Face Off: ‘71 Road Runner VS ‘75 Porsche 911S

Face Off - Road Runner vs 911

Here at Barn Finds, we know everyone has their preferences, from sports teams to sports cars. And we know that translates to some of you being die-hard loyalists to American muscle cars and trucks while others prefer to stock their garages with the finest sports and touring machines Europe and Asia had to offer. That’s why we’re testing out a new series called “Face Off,” where we pit two classics against each other and look for your commentary as to which one gets your blood pumping a little bit faster. Today’s Face Off involves a 1971 Plymouth Road Runner listed here on eBay for $10,500 or best offer and a 1975 Porsche 911S currently bid to $22,500 here on eBay. Let the showdown begin!

1971 Plymouth Road Runner

For Mopar fans, 1971 was a pretty decent year for the Road Runner, especially compared to what came next. That year’s 383 engine may have experienced a slight drop in power, but it still packed 300 b.h.p. and could run on regular gas. The next model year would see dramatic changes in the engine lineup to meet new emissions requirements, and the 383 was replaced with a larger but lower-performing engine, marking the gradual decline of the muscle car as performance was traded away for fuel economy. This particular example may have some rust in the floors, but it also features the desirable 4-speed manual transmission to make the most of the de-tuned 383. And with a wider rear track than the previous year’s model, handling capabilities were enhanced slightly as well.

Porsche 911S

But when we talk about handling, it’s difficult to pit a brawny Road Runner against a Porsche 911. That’s where 911s tend to shine, along with offering decent scoot for the dollar. However, even Germany’s flagship offering didn’t escape the emissions hammer and 1975 – 1977 2.7L cars are generally considered less desirable for that reason and more. Reports of head studs pulling out of the block, magnesium cases warping and failing valve guides were all symptoms of 2.7L ownership and it dogged Porsche for years. However, the good news is that if you see one still on the road, it’s likely been significantly overhauled like this example (if not simply swapped to the improved 3L engine). This one has already exceeding a price point considered expensive for an undesirable year of the 911, confirming the rise in prices isn’t slowing down soon.

Plymouth Road Runner

Since this is our first show-down, we’re eager to hear what you consider the pluses and minuses of each car. Both of them are worthwhile additions to any project car fleet, and the 911 is much farther along in its restoration. If the rebuilt engine checks out, it could be a solid investment. Although later Road Runners with the smaller 383 aren’t super desirable, sourcing one with the factory 4-speed appeals to me as an affordable and entertaining weekend cruiser. Although it needs bodywork and a new interior, I suspect it would all be worth it the first time you hear the familiar “Beep-Beep!” after pushing its cartoon-character horn button. Which one of these emissions-era hot rods would you choose – the rebuilt 911S or ripe-for-resto Road Runner?

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Comments

  1. Mitchell Gildea

    I’ll take the road runner

  2. Ken kittleson

    Fuselage-bodied Mopars left me cold even when new, I’ll take the Porsche, Butzi’s iconic design still holds up after 50 years. And then there’s that go-kart handling…

  3. Jim Leathem

    Theres NO comparison..Have had 18 Porsches during my 86 years and remember..
    There is NO substitute

  4. John E.

    The Porsche’ any day of the week and three times on Sunday, only because Sunday seems to run longer then the rest of the week. Handling of a Porsche against a stud of the Roadrunner is like the the difference of sterering with or w/out power-steering, no comparisons. The 3L engine for the Porsche’ is far better then driving in the fear that your little car is falling apart behind you as your crusing down the highway for sure. In any case for this “Face-Off” the Porsche’ has my vote.

  5. Dave Wright

    This is a poor comparison, a dry sump DOHC, fuel injected, sodium cooled valve, forged crank with incredible suspension and brakes compared with a car that shares most parts with a pickup and costs 1/2 the price……..there is nothing really wrong with either, just not in the same class

  6. Paul

    I’m a bit of a cross over, liking both sports cars and an occasional muscle car.

