Original 360: 1976 Plymouth Road Runner

By the mid-1970s, the Plymouth Road Runner suffered from the same issues that had afflicted so many performance models from the era. In a bid to comply with emission regulations, these cars had dumped a bunch of power and performance. Compounding this was the fact that the changes that were forced upon them by these regulations stole some of the smoothness that was a hallmark of these V8s. The owner of this 1976 Plymouth Road Runner has attempted to recapture some of the performance and smoothness that had gone missing, and the result is a car that sounds fantastic. He is moving on to a new project, so he has decided to part with the Plymouth. It is located in Lillington, North Carolina, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding currently sits at $6,400, but the reserve isn’t met.

By 1976, the Road Runner badge had found its way onto the Volare as a trim and graphics package. I personally think that the result was a crisp and stylish looking vehicle in a 1970s context. This Spitfire Orange example appears to be in good condition. The paint is consistent across the entire car, while the graphics look free from cracks or lifting issues. There are a few chips and marks on the car, but nothing too severe. The ’76 Volare developed a reputation for horrendous rust issues, but these don’t seem to have afflicted this car. My theory is that if a car like this has survived for this long without those problems, then it must be a good one. The distinctive body additions like the spoilers and window louvers are still in place and look to be good. The trim and chrome appear to be in good condition, and the same seems to be true of the glass. The wheels aren’t original, but they definitely give the vehicle a tougher stance. The enormous hood scoop also isn’t original, and indicates that maybe this is a car with a bit more performance than was available in 1976.

I guess that the 1976 Road Runner was like so many “performance” offerings of this era. It showed promise but was a shadow of the muscle car that had been available only a few short years before. If the Road Runner had one saving grace when compared to other cars that suffered through this era, at least it was never lumbered with a 4-cylinder engine under the hood. Up until 1979, the Plymouth was offered as a V8 only. In 1976, buyers could choose either a 318ci or a 360ci V8. This car features the larger unit, which is backed by a 3-speed TorqueFlite transmission. That was the only one available in concert with the 360 because the 4-speed was restricted to the smaller motor. Power steering and power brakes were also part of the package. An indication of how heavily the new rules had bitten into cars like this was glaringly obvious when you looked at power and performance figures. The 360 produced 170hp and pushed the Road Runner through the ¼ mile in 16.9 seconds. The engine bay doesn’t present that well on this car, but below the surface is an engine that promises some reasonable performance improvements. It has been treated to a new Edelbrock carburetor, while the original exhaust has made way for a set of headers and a dual exhaust system. A more aggressive camshaft has been added, and the result is an engine that sounds tough and strong. I have included a video at the bottom of this article. You will get a chance to hear the 360 running and will hear how good it sounds. Other recent additions include a new master cylinder, new brake lines, an alternator, and a new set of tires. The owner states that the car drives very well.

The Plymouth’s interior is tidy, and it has been lifted by the recent installation of a new carpet set. The upholstered surfaces are generally in good order. There is some wrinkling on the driver’s door trim, the console lid is warped, and the dash pad is discolored. These problems should be easy to fix, but the rest of the plastic is in good order. There is a set of Bosch gauges hanging under the dash to monitor the health of the 360 and an enormous tach mounted on the steering column. There are not many options fitted to this vehicle, and therein lies one reason why the owner has decided to part with the Plymouth. It doesn’t feature air conditioning, and this is one option that the owner’s wife requires. As a result, the Road Runner is now on the market.

The Malaise Era was not a great one for performance car enthusiasts. It was a time when the performance levels of the great V8 were strangled. It would take the industry years to regain the lost ground and require sophisticated fuel-injection and electronic engine management systems to achieve this. Cars like this ’76 Plymouth Volare Road Runner were about as good as it got at that point. This one is a nice example, and the owner has made a decent attempt to try to make it live up to the performance credentials that the name suggests. It seems that this is a car that has struck a chord with potential owners because there have been 21 bids submitted up to this point. Is this one that you would consider bidding on?

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Comments

  1. Brad Moffitt

    Very interested, is it still available?

  2. Arby

    I think Will-E-Coyote wins this round.

    Like 8
    • Dave

      All depends on how that 360 was massaged. All it takes is a credit card, tools, and one weekend to bring it up to 340 performance levels.

      Like 13
  3. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    “Vo-larr’-aye, wo, wo, wo, wo . . . “

    Like 10
  4. DrillnFill

    I like it, Volare or not it sounds sweet and looks pretty decent. What else were you gonna get in ‘76, a Granada? 🤣

    Like 15
    • Steve R

      Try a Trans Am. They were available with a 455 and a 4spd. To me, that decision is no contest.

      Steve R

      Like 15
    • piston poney

      we got one sitting in the back yard no trans but it still has the inline 6 in it LOL, it was slow when the trans was in it now it’s even slow but faster than it was new LOL

      Like 3
  5. Will Irby

    I’m not too young to remember that the AAR Cuda never came with that hood treatment. They all came with the NACA duct scoop.

