Road Stunner: 1976 Plymouth Road Runner

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This stunningly well-preserved 1976 Plymouth Road Runner was sent in by loyal Barn Finds denizen, Mr. Jim S; he has a great eye, to say the least. This citric acid beauty is listed here on eBay as we speak with bids reaching over $8,000 and 6+ days left on the auction! Yes, for a Plymouth Volaré-based “performance car” from the mid-late-1970s! If this doesn’t prove that almost everything that’s been kept with care and in hiding for decades has some value, I don’t know what will. The seller says that this car has been hidden in a pole building for 25 years and is now in Rockford, MN, about a half-hour west of Minneapolis.

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This Spitfire Orange car is in gorgeous condition, but that goes without saying. This Road Runner must have been in temperature-controlled storage for the last 25 years; not the typical “barn” that I’ve ever seen. This was the first year of the F-body Plymouth Volaré-based Road Runner and is a third-generation car. In 1975, the Road Runner goodness was plugged in to the Plymouth Fury for one year only and then in 1976 it moved on to the F-Body Plymouth Volaré platform, which along with the Dodge Aspen was a replacement for the A-body Valiant/Duster twins. Are you confused yet? I thought so, it’s an odd timeline; no question about it. In the Dodge camp they made the Dodge R/T as a Plymouth Road Runner counterpart, and the Volaré/Aspen twins were Motor Trend’s Car of the Year for 1976.

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The car seen here is from the estate of a gentleman who, “according to his widow, would buy cars, enjoy them for a short while and then put them away.” That sounds like something I would do (and, am currently doing; dang). This car has a mere 50,366 miles on it, or an average of 1,259 miles a year over the last 40 years. The seller says that the front fenders on this car were replaced and repainted under Chrysler’s recall notice in 1978. So, those aren’t original.

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Speaking of not-original, this is a 1969 Plymouth Cuda 318 and the seller says that they pulled, and “resealed it, new water pump, fuel pump, filters, belts, hoses, tune up items, new electronic dist., 1972 factory cast iron 340 4-V intake was added as well as a new elect. choke edelbrock 650 cfm carb. and headers.” I thought that something didn’t look right there. That’s unfortunate, in my opinion. For a car that’s touted as being so unbelievably original, that doesn’t make any sense to me. Even though this is obviously a hotter, better, unquestionably faster, and more powerful engine, original is king and this car isn’t original anymore. But, it doesn’t seem to be hurting the bids in any way.

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We’ve all seen restomods go through the roof at auctions over the last decade. The original 318 would have had 150 hp and this one obviously has much more than that. I would personally rather have the original engine in this car rather than someone else’s idea of a “better” engine, but I like things original spec. I’m guessing that the vast majority of folks here could care less about that and would rather have this hot engine over the lukewarm original 318. The one seen here is as beautifully-detailed as the rest of the car is, though; no question about it.

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The seller says that there is “NO rust on this car, in out of under”, and I believe it. It even has a “concours” Goodyear Polyglas spare tire and jack in the trunk.

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Well, there it is, this car has a three-speed automatic instead of a manual. That’s a bummer, but the seller hopes that the other features will make you forget about that. Like, the 8 3/4 sure-grip positraction rear end, power steering and brakes. The A66 Super Pak option package is here, too, with fender flares, spoilers, rear quarter-window louvers, and stripes. A little over half of the 15,000’ish Road Runners built in 1976 had that option package and it’s what makes this car, in my opinion.

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This is one fantastic Plymouth Road Runner, taken from the world’s cleanest barn and brought back to life. Do these “trim package” type cars turn you on or are you a give-me-muscle-or-give-me-death kind of person when it comes to the legendary Plymouth Road Runner? Beep-Beep!

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Comments

  1. Chebby

    I think you could order a 360 in these as well? Uncorked, that would make for a pretty fast car.

    • Scotty G Staff

      You are correct, Chebby, the 360 was an option but it only had about 170 hp. But, as you say, uncork that baby and let’r rip!

  2. Craig

    I had a base 1977 Volare wagon as my first, new, company-provided vehicle. After driving it for a while, my saying about the car was “You’ll be sorry in a Volare.” Lots of electrical issues in the engine bay, the worst being that the car would just die and not restart until the mystery component cooled off/reset itself/stopped being a little b!tch and I could restart it (finally traced to the electronic ignition module). Still, this is a beautiful example, even if the engine isn’t original.