    Here I’d have to go with the Porsche as it has always been a favorite of mine.

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      I’m the same way, Paul – I do love the P-cars but old-school Mopars are among my favorite vehicles of any vintage.

  7. Left Shark

    How are these two even remotely comparable?

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      It’s a bit of a fun we’re having, Left Shark – we all love and cherish different cars, so we thought it’d be interesting to see which one our readers would prefer to take home. Personally, I am a bit obsessed with German cars (as my personal collection reveals), but I’d take the Road Runner in this case – I loved the look of the raked windshield and rear haunches!

      • Dave Wright

        Jeff, You are a bit younger than many of us, the 71’s were never really popular even when new. They were past the great mussle car era for the most part, 68-69 were the pinical. Not long after this car was built the fastest american car was the Dodge little red wagon pickup…..it was faster than the Corvettes of the era. By 71, these were getting heavy, smogged up and pretty ordinary……..with few exceptions…..like Dave H said, a 69 would be a different issue.

  8. Dave H

    Assume the Porsche is free. It is still WAY overpriced
    However, the ’71 is one of the less desirable Road Runners, so that’s not really a good choice either. (a ’69 RR, on the other hand….)
    I’ve owned muscle cars and Porsches. Muscle all the way!

  9. The Walrus

    I’ll admit, that unlike Ken K, the Fuselage Mopar bodys are my favorite. The ’71 and ’72 Satellite/RoadRunner/GTX being my favorite followed closely by the C Bodies (69-71 Sport Fury (GT) and the Imperial Coupes in particular).

    I also have a soft spot for all 911’s, particularly the iconic non-targa bodies with more upright headlights through 1988. but these mid ’70’s cars remind me of the Rolling Stones album ‘Sucking in the Seventies’.

    1971 was the beginning of the downfall of American Car dominance and quality. Things weren’t too bad, yet. The same can be said of the established imports. The nadir for all makes is, in my opinion around 1975, which doesn’t endear the 911 in this comparison. Factor in that the 911 is over twice the price, there is room to either put the RR back close to original, or resto mod it with some Wilwood/Hotchkiss parts and have something that could legitimately run with a stock ’75 911. If this were an ’85 911 I think the conversation is different. But keep the ’75. I’d take the Roadrunner and play money.

  10. geomechs geomechs Member

    I’m more into the American iron but I sure wouldn’t turn a Porsche down. Trouble is, if I had a Porsche, I’d have to change my general attitude and become a (pointy thing on a porcupine).

  11. Horse Radish

    I like the red car better.
    A way better color for a sports car

    @Dave Wright
    pinnacle

    • Dave Wright

      Thankyou

  12. Gopar

    While some Roadrunners are more desirable than others, in my opinion all Roadrunners are desirable cars (especially when you toss in a pistol-grip 4-speed). These old mopars epitomize the muscle car era and are well worth restoring. Since most of the 60’s models have already been snatched up by collectors, the 70’s models are looking better all the time!
    As far as Porches go, they’re just not for me.

  13. Left Shark

    If you’re going to compare two cars, shouldn’t they at least be similar in price and performance?

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Left Shark (great name, by the way – was it you who was standing behind Katy Perry at the Super Bowl ;-)), we’re planning to do more of these, so keep your eyes peeled for future comparos. Cheers!

  14. The Chucker

    Price aside, this comparison is akin to choosing my favorite weapon between a maul and a scalpel. Both would get the job done, depending on the situation at hand. Is there anyway I can choose both?

    @Jim Leathem: I’ve also heard it said there’s no substitute for….cubic inches.

  15. jim s

    i am going with the roadrunner either the yellow one listed here or what looks like a blue one in the background of the 911 photos. no not really as i like daily driver and i do not see either one of these being one. the runner needs a complete rebuild and the 911 needs a rebuild on the transmission and has a racing history. to much time/money. but i do like the heads up “face off ” idea. i think, in a way, we started to do one on the spitfire vs midget from the other day, great idea.

