Cody's Car Talk: The Plymouth Road Runner

COURTESY PHOTO

A 1972 Plymouth Road Runner, owned by Ron Trembley of Sutton.

BY CODY FACTEAU

A couple of weekends ago, I got the rare opportunity to actually see, feel and touch a real legend ... a 1972