, and there are no significant rips or tears. However, if a pristine restoration is the ultimate goal, then it will need some work. The dash pad is cracked and should be changed. The owner does say that the seat covers, carpets, and the headliner would all need to be replaced to achieve perfection. The interior is unmolested, and all of the original optional extras are intact. The radio doesn’t work, but everything else does. I assume that this includes the all-important red lever that is labeled “Carb Air.”

This 1969 Plymouth Road Runner is a rare bird. To find one of these that has been parked for the better part of two decades, and to find it so well preserved, is a treat. This is a true muscle car, and returning it to its best should be a straightforward task. For me, the most encouraging factor is that the reserve on the vehicle has been met. That means that a new home is just around the corner. If one of our readers chooses to buy this classic, I would love to see some photos once it is restored.

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Comments

  1. Steve Bush Member

    Nice to see for once a complete original 1960s Mopar that you can drive now. And it won’t need an additional $30k to $50k invested to be very nice. Unlike that rusty, dirty non running 1968 Charger here that’s already bid to $18k plus that needs everything.

    Like 19
  2. Howard A Member

    I always thought the “Air Grabber” had a pop up hood scoop. Apparently not. Again, not sure about the air grabber, not all Road Runners had that, and as you can see, was probably the only option. They were basic cars, no a/c, P/S, or brakes, vinyl bench seats, but boy howdy, they did one thing great, go fast in a straight line. Many found out, they didn’t stop or handle near as good as they went. Chrysler knew that, it’s how they sold new Road Runners, if the driver survived, that is. And still to be said, these were $500 beaters, at best, and today it will cost you 30 times that to have the same fun. We did it for peanuts on a pump jocky’s salary. As many as we destroyed, it’s amazing to see one at all today. A guy I worked with in the 70’s had a very tired ’68 like this( no fancy hood) and was the only car I drove, that you could hold your foot to the floor, pump the clutch, and row thru the gears. Eat your hearts out, younguns.

    Like 33
    • Stangalang

      This one sucks atmosphere from the sides..but there were some (I think later models) that had a vacuum actuator on a door at the rear of the hood that looked mighty mean when they popped up

      Like 9
      • Gus Fring

        No, from the top.

        Like 1
    • Steve R

      All early Road Runners used some sort of fancy hood. For 1969 there was no external difference in the hoods, it was all in the bolt on inserts. Air Grabber equipped cars had on open inserts which were painted red, while non Air Grabber inserts were sealed off.

      Steve R

      Like 16
      • stillrunners stillrunners Member

        You can’t make an Air grabber hood out of a 1968 hood but all you had to do on a 1969 hood is unscrew the plate and add the air grabber components. Dodge had the same under hood stuff with the working scoops.

        Like 6
      • Troy s

        I believe the Air Grabber set up was good for maybe two tenths in the quarter mile….on a Hemi powered Road Runner if I remember right. None beat out the Six Pack hood in shear intimidation though.

        Like 8
    • triumph1954

      Nice car and Air Grabber hood is correct! 1970 was year of pop up Air Grabber.

      Like 8
    • triumph1954

      Guess you didn’t drive one very much Howard A. These stopped and handled pretty good in there day!

      Like 8
      • Howard A Member

        Well, I’ll tell ya’, I find it troubling a person named “Triumph1954”, would comment on the elephant handling of a late 60’s Plymouth Satellite with a heavy motor up front with bias-ply tires and drum brakes. Again with peoples phony accusations. “You don’t know anything about drag racing”, ” Your values are outdated”, and so on. I grew up during this period, and I’m not sure what you consider “good handling”, but I knew of several “fast” cars of this era, that were wrapped around trees, because they couldn’t negotiate the turn at 100mph with inexperienced drivers at the wheel. It’s one reason these cars are so rare today and command a premium price.

        Like 5
      • karl

        “couldn’t negotiate the turn at 100mph with inexperienced drivers” ? How many factory cars today can handle a turn at 100mph , experienced or other wise ? At norman speeds they handled as good as most cars of the day with the technology of the time. You could wrap a 68 Belvedere with a slant 6 around a tree if you drove too fast for the conditions or road design. Yes, a lot did get wrecked by inexperienced drivers, but some likely got wrecked by veteran drivers too – but that goes for any car in any decade. Its true they ae rare now, but crashes are only one reason . They were built in much limited numbers , and 50 years of time have taken their toll , be it rust , wrecks or just worn out and junked.

        Like 5
      • JoeBob396

        My 68 goat had manual drums. I took maintained them carefully. One day I had to panic stop from 70 and they hauled me down to 30 impressively and then disappeared. Fortunately, the emergency cleared before I got to it. My 66 Chevelle’s manual drums weren’t anything to brag on either. Didn’t think about it. The rush from stomping on the loud pedal was what I wanted.

        Like 1
    • TinCanSailor

      You are spot on! I had a 69 RR that I paid $700 for in 1979 while I was pumping gas for a living. That car was a blast… in a straight line. Turning and stopping were as scary as hell! :)

      Like 3
      • Russell

        Nothing thrills as much as panic stopping a 3800 pound car with 4 drum brakes … factor in a little rain to dampen the shoes and ouch.
        Still we survived

        Like 3
      • Angrymike

        Ah, the drums on Road Runner’s and even on my 67 Chevelle weren’t that bad. My Chevelle didn’t even have power brakes and it was just fine unless you were driving it stupidly in traffic. Always remember, ppl drove 4-wheel drum brakes for a lot of years, without so much as a problem.