    • jlschmidt

      That’s a same-era blue Charger in the background. I’d take it!

  16. Dolphin Member

    I get this comparo—-affordable vintage US Mopar with big V8 vs. affordable (relatively speaking) iconic Euro techno-sports with small (relatively speaking) engine.

    But I would not buy this Porsche no matter how much I wanted a 911. These 1974-1977 in-between cars have notoriously weak, unreliable engines from a time when Porsche was trying to deal with tough emissions requirements.

    The 911 seller talks about lots of money being spent on the engine, but any buyer would be well advised to speak directly to the shop that did the work, find out what was done, and compare that with what Bruce Anderson’s book says these engines need.

    Then drive the car and see whether the underwhelming power that these 2.7 engines typically make is OK for you. I have never found them worth bothering with. They have always had the cheapest 911 prices of the era for a reason. Not that many months ago the price being asked for it here would have been laughable. Save up and get an SC, or better still a Carrera 3.2.

    • james g

      or even better get a clean 74 911 then swap the swap the 2.7 for the 3.2 leave the the same gearbox in it will fly at 20 mpg with the 74 transaxle

      • james g

        and swap those ugly wheels for fuch’s and add a duck tail to it

  17. Mark W

    Very difficult decision…go fast in a straight or hit the curves? Either can be fun. I think I’ll have to choose…BOTH!

    • Dave Wright

      Interesting idea but the specs show a 1971 383 charger 0-60 at 8.1 seconds and the 75 911S at 6.6……….

  18. jimbosidecar

    Not a difficult decision for me. I never liked the fuselage bodied Roadrunners or their companions. So, I’d take the Porsche. But had it been a 68 -70 Roadrunner, it would have been a different choice for sure.

  19. coolHluke

    Roadrunner then resto it MadMax style …buy a NA Miata to drive around those curves while your restomoddin that Mopar Aussie style….beep beep …….

  20. jlschmidt

    I had a 71 Satellite Sebring Plus with the 383 and a canopy vinyl roof. Best car ever. I traded it off for a 72 Satellite Sebring Plus. It had the 400. They ruined that car in one model year. The 72 was a real POS. The cassette player fried itself at less than 1k miles. The thermostat went bad at <5k. The push rod for the fuel pump was not case hardened so the pump went at <8k. I blew three freeze plugs outta the block at <10k. Traded it off for a 74 Ramcharger 360.
    All that being said, I'd buy the 71 Road Runner and clone my 71 Sebring Plus. Love that 71-72 body style.

    • The Walrus

      Agreed. I was brought home from the hospital in a ’71 Satellite Sebring Plus. From a pure design perspective, the ’71/’72’s are the best looking B-Bodies. I don’t understand why that has not become the consensus. The ’68-’70’s are such incongruous designs. From a given angle they appear to be designed by a committee that couldn’t agree on anything. The later ’73/’74’s suffer from ugly regulatory design compromises. The ’75 is a different car altogether (Fury) and the ’76-’80’s leave the once noble RoadRunner to die a slow death as a Volare. I guess beauty is in the eye (and heart) of the beholder.

      I think the opinion of the ’71/’72’s is generational. In my experience in talking with people at car shows and the like, it seems that those who were of driving age circa 1971 hold this body in the highest contempt. This was such a radical design change (for the era) that coincided (through no fault of the car) with the end of an era. I guess I wonder if the sight of this design triggers alarm bells in those who don’t like it because they see it as an omen of a couple decades of bad cars coming out of Detroit.

