Drop-Top Project: 1969 Plymouth Road Runner

UPDATE 7/28/21: Apparently this car didn’t move when it was listed in May 2021, so the seller has reposted it. The Buy It Now price has been lowered by 40% to $9,000.

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The Plymouth Road Runner was a phenom when it was introduced in the late 1960s, a budget muscle car with plenty of brawn. Chrysler redesigned their B-bodied intermediates in 1968, which allowed Plymouth to roll out “Big Bird”, but they had no convertible version until the following year. And 1969-70 would be the only time these would be offered. In rough shape and sitting outside in Linden, New Jersey with some other old cars, this ’69 edition is hoping to be restored one day. The rag-top is available here on eBay for the Buy It Now price of $15,000 (or you can make an offer). Thanks, Boot, for another muscle car find!

While the Pontiac GTO is largely credited for starting the mid-size muscle car movement, the Plymouth Road Runner would successfully reach those buyers on tight budgets. Plymouth sold 44,600 of them in 1968 and another 41,500 the following year, of which 1,890 were convertibles. Only 648 more of them were built for 1970 before Chrysler dropped the topless body style on its intermediates. The seller’s convertible is one of just 1,111 built with the 383 V8, a 4-barrel carburetor, and the TorqueFlite automatic.

We’re told this ’69 convertible is wearing its original red paint, but both front fenders have been replaced, possibly due to earlier corrosion? The lower rear quarter panel on the driver’s side also seems to have some rust and the chassis looks to be sitting almost on the ground. Since the tires aren’t all flat, is there something amiss with the suspension or was the car lowered in a former life? Either way, if the buyer wants to go back to original specifications, there may be some messy work here. We’re told the seller has the rear bumper and it will go with the car.

Under the hood sits a dormant, numbers matching 383 V8 that gives the impression it hasn’t been started in quite some time. The black and white interior with a bench seat has seen better days and restoring that part of the automobile must be on the to-do list. If all the windows have been left down, Mother Nature and her small creatures may have had access to the interior. A look-up of the VIN confirms this car is what the seller says it is. It has a reported 87,000 miles, but that likely doesn’t matter given the amount of work waiting here for the buyer.

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Comments

  1. Ramone

    Yes, there is something wrong with the drivers side rear. It’s going back to Mother Earth. This would be a challenge to move, let alone restore. It’s a 69 RR convert. Someone will take it on, I’m sure.

    Like 8
    • Dave Lewandoski

      the left rear frame rail is MIA.

      Like 1
  2. JACKinNWPA JACKinNWPA Member

    Someone will restore it, That will take $100,00 to make it a $50,000 car and it will be beautiful, that or it will be sold again half done in an ad something like this, “For sale $25,000 OBO $50,000 invested!”

    Like 19
  3. Vance

    Once again I ask the question why? Why does anyone let a semi-rare car get deteriorated to this point, when its almost not worth it to restore. Stubborn, stupid, lazy, greedy, or the age old answer, ” I’m gonna get to it one day”. All you folks who have cars that we all love, don’t let them get to this point. Sell them, trade them, hell, give them away to somebody that will truly appreciate them. Life is more than money, ” We mortals are but shadows and dust”.

    Like 15
    • DON

      Most of the time the reason is that after about 10 years the car wasn’t worth much . Before the internet , few people had any idea as how many of a certain car , certain color, and certain options were produced. Just because a guy in New Jersey didn’t see another 69 Road Runner ragtop in his area, for all he knew there could have been a thousand or more in another , probably drier, state . So after the car is around 10 years old, and especially on the East Coast , it becomes another rusty beater . By the early 1980s you could pick up a beater Road Runner for around $500.00 . Between the gas prices and the end of the Muscle car era, they were unwanted by most, and many were crushed out that looked better than this.

      Like 11
  4. AMCFAN

    There was a reason that there were millions of Road Runner coupes and hardtops but only 1000 some odd convertibles.

    People that wanted them new wanted two things. To go as fast and to do it cheaply. The RR convert goes against those two rules because it isn’t a race car and it is more expensive heavier.

    How odd is it anyway to have a bench seat rag top? The only people this would appeal to are the deep pocket collectors that only want bragging rights to tell those that don’t really care how rare it is.

    The days of the muscle car bubble are over.

    Like 2
    • Steve R

      You are right, “the days of the muscle at bubble is over”. Over the past 35 years they have proven their staying power. There have been fluctuations with certain makes and models rising and falling based on short term trends, but that’s to be expected. They are still relevant in popular culture and will be for the foreseeable future. Everyone that has predicted their demise, as a whole, over the last 20 years have been proven wrong time and time again.

      Steve R

      Like 7
  5. James427

    This is one of those I would have been glad to find, glad to save and glad to pass on to somebody else.

  6. Raymond Thomas Member

    The reason for a bench seat convertible? You guys are getting too old!

  7. Gary Rhodes

    Unlike the song, this will not be a free bird, it will be an expensive bird. I bought a 65 Coronet convertible parts car in a little better condition and when we pulled it onto the rollback the inner fenders separated from the fire wall and the torsion bar mount/frame came with it. We got it to the house and unloaded the two pieces and my buddy said “I wonder if it will run” We hooked up enough electric to get spark and starter and primed the carb, cranked for about fifteen seconds and it sat there idling. This car sat outside for ten years without being started in Cleveland, Ohio so you know what the condition was.