    Like 7
  6. Al_Bundy Member

    The ’76 TA was good looking but a total slug. 16.5 in the 1/4 for a big block 4 speed is pretty sad… The 360 auto was only .5 slower and 3k lower in price. No performance without the after-market during the muscle malaise…

    Like 11
  7. Will Irby

    It looks similar to the T/A scoop, but I don’t think those had the crease between the two scoops like this one does.

    Like 3
  8. Troy s

    Nothing to radical looking about it, hood scoop is in character for what it is. So is the built 360, sounds pretty sharp.
    It’s a hot rod Dodge, either this or go drive one dead stock. There’s a big difference.

    Like 4
    • piston poney

      yeah speed

      Like 3
    • Will Irby

      I agree; I don’t mind the scoop on this car; it fits in with the era. Also, that boundary-layer type scoop actually works pretty well. I used the AAR type NACA duct scoop on my ’65 Barracuda; I’m sure there are varying opinions on that, but it works for me. There are a couple of shots in these pics from SEMA that show a good view of the scoop:

      https://forgeline.com/customer-gallery/will-irby

      Like 2
      • Neal in Boston

        Scoop or not, THAT is one badass barracuda custom!

        Like 2
      • Will Irby

        Thanks, Neal. I have owned it since ’78, when I bought it for $375 and dropped in the 340 that I built in ’75 for my ’66 Valiant. I ran it with the 340 until 2015, when I upgraded to an aluminum 433 3rd gen hemi, Tremec 6-speed with PPG sequential shift conversion, and numerous other fun items.

        Like 1
      • Troy s

        Great car there, Will. The picture of it from the front, as you’d see it coming up behind you, looks menacing as heck! Any quarter mile times or an idea of what it could do?
        Again, that’s a great looking car.

      • Will Irby

        Thanks, Troy. It’s set up for road racing, so not ideal for hooking up off the line. It has independent rear suspension with a Hammerhead center section and differential cooler, Detroit Speed front suspension, active shock control, etc. It has a Tremec 6-speed with PPG sequential shift conversion, and the ratios are not ideal for off-the-line acceleration. The camshaft is a “road racing profile” that is focused more on a flat torque curve than maximum peak power. The initial dyno run (before any tuning of the Hilborn injection system, and before the dry sump system was added) was started at 3,700 rpm, and the torque number at 3,700 was already at over 92% of the 596 ft-lb peak. Horsepower peak was 641 at 6,400; that should improve after dyno tuning and controller setup. It will see a lot of street duty, with Vintage Air and audio system.

        Like 1
  9. Claudio

    It is fugly volare for crying out loud

    Lipstick on a pig 🐷

    350 pound whale with high heels and plastic nails

    The designers had to be on drugs

    Send it to the crusher with the wonky fiero

    Like 4
    • Jcs

      Claudio, I think that you need to get laid.

      Like 24
      • piston poney

        agreed

        Like 6
    • Jerry Member

      Hey I like the Fiero GT!!

      Like 3
  10. Lynn Member

    Fine Corinthian leather

    Like 3
    • bone

      That was the Cordoba ……..

  11. JBA from SC

    I had a friend buy this exact car new in 1976… in order to get it to “smoke a tire”, he rigged up a system that would spray bleach on the tires prior to him doing a burn out… it was weird, but somehow it worked…

    Like 2
  12. Jim

    I figured there would be a lot of naysayers dissing this Volare Road Runner….and I guessed right. Sometimes, though, you have to put things in perspective. This was 1976. Muscle cars in the true sense were a thing of the past. The Volare version was still a good looking car and this one is in very nice condition. Don’t dis what you don’t understand.

    Like 6
    • Will Irby

      Very True, Jim! I was working at a summer job as a mechanic when these were new, and a lady brought one in for an electrical issue with the sunroof. It was a beautiful blue color, with a slightly lighter blue interior, and loaded. I gave her a ride back to her office in the car, and I was impressed with it. At the time, I had a ’66 Valiant with a 340 and 4-speed, and was looking for a nicer car to transplant that drivetrain. I thought about trying to find one like hers for that purpose, but it just didn’t make economic sense.

      Like 2
  13. Woody

    These were late to the show and had to have loud exhaust and bright paint to get noticed,they looked better black. The hood treatment is Dodge Demon from 1970’s ,I still have a Demon scoop it’s functional dual air inlet and looks good on any Mopar.

    Like 4
    • Will Irby

      That’s it! I couldn’t remember if that scoop was from the Demon or the Duster Twister, but now I remember that the Twister had the twin scoops, one on each side of the hood.

      Like 2
  14. dave Graham

    The hood scoop is the exact same one that my 1972 Dodge Demon 340 had.

    Like 1
  15. Mark Bowser

    You would have to pay me to take your Volare. No value or collectability.

    • Jerry Member

      You’re wrong.
      The future looks like it might be electric cars….IF…..that happens and other states eventually follow Californias no more new gas engines by 2035 everything halfway sporty looking with a V8 will be collectable.

      Like 2
  16. Guardstang

    I know 75 is the last year a Road Runners VIN has RR in it– Do these F-bodys have any Road Runner cartoon decals?

    • DON

      They do , they are on the side stripes

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