      • Moparman Member

        I beg to disagree, for myself, I WAS driving age when these came out, and I like them just as much as those that preceded them. I particularly thought that the Sebring Plus models w/ the body color/argent combination & halo vinyl roof were some of the best looking (although I was never really fond of vinyl coverings!) I DO agree with your statement on the 73/74 versions. As a diehard “car nut”, there were things that I groused about, but since nothing remains static, acceptance eventually came. Now that I’m older (and wiser?) I have a much deeper appreciation of many things automotive from that era! BTW: I say, go with what you know, so for me, it would be the Road Runner! :-)

  21. Jeff M

    While that era RR has minimal following in general,
    the bodystyle looks particularly menacing in black, lowered,
    and with big meats front & rear to fill those bulging fenders.

  22. john Newell

    Yellow Roadrunner hands down. First of all, the Roadrunner was not down on power. The difference between the earlier horsepower ratings and the ratings in 1971 was merely how the engines were tested. Prior to 1971, the horsepower was rated at the engine with accessories off. For 1971, the engine horsepower (and torque) was measured at the rear wheels with accessories on. So most of the 1971 cars were more powerful than their predecessors, not slower.

    The emissions were the reason for the changes not gas mileage. The gas mileage factor didn’t kick in until the oil embargo in 1973. At that point both the US government and the Canadian governments gave car owners permission to remove the smog equipment from their cars permanently and owners who did that were guaranteed immunity from prosecution for having done so in perpetuity. The intent was to increase gas mileage for those cars. It didn’t work. My smog equipment therefore is still in nearly mint condition though somewhat flattened as it is in the bottom of the Keele Valley Landfill site.

    What that means is the Roadrunner is going to be a car that is easy to put straight with no unusual engine issues compared to the Porche that could have lots of issues that even when dealt with correctly will not be anything like stock or anything the factory originally intended and you’d still be in a little wee car that you can’t carry much in.

    The Roadrunner by contrast could have a lot done to it and still be period correct according to design intentions. That design intention was that all two door hardtop cars of the era were built to be street racers. Plus it’s big enough for two in the back seat – horizontally which was what back seats were for in those cars. A Porsche owner would presumably rent a hotel room featuring beds with magic fingers but the adventure value would be taking a nose dive.

    Personally I’m not a fan of the 1971 and later bodies because they look so bulky. But they still look better than the ’75 Porsche by a mile. That isn’t to say Mopar iron wasn’t cheap and tinny. it was. That’s one of the reasons I went with a Rebel Machine instead of a 1969 GTX. Chrysler had a reputation for building cars that were all motor and not much else. And it was true. They looked fabulous but really they were poorly engineered once you subtracted the drive train.

    So the Porsche could handle better but from an engineering point of view they were just as much a piece of junk as the Roadrunner. But again, you can do so much now with a Roadrunner and have a fantastic car – way better than new. The Porsche by comparison would still be an underpowered go-kart.

    Lastly, throwing a shift in an under-powered Porsche is not nearly as much fun as throwing that same shift using a pistol-grip Hurst shifter in a 500+ hp Roadrunner coming off the line and pulling the wheels out of a smoky burnout. NO COMPARISON.

  23. Brian C

    Having owned numerous 944, 911, 928, 924, and 968 Porsches and only one Mopar,….you would think that I would most likely vote for Porsche. However,….My Mopar product was a somewhat rare bird,………..a Superbird. So,…..If I was given the choice Today of having ALL my Porsches back,……or….my one Mopar product,…………..I am afraid I would have to go with the Superbird,……but only because of its current market value guys. I bought my Superbird for $13,000 in Dallas, TX. (I think it was the early 80s) and a friend of mine talked me out of it shortly thereafter for a whopping $500 profit.

  24. Scottymac

    I’ve always thought Porsche built some of the ugliest cars on the road, with some wicked road manners to boot. Everyone is afraid to tell the emperor he has no clothes. I’m not a MoPar fan, but in this case, I’d have to take the Runner.

  25. crazychevy

    Even free is over priced for a unibody nopar and being over 6ft tall I have never been a fan of the porsche!!! So for Me the answer is neither .