    • Jeff

      …called the ballast resistor; famous issue to the point of always carrying an extra in the glove box. You shoulda been told.

      • moosie Craig

        Apparently Mopar didnt fix the Ballast resistor problem, my Dad had a ’78 Volare wagon 225 “Super 6” with the same problem, it took one time for it not to start and he found out from a local old time mechanic to carry a spare ballast resister . BTW the spare never had to be used.

      • lrry

        Common problem with ALL Mopars of the 70’s +/-. Aspens, Furys, etc. Used to carry a spare for getting home after curfew. Oh the memories….. Aspens and Volares had Self destructing Front fenders.The fender replacement worked out great for me. Dodge sent me a check for fenders 12-18 months after mine was totaled. Now that was a GREAT Recall.

        Like 1
    • skloon

      Dad had a slant 6 one as a company car- oddly had the same key as our Tradesman van – thing was unstoppable started at -40 without being plugged in- but the front seat was some sort of indestructible vinyl that would glue itself to any bare skin

      • Jeff

        That wasn’t just any kind of “vinyl”. It was “Rich Corinthian Leather”. 😀

    • JCW

      Sorry hit report by accident

  3. Van

    Not as cool as a big flaming chicken on the hood, but if you have to have a Mopar.

  4. Capt Shindig

    Volare’ Wooh Wooh, Volare’ They, eh blow! Sure, modify what was basically something that wasn’t and call it what it ain’t; a factory produced example of what a muscle was/should have been..
    Then again, new a kid in high school back in the day who drove a Toyota pickup rotbox and proceded to get a Road Runner tattoo on his shoulder and never owned one…Late 70’s=drugs=bad ideas=non muscle cars of that era….name one outta Detroit from 76 to 86….all garbage

    Like 1
    • duster dave

      86 brought with it the mighty Grand National. A MAJOR MUSCLE CAR…PERIOD.

      Like 1
    • Andrew

      Hit report by accident. ….sorry.
      1986 fuel injection mustangs….

    • Nessy

      Say Capt, you said to name one muscle car out of Detroit between 76 and 86? Well, I know the term “Muscle Car” was official from 1964 to 1973. I also understand the 70s in general was a time for slowish cars, however, by the early 80s, there were a few pretty quick cars. I think we all can say the new for 85 Tuned Port Corvette, Camaro and Trans Ams were pretty hard runners, of course the new for 86/87 Intercooled Grand National was an animal, the HO 5.0 Mustangs pulled pretty hard as well. Even the new 82 Mustang GT had some new found jump due to many upgrades that year. If you want to talk outside of Detroit, the Porsche 911s and 928s, the new for 85 928S 32 valve 4 cam V8 was a monster. Heck, if you want to look at what the Japs did in the early 80’s. They are really the ones that started the horsepower wars again with the new for 81 Datsun 280ZX Turbo. Remember how fast those Turbo Datsuns were? That car outran every car built that year and with an automatic transmission! Yes, cars have come a long way since the 80s but you can’t really say that every car built between 76 and 86 was garbage.

      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

        Just wanted to mention that just yesterday I spoke to the owner of an ’84 300ZX Turbo 50th Anniversary – we were getting gas at the same time. Not a speck of rust, rare for a Northeast car.
        Aside from the common issues cars of this age exhibit, he says that it is still a blast to drive. We agreed that there weren’t many performance car choices back then, only the Vette came to mind.

  5. JW

    I remember seeing one identical to this one when they came out new and the only thing that stood out was the color. No Thanks !!!

  6. piper62j

    Definitely for the Mopar lover.. It’s a Volare base all tricked out by Chrysler.. Kinda cool looking, but not in my driveway..
    Cool car.. Nice find.

  7. Blindmarc

    A car rarely seen today. Easy to make respectively fast in the fi times of today with a lot less money than current cars cost.

  8. grenade

    My buddy drove a rusty one of these in high school, 84-86 ish. Now we want to recreate one, but this one is a really nice car, love it, I shared the ebay auction with them, it’ll bring back memories for sure. Long live Detroit and Mopars in the downriver area…

  9. The Walrus

    It was the best of years. It was the worst of years. It’s my favorite year because my first car was a 1976 Volare Roadrunner I bought when I was 13 (1984) from the backlot of the local Dodge dealer.

