Parked In ’89! 1977 Plymouth Road Runner

Describing a 1977 Plymouth Road Runner as a sub-model of a Volaré feels wrong, but that’s where the much-revered and feared muscle car model ended up in 1977, as evidenced in this original sales brochure on showing what looks like this feature car with as a “Front Runner with optional Road Runner and Super Pak Packages.” What on earth is a Front Runner? Apparently the Road Runner was one variation of the Front Runner (available only in this car’s Splitfire Orange) which itself was one of several Fun Runner packages. No “Rum Runner” or “Dope Runner” packages are listed, though perhaps those were dealer-installed options. This particular “…Runner” waits for a new owner in Hibbing, Minnesota. The listing here on eBay has no reserve so, once someone gets the party started with a $1500 opening bid, this car will sell.

Aside from the Road Runner logo, this clapped-out Volaré shares little with the Road Runners of muscle car yore. Chrysler branded their fast mid-sized coupes with the cartoon likeness after striking a deal with Warner Brothers, whose popular Saturday morning cartoon featured the speedy desert fowl repeatedly outsmarting and outrunning its natural predator, Wile E Coyote. The 360 V8 made (gulp) 160 HP, the same as the 2017 Honda CRV’s 1.6L four-cylinder but, in fairness, it was comparable to other American V8 sports coupes of the day. Those big ’70s bumpers are perfect for pushing disabled vehicles out of traffic, and come in handy if your car ends up in a demolition derby. This bumper appears to have taken a shot on the left at one point, and the trunk lock may have been unceremoniously removed with a slide hammer.

Dig that funky upholstery! The back seat is in better shape. I have a soft-spot for these 1976-80 F Body Chryslers as the first car I drove on a public road was the ’77? Volare Wagon my parents factory-ordered with a 318 and the three-speed manual floor shifter. How many wood-grain Plymouth wagons with floor-shifters do you think were made? With the carpeting removed, the transmission tunnel looks solid and the seller reports floor rust only in a small hole near the gas pedal.

The first-year “Electronic Lean Burn” system actually employed a computer to control combustion and was universally reviled for poor running characteristics and reliability, and most were converted to conventional carburetors. This 360 cid V8 is “stuck” but is described as “rank when parked” in 1989. All 360 cars were automatics in 1977. The lack of rust on the underside of the hood testifies to the claim that this Road Runner enjoyed “dry storage” since the Reagan era. We have to imagine that any Road Runner will continue to gain value, but those looking for an investment may find better potential in the first generation cars. It would be interesting to locate and visually reconstruct the Lean Burn housing and system even if it was not functional, build the 360 while keeping it stock-appearing, and simply enjoy driving a car most car-show spectators have never seen. What do you think of this Splitfire Orange Road Runner?


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  1. Ed Rosko

    I liked ’em . Odd man out I’m sure

    Like 1
    • Monkey

      Nope, you’re not, I’ll admit to looking them myself.

      Like 1
  2. Rustytech Member

    Very minimal rust, which is rare for any Volare based car. I kinda like it. I never saw a Road Runner with those seats though, most were vinyl in a single color, and had bucket seats. These thing would have to go! I’d consider putting a later model fuel injected 360, or Hemi in it. I expect it will reach just north of $4k at auction end.

    Like 2
    • LAB3

      Agreed on the seats, I kind of remember them being vinyl also. Maybe “Mother of barstool” or whatever this one is wearing was an option, or perhaps some form of mold with an intricate growth pattern.

  3. XMA0891

    Violare’s did like to rot – And right-quick at that! Great Find! I’ve only ever seen one in-person. Just can’t be many left. Another inglorious end of a great model.

  4. skloon

    Rank when parked ? it’s still rank

  5. TriPowerVette

    Starsky and Hutch had their heinous Torino 4-door (which later became a look-alike 2-door with the same white stripe); Charlie’s Angels ran around in their Mustang II, 2+2, Cobra II, speed 1/2; and Stepfanie Kramer hustled here and there in her little 4 cyl turbo Daytona (not), as Sgt. Dee Dee McCall on Hunter.