  26. Don Barzini

    First, I love the concept of this feature and this is a fun pairing. While I love the 1960s Road Runners, this model year leaves me cold. I’d go with the 911 even though they’re not my favorite sports car. I’d run it hard and put it away wet. Then I’d sell it six months later.

  27. james g

    the 75 911s in just like the regular 911 of the time not much different

  28. David

    The 911 hands down and going away!

  29. Woodie Man

    As Walrus so aptly surmised, many of us of driving age in 1971 did in fact look at this generation Mopar as a bastardized vehicle. I am sanguine on the issue of American vs European owning a ’47 Ford and a ’70 Porsche. I buy what I like when I can afford it and have owned both European and American for a freakin long time!

    That said had I the money I might put it into the Road Runner if only to restore it to it’s pistol grip sliding into the seventies glory. Still a mighty ugly car. But a mid seventies Porsche……well I’m so prejudiced against any P car between 1971 and an eighties SC that I would pass on it………..CIS or no CIS. Theres a reason why its running Webers now.

    Interesting idea ….the Face Off………maybe keeping the prices comparable might, like hanging, concentrate the mind.

  30. Cameron Bater UK

    Road Runner, not just because I love Muscle but because of the companies Racing Heratige at NASCAR with the SUperbird.

  31. pontiactivist

    Being a complete miscle car guy its the Road Runner for me. Not that I wouldn’t mind the Porsche. There is something about the sound of a big american v-8! Not to mention the sensation of all that torque comong to life when you stab the go pedal to the floor.
    Of course I would like it a lot more if it was a Pontiac of some sorts.

    • Cameron Bater UK

      I agree. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind a porche but I feel like I’d never drive it incase I ditched it (not bloodly likely though, we don’t ditch anymore) I’d prefer to go through the perly gates smoking tyres than with my skin smoking.

  32. MikeH

    ’71-’74 aside, Porsche represents pretty much the top of affordable technology, excluding Ferrari, etc, while the Plymouth represents a huge engine in a stone age chassis topped by a butt ugly body.

    • Rancho Bella

      yep………..

  33. Doug M. (West Coast) Member

    I agree with MikeH completely: I’ll go with the PORSCHE.

  34. Collin Vincent

    Id take the Roadrunner…would be a great stablemate for my ’71 Satellite.

  35. Scott Allison

    It all comes down to this..

    You can get laid in the Road Runner. Not so easy in a Porsche ( I did manage to do it in a 77 El Camino).

    Lot’s of Porsche’s still around. RR’s you don’t see often on the road.

  36. Gary

    Of the two my choice would have to be the 911. As much as I like the look of the big classic Mopar rides I have never owned or driven the Road Runner. A good friend owned a ’71 911S Targa back in the late 70’s, I drove that a few times and have to say nothing I have driven since could compare to that ride and handling. He referred to it as the “European Carrera”

  37. gunningbar

    I dont like the p cars after the 356…they remind me of my vw bugs but not in a good way…trailing throttle oversteer is an inherent flaw and the owners are …well…..you know…..I ll take the rd runner AND save a ton of cash.

  38. Woodie Man

    As a P car owner……I resemble THAT remark!

  39. Barry Thomas

    Road Runner hand’s down. I bought a new ’71 Satellite Sebring Plus as soon as I graduated university. Would have loved a RR, but this was just when the insurance companies twigged to the hi-po muscle cars, so insurance rates were real high. Settled for the next best thing. Always loved this design.
    Barry Thomas’ “Wheel to Wheel” blog

  40. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Very interesting Face Off to me, personally.

    After selling my fun car, I have been contemplating my next one. I am thinking about going back to a Mopar, and this is exactly the model I am considering. And, I have always wanted to own a mid to late 70’s 911.

    It will be interesting to read the comments.

  41. RoughDiamond

    Road Runner as I’m a big fan of all American Muscle cars, but especially those that go “Beep Beep”.

  42. Justin

    I wonder what happened to these cars?

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