    It was blue. It barely ran. And the front tray of the console was so full of cigarette butts that I didn’t know it was actually a tray about 2″ deep… or that the seats were white and not brown. Spent weeks cleaning the interior, often using Lacquer Thinner (my dad’s signature cleanser/weekend scent) to cut the ‘mustard’.

    I spent my 14th summer filling and patching, mostly with bondo. Ended up painting it in a scheme similar to this one (although it was ’85 Fiero Garnet Red). Found a car in the junkyard with a perfect red dash (to convert it from blue). And Voila! Had my own car to drive when I got my permit that fall.

    Ran it into a bridge about a month after I got my license. Fixed it. And more or less moved on to other things. Sold it when I started College as, in my moms mind, I was leaving the house. She had decided I could not keep a car at her house, as my dad did at his mom’s house, with his first car (1931 Chrysler CD-8 Deluxe Rumbleseat Coupe) for 25 years.

    It’s still amazing to me how abused that car was in 1984. An 8 year old car totally trashed. My daily driver is a 2007 Infiniti 6MT Coupe. You’d never find one of those like that Volare was here in 2016. It would either be wrecked or diving.

    Put it this way… If my mom had a spare space in her garage, I’d be bidding on this one!

  10. Paul R

    It was a tough time for so called american muscle cars by any manufacturer until fuel injection finally brought some horsepower back that passed emissions.
    What killed the mid 70’s and 80’s cars was low compression and terrible camshaft profiles. It was a sad time to say the least.

    Great to see the owner added an engine this car deserves that makes some decent power while being conservative. Now I bet it is enjoyable to drive.

    I own a 51K mile 1986 Monte Carlo SS. You won’t find one nicer. The stock 305 with a whopping 180 HP killed the potential and driving enjoyment of the car. It now has a 383 small block with 390 HP, a pure joy to drive now. I have the original engine pickled and the car could be returned stock in a weekend.
    Someone always asks if its for sale and could careless if the original engine is in it. I think the car is worth more with the high performance 383. The cruise control works and the A/C is ice cold. Its not cobbled together.

    Originality has its limits.. Is it a museum piece or a driver?

  11. Rando

    The 318 from 69 up to 71 (i think?) was rated at the 230 hp. Then they went to net hp instead of groos and the ratings went to 150 hp. Same engine, same specs. Electronic ignition helped with reliability and tune ups. THe catalytic converter and other smog stuff would have choked it up more. I had a 71 Swinger with 318 and it was ok. Great to me, not being old enough to have driven the true muscle cars. I think this old road Runner could be a fun car.

  12. Jubjub

    No Tuff wheel?
    Really like these in this color. Maybe it is cheesy but most things then were. At least the Lean Burn isn’t present. An earlier distributor and the Lean Burn elimination woke my Mom’s Volare up and made it reliable.

    Anybody ever see Polyester? A hood character drives an R/T akin to this.

  13. Nemo

    I remember my dad had one of these about 20 years ago. Same color, just an engine swap that would eat the tires alive. Unfortunately rust ended it. Always loved the body style.

  14. AMC STEVE

    A guy had one of these in high school but in reverse colors, black. It was very fast as he swapped the engine in it and got rid of the smog stuff.
    He kept it for a long time and might still have it. Very cool for the times….

  15. Charles

    Mopars: notorious rust buckets……

  16. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Well Charles looks like this one has minimal rust and is up over 10 grand….nice car for what the time was….

  17. scooter8

    jammed a wire between posts! I don’t need no stinkin’ ballast resister!

  18. Dave Armstrong

    Had this same car with a 360 in it. Would love to have it back.

  19. Dallas

    Had a ’79 in black with gold with the 360, in the late ’80s. My favorite memory of that car was beating a somewhat notorious town d-bag in a drag race against his Fiero GT. Good times.

    Great site, I’m really enjoying the finds!

  20. duston roberts

    i know the guy that bought the car. the pics don,t even began to tell the story.he now have over $21,000 in it take the commit for what its worth

  21. Ken

    Ok,here goes. Owned one of these back inside ’78, I believe,as the second owner. No, it was not a smoker off the line by any stretch of the imagination. But… mine was the 318 version with the 5 speed manual trans and I don’t know as I ever ran it out on top end as fast as it would go and believe me,I ran the hell out of it. Beefed up the rear springs and ran liquor with it for a year with no problems.
    Turn on a dime,stop on a nickel and showed the tail lights. Best driving car I’ve ever owned.

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