Matching Numbers? 1971 Plymouth 383 Road Runner

This Gen II 1971 Plymouth Road Runner probably hasn’t had a good beep-beep! in some time. Seemingly loved by some and unloved by others (hate is too strong a term), this generation of Mopar B-Body can create a polarizing juxtaposition with its predecessor. The story on this one is light, so let’s check the visuals and see what we have. This Road Runner is located in Los Angeles, California and is available, here on craigslist for $22,000.

I had a real thing for the Gen I Road Runner, especially the ’68, it was exactly what Plymouth intended it to be – rough and ready. In late ’70, when I first spied the new ’71 model, I thought “Yuk”. Time, as is often the case has ameliorated my view, and I hold the Gen II in much higher esteem than I did so many years ago. How did the buying public view the change? Based on sales numbers, not very well. Sales numbers for the ’70 model year were about 41K, a sharp decline from ’69’s high watermark of 81K copies. The redesigned ’71 model saw only about 14K Road Runners who found owners – ouch! Was it styling, insurance premium surcharges, horsepower reductions, a tiring of muscle car madness, or all of it combined? Who knows, probably a mix.

Mopar’s tried and true 383 CI V8, now in its final year, continued to be the stalwart Road Runner powerplant. HP was decreased from 335 gross to 300 gross, ostensibly due to a compression ratio decrease. Changes were in the wind, forcing auto manufacturers to comply with the newly legislated Clean Air Act of 1970. And leaded gas was verbotten. It wasn’t going away, yet, but its demise was in the works as auto engine designers jumped on the bandwagon to design motors that would run on low-lead and no-lead fuel. This Road Runner’s claimed matching number 383 CI engine doesn’t require gasoline because it, and its matching TorqueFlite automatic transmission, are out of the car. There’s no image, just a shot of its number, so there’s no telling what shape it’s in.

Exterior-wise, this one-time Bahama Yellow specimen is not half bad. It’s a lifelong California car, so the moderate climate has been kind to it, more so than whoever went overboard with the gray primer and covered most of it up. There is no noted rust but the exterior images aren’t very comprehensive. Both bumpers and the grille look fair and it appears as if all of the glass is in place and not damaged.

The interior is another matter as it’s quite damaged, probably the sun having some culpability for the upholstery’s shredded condition. The carpet’s up, the floors are bare and there is some surface rust noted. Hopefully, for the next owner, the rust is no more than surface corrosion, or what is sometimes euphemistically referred to as “invasive surface rust” which I guess is what happens when surface rust breaks bad. There’s a rag or something on the dashboard, perhaps trying to either protect the dash pad or hiding the damage already done.

The seller suggests that this car is complete and will be an “easy restoration” – maybe so and maybe not, as stated many times before, the devil’s in the details and this listing is not exactly frothing with detail. I did a double-take on the price but I recall a comment made by a reader who reviewed this 1972 Road Runner post earlier in the week and he stated, correctly, that the perceived values of this generation Mopar are ascendant. That being the case, I predict someone will jump on this example at its price or something close to it, wouldn’t you agree?


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  1. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    No comments. Well, I’m not a Mopar fan myself, but a Nephew had a Sebring of the same vintage and color back in the late 70’s. His had a 318 and 904. I drove it a few times. It was basically a dog, but was okay for puttering around in. The body and paint were excellent as was the black interior. Now the thing about these Chrysler products that was always an odd thing to me was, if you wanted to put a big engine in one you also had to change the K member (cross member) as the oil pans were designed different. That’s all from me.
    God bless America

    Like 4
    • Tony Primo

      It was primer grey?

      Like 3
    • Stinger

      Big block and small block K-members are the same. Slant six K-members and Hemi K-members are different, so go ahead and swap in that big block, just need to change motor mounts (obviously).

      Like 4
    • Stinger

      I might also add, that you maybe thinking of the A-body Barracuda / Darts which did use a Different K-member between small and big block, but on 71 B & E-body vintage cars, they are the same.

      Like 3
  2. TimS Member

    I like the original and fuselage designs equally. With the right buyer it could be a cool ride. Meaning someone who can do most of the work themselves, given the ask.

    Like 2
  3. Snafuracer

    My favorite style of Roadrunner! Love the aggressive look of this body style!

    Like 3
  4. jerry z

    My favorite RR/GTX body style but $22K for a basketcase? Unless the car is 100% rustfree (most likely not), it might fetch high teens. Maybe.

    Like 6
  5. Slantasaurus

    Don’t believe the horsepower ratings in 1971, the 383 was exactly the same as it was in 68-70. If you take the time to look up the rating you can see how Chrysler played with the numbers to help beat insurance surcharges for cars over 300hp. 1968-70 383 was rated at 335hp @ 5200rpm, 1971 was rated at 300hp @ 4800rpm. Wind that sucker out and those ponies were still there, your insurance man just didn’t need to know that.

    Like 2
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      I’ve heard your argument before but it doesn’t account for the fact the compression ratio of the 383 engine went from 9.5 in ’70 to 8.5 in ’71. A full point is going to clip some power.


      Like 2
  6. Bobby

    I had a purple 73 340 postal grip 4 sp

    Like 1
  7. Smitty

    Why did mopar make so many of these muscle cars automatic on the column? That just kills it for me

    Like 1
    • HpLisa

      Mopar automatics outrun manuals on the track. Set up properly you can just leave them in drive and let the transmission do the gear changing for you. There is a counter weight in the tail shaft you can change to get it to shift at basically what ever rpm you want. The 727 is a great and easy to build transmission.

      Like 1
  8. Melton Mooney

    I drove a triple black ’71 440 sixpack 4-speed dana 60 roadrunner once. But the guy wanted $2,200 so I passed on it.

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