    Like 1
  8. george mattar

    DON and Steve are correct with their comments. In the late 70s, I went on a muscle car hunting trip before anyone else was doing it in western PA. PA is full of muscle cars. Remember, it was home to Ammon R. Smith Chevrolet Co. in York and Yenko. Anyway, we went to a farm in the sticks between State College, where I was attending Penn State, and Pittsburgh on some back road. There, next to a barn was a rotting 69 RR conv in Vitamin C. Black top. The car looked worse than this Jersey example, more than 30 years ago. The guy wanted $600. I balked. What a dumb college student I was. Anyway, in the mid 80s, muscle cars got popular again because cars were boring and slow. Cars are still boring today, but not slow. If muscle cars are dying, then why is the Internet full of stories bombarding me every day by bloggers who found this, found that, this car has a rare example under the hood. More times than not, the writers are uninformed and I see numerous glaring mistakes. Being a retired editor of Hemmings Muscle Machines, where we actually proof read our work before publication, I can say this. I follow auction prices daily and Mopar prices are coming back, not to the heyday of 2005 to 2006, when not even show quality Hemis were fetching $500,000. A very low mileage 71 Hemi Challenger, owned by a very astute collector, Tom Lembeck, just sold last weekend at Mecum for $352,000. 100 percent original car and had a sheltered life. But he also refused $550,000 for a 440 Six Barrel 71 Cuda conv. and $4.8 million for his gray 71 Hemi Cuda conv. I lived the muscle car era and we bought these cars in high school for $1,000 from original owners when gas went to the unheard price of 50 cents a gal in 1973. I bought a very nice orig. owner 70 RR in FE5 loaded with options like N96 for $1,200. Drove it every day in snow, rain, wind. It was just a car. Sold it for $950. Truth be told today’s even garden variety Challengers will blow any old muscle car away, but they are boring and full of cheap plastic and are all the same because you cannot select individual options like you once could. I told a young kid the other day that a tinted windshield cost $10 on a 67 Corvette. He just looked at me. Radios cost extra, power brakes, power steering, etc. That’s what made for such rare cars, not for what equipment they were ordered with, but for what they didn’t have. With all the hype, this red RR will sell it and it will be restored, but yes, it will cost far more to restore than it is worth. Remember, any tangible item is only worth what someone is willing to pay.

    Like 7
    • AMCFAN

      George. Yes the things we passed up when we were in college. I lived the 1980’s and remember. I bought a Red White and Blue AMC Rebel Machine and drove it home for $350 in 1986.

      My son who is also in college now is one of the rare kids that is into cars. He is specific like kids his age and is after vintage 1990 Hondas and about any 1970’s and 80’s Japanese cars. To him they are old cars like the muscle era cars we had.

      Why would a young man with limited funds want to pay real money for this POS that needs everything? What 1968-1974 muscle car (you being a former writer) suggest for someone starting out. You can’t. Prices for inefficient Detroit iron start at prices that put off any young person. A Dodge Dart with a slant six?

      I will not say one is better than the other but for my son and his large group of friends. Honda Civics are their thing. One car in particular makes 422 HP at the wheel and as long as they are driving easy gets 40 mpg. Parts they get on the cheap local in the yards and from ebay. Complete gasket sets bolts and all are like $36.

      To buy a 1968-69 Camaro body full of rust may be $6-$7000. What kid has that kind of money and drive it to work and go to school?
      None. No kid has the drive or determination for a four year project. Life is in the fast lane now. To pay $30K for done 1969 Camaro……and daily drive it? Kids don’t do that. $30K for a Mitsubishi EVO. I see that.

      I attend import meets (and see this first hand) with my son and his friends and the last show (which is the same venue as the Mopar Nationals) sold tickets online only and was sold out a month BEFORE the show. It is by far one of the largest grossing events gates open at 7:00 and at 2:00 people were still lined up coming in.

      The muscle era was your and my era. Not theirs. The only people buying are in their 50’s and above. The cars won’t ever go away. Their owners will and unless the prices fall back to earth. No one will want to be their care takers. The economy and climate are different now than the care free 1970’s and 80’s.

  9. Walter

    A lot of good points made here. These cars were cheap in the 80s. I bought a 1969 Charger RT for 500$ in late 81 maybe early 82. Later I owned a 340 Demon. Don’t remember the price but doubt it was much over $1000, probably less. I passed on a 67 GTO the lady wanted $1500 for. I still kick myself. Like the 2 cars that teenage version of me owned, many of these cars didn’t survive the 80s. Kids and cars don’t mix well, as a general rule.

    Also, to be honest, these weren’t always the highest quality builds. Even in S. Fla with no one even thinking of salting the roads they rusted away fast. In 1981 that Charger was only 12 years old but the trunk area was pretty bad.

    I see no sign of muscle car prices collapsing. In fact, they seem to be ridiculously high. The one here might not get 15K but it will probably come close. I’ve seen countless Chargers that seem to be Mostly Old Parts And Rust bring 15K or more.

    In fact, I’d argue the high prices of muscle cars has dragged the prices of “old cars” in general upwards. When mid70s Cutlasses and etc., cars that helped bring down the US auto industry, are “collectible” and bring upwards of 20K, I’d say the market is trong.

    Like 4

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