        Like 3
  3. Moparman Member

    Be STILL my beating heart! Although my preference is for the ’70 model, I’d happily park this one in my driveway! Take car of the cosmetics, perform a power front disc brake conversion, and cruise! GLWTA!! :-)

    Like 11
    • ellen dyer

      My 69 RR has been garaged for 20 yrs. All original, matching numbers, 4 spd. 1 owner…me!! And still has its “beep beep”. Flattest turning car I’ve seen.

      Like 1
  4. Angrymike

    I see it’s got top of the fender blinkers, my father’s had them also, and it seems it’s kind of a rare option. Of the thousands of 1969 birds I’ve seen in my life, I’ve only saw a few with them. Most Road Runner’s were built the way they were intended, very cheaply. It’s a neat option.

    Like 8
    • bone

      Thats part of the light package option ; on most Mopars it meant fender blinkers, glove box light , ashtray light and trunk light

      Like 10
      • Angrymike

        I think it also included a light over the key as well. I just don’t see it much on Road Runner’s, it’s on a bunch of GTX’s.

        Like 8
    • stillrunners stillrunners Member

      Love the fender turn blinkers – lucky to have them on most of mine and my mom’s. My late year hardtop 1968 had them along with A/C and all power stuff.

      Like 2
      • Terry Bowman

        My 69′ Dart swinger has them, along with the rest of the light package.

  5. Steve R

    Nice car that is well optioned. There is a reason for the strong bidding.

    Where I live, in the early-80’s 4spd Road Runners, like this one, in good condition were typically $1,500-2,000, only beaters destined for the wrecking yards were $500. That was true for the average muscle car, nicer ones that needed work could be found for less by those willing to put in the work of searching them out, but the really cheap, $500 ones were already lost causes.

    Steve R

    Like 11
    • John Polacek

      Passed on one for 750 was 383 column auto bench seat with vinyl top. Wasn’t in bad shape either.

      Like 1
  6. Leland

    I like the wheels and tires, but how old are those tires?

  7. Leland

    I like the tires.

  8. Troy s

    Some of those 500 dollar muscle car junks in the eighties found their way onto the local stock car tracks, mostly GM’s of course, like El Cajon Speedway from my stomping grounds. Or at least in parts.
    Crash bang, more fenders, hoods, completely gutted out SS Chevelles, GTO’s, 442’s…my how times have changed. This Road Runner would have been a cheapy for sure as a ten or twelve year old used gas guzzler that required 104 octane boost or some type of higher octane race gas,,, but man they were fun to mess with. Nobody left em stock either, nobody cared about numbers that matched, all that mattered was the butt kicking pinned to the seat romping thrills. I like this ‘Runner, although the color is kinda boring. Nice black interior though, sporty compared to most RR’ I’ve seen.

    Like 4
  9. T

    Gosh I miss the late 60’s.

    Like 9
  10. Samuel Clarence Richards

    Had a 69 Roadrunner with a 440 in it and 4 speed on the floor love that car.

    Like 3
  11. David Ulrey

    Do only the pale yellow ones survive long term??? Of course I know that isn’t the case but 2 yellow ones just today. In 1976 I had a pale yellow 66 Mustang coupe which was followed by a 67 pale yellow Impala fast back with a 327. I only bought them because they were such good deals. Pale yellow is not a typical 16 years old boy’s favorite color. I don’t hate them in that color but I still haven’t developed a soft spot in my heart for them. This Road Runner darn sure seems to be well worth the money as prices go today.

    Like 1
  12. Tooyoung4heyday Member

    I can’t say that I’ve ever seen the fender lights on a Runner, Satellites and GTX yes. Definitely haven’t seen the side trim on a runner. Nice to see this car was preserved. Reminds me of a ’69 GTX my brother almost purchased in the late 90’s. 440/4 speed gold and black over black. Similar condition otherwise, he passed on it as it wasn’t exactly what he was after at the time. Asking price was $12,500…… If only….. On second note, the rising air grabber hood is ’70-’71 and in my opinion one of the coolest options ever from the muscle car era!

    Like 1
    • bone

      I think thats just aftermarket stick on moldings ; if you’re talking about the middle trim

      Like 3
  13. ms138va

    Any one care to comment why the speedometer does not go to 150. Thought that was standard issue on these monster machines.

    • DON

      I used to have a 68 Satellite and thought that as well , but if you look at 68-69 roadrunner dashes images they are all 120 mph .

      Like 1
  14. Woody

    This was the top hot-rod in 1969.Had a fastback Barracuda M-code this same color and would love to own this Road-Runner!

    Like 1
  15. Elwood

    Bought a 1968 Road Runner with 68,000 miles on it from the original owner for $150 in 1976. It ran fine was New York rusty. It made a fine stock car. I still have the air cleaner insert that said 383 Road Runner. I feel bad now but then it was just a used car then. To make up for it I still have my 1979 Trans-Am I bought new, less than 50,000 miles a nice original car.

  16. Husky

    And you could buy that Chrysler 300K for $9750.

    Would love to see that K overtake some Ferraris, Aston Martins, Jaguars etc at Goodwood Revival 2021

  17. Bill McCoskey

    In checking the underhood photos, I believe there are pieces of the Air grabber option that may be missing. Also make sure the option code N96 is on the fender order tag, as some Plymouth dealers ordered the kit and put it on cars in their inventory, or car owners ordered the kit thru MoPaR parts departments.

    Note that in today’s Pandemic world, the N95 stifles air movement, while the N96 increases air movement!

    Like 3

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