    All of those rides to the stars were shadows of their namesakes. Each and all an affront to car-guys everywhere. Every one was a poke in the eye to those who knew and craved American Muscle. Each had exaggerated graphics and colors in a bitter-comic inversion to the vehicle’s actual prowess and potency.

    This one missed it’s calling. Can’t you just envision this car carrying Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly, racing through the streets (or at least the best it can), furiously rotating red light magnetically attached to the roof, on Cagney and Lacey?

    Yeah, far out man. Cool. Right on.

    • Rick Loera Member

      Starkey never drive a four door Torino. Always a two door hardtop. Hutch drove a 1974 four door Ford Galaxie 500. They made Hutchs car appear older than what it really was.

      Like 1
  6. Jay M

    I had a girlfriend with one of these.
    Fun ride for sure, but no keeper.

    Same with the car…

    Like 2
    • Jeffro

      Hilarious! Made me laugh out loud. I believe that most of us can relate.

  7. Dan Higgins

    I’ll pay for a gallon of gas and some matches, so this abomination can be properly disposed of.

    • Neal


  8. stillrunners lawrence Member

    Ruff live for those few years it was on the road.

  9. Mike

    It’s “Spitfire Orange”. Splitfire is a brand of spark plugs.

  10. JimmyJ

    I like this JayM guy funniest thing I’ve heard on this site!

  11. Rayutt

    We built a friend’s in high school auto shop. Same color, white vinyl buckets, autotrajic transmission. Some pistons, a high lift ” cayum” headers, and “eyxhaust tyips”, and it ran pretty well, even at 8000 feet in Colorado. Anyone reading this remember Brian’s car?

  12. JimmyJ

    Heard the rear spoilers worth big bucks


    I can’t say with a straight face that these were good looking cars but this one should be restored.

  14. Moparman Member

    Here’s one that was listed last August, 2016:

    The current car has the low spec base seats/interior, and (IMO) would have to be a labor of love, as it has a LOT of issues, w/ RUST being a primary one. GLWTS

  15. Denny Campbell

    I built a 79 Dodge Aspen and made it an RT. 360 60 over, eldbrock with 750 dual pumper, positive shift trans, 383 Ford rear end, 3/4 cam. Sweet car. Traded it in on a 93 vette that I still have. 15 years ago. Wish I had the Dodge back but some wrecked it shortly after buying it. 😢

  16. John Brown

    Actually the air cleaner is correct. Lean burn didn’t start till 78 , I have this exact car same color , 1977 Road runner 360 and it does not have the lean burn.

  17. CMARV

    I bought a 77 Aspen wagon in 96 at the wholesale dealer auction near me for $300 . It had been traded on a new Saturn by the original owner . The car had been ordered by one of the local volunteer fire chief’s , it had the police package (360 4bbl , auto , A/C , posi rear , heavy duty suspension , big brakes etc .Had the window sticker in the glove box to prove it) it was bright red too . That car was impressive it ran and handled well for what it was. I took it to Carlisle and it sold real quick , I wish I could have kept it . It’s a shame that this car is so far away from me , otherwise I would be firing up my rollback .

  18. James D Jennings

    I restored one several years ago to very good condition. I ran under 13 seconds in the quarter mile at the local track. The new Camaro only does low 15s so not bad in my book.

    • Jay M

      15 seconds? Um, no.
      Camaro with the V6=13.5 seconds
      Camaro 6.2 SS =12.5 seconds
      Camaro ZL1 =11.9 seconds

  19. David Ulrey

    I would take it in a heartbeat. Had a rusty as heck Volare and a totally rust free free Apen wagon. Both had the 318. I have a soft spot for them. I would spend the money to rebuild the 360 (with a few goodies in it of course) and get it safe and solid and enjoy the heck out of it. I’ve owned at least one car of every American brand made in the last 60 years and can safely say no matter what it is, someone somewhere is going to love it and someone is going to hate it. I know many people have owned more vehicles and some less. I’ve owned 96. I’m 56 years old BTW. Bought my first car at age 12. A running and driving 56 Ford.

  20. jerry meiergerd

    It’s better looking than a big block S3!!!

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