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Rusty Roller: 1971 Plymouth Road Runner

Introduced in 1968, the Plymouth Road Runner would become one of the best-selling mid-size muscle cars. Well, at least for a time. Demand for the car (s) began to fall off in 1971 because of rising insurance premiums and a shift to more emissions-friendly powerplants. This second-generation Road Runner from ’71 is in rough condition, but we’re told it moves back and forth (but not on its own; no battery). Located in Templeton, Massachusetts, this Mopar project is available here on eBay where the first bid of $10,000 has yet to be cast.

The Road Runner was the second intermediate muscle car Plymouth rolled out in the 1960s. The first was the GTX, an upscale “gentlemen’s” performance car that debuted in 1967. The Road Runner followed the next year, but as a budget-minded offering, and both were based on Chrysler’s B-body platform (Belvedere, Coronet, Charger, etc.). With its gimmicky name, cartoon likenesses, and “beep beep” horn, sales of the Road Runner quickly peaked in 1969 at just over 81,000 copies. But two years later (the year of the seller’s car), barely 13,000 of the birds exited the assembly line.

The 383 cubic inch V8 would be the most popular choice in 1971 and – when paired with a 4-speed manual – 3,730 copies were scooped up by a waiting public. The rest of the choices were a 340, 426 Hemi, and the 440 6-Pack, with the latter two options being in their last year. There is no mention if the seller’s car is numbers-matching and paperwork is non-existent, including a title due to the car’s heritage in New York State. So, what you see is what you get.

At a presumed 45,000 miles, we’re told this car moves around and the clutch works, but the condition of the motor is unknown. What the car appears to have plenty of is rust, visible in the rear quarter panels and trunk floor and likely elsewhere. A vinyl top used to be present but it’s long gone and the sheet metal below fortunately looks mostly okay. The rear front fender doesn’t match the Gold Leaf Metallic paint, suggesting a replacement due to rust or an accident. We’re told the chassis of the car seems to be okay. The interior looks to be a challenge, as well, so you’d better figure on shooting the works.

Comments

  1. Emel

    Looks like ole Wiley E…..finally caught this one and chewed it up.

    Like 11
  2. RMac

    I think that is the right front fender that’s different not the rear front fender? Cool car originally with pistol grip 4 speed but this one is a long way$$$$ from even a decent driver

    Like 1
  3. Ricky

    I think the reason sales dropped off so much was not due to the emissions and insurance restrictions. But to the fact that these cars became so different, (read: ugly), compared to the original.

    Like 2
    • Phil D

      You’re welcome to think whatever you like, but then, how do you explain the concurrent drop in muscle car sales at the other manufacturers, not all of whom matched Chrysler’s major reskin of its mid-sized lines for ’71? Did everybody find ways to make their muscle cars “ugly” in ’71, or might it possibly have been the aggressive uprating of every model, regardless of make, with an established performance reputation by all of the major insurance companies? After several years of Detroit publishing “short” horsepower ratings and searching for ways to disguise their performance models from the underwriters, the insurance companies became equally aggressive with their ratings of anything that could possibly be a performance car, and premiums skyrocketed. Many young men (and yes, more than a few young ladies) that could easily have afforded a new muscle car back in the early ’70s suddenly found that they couldn’t afford both the car payment and the insurance premium that they’d need to pay to put it on the road.

      Like 2
  4. Glenn Schwass Member

    Rough. I’d have to really check the torsion bar boxes with that floor rust. It didn’t sell so I guess it’s a moot point.

  5. erik johnston

    AHH, I reminder Of a black 71 rr a driver with a 340/auto I had back in the late 80,s $300. Triple black. I had fun with that car and like a lot of cool cars that passed through me-only had it a few months,sold it for somthing else. Forgot about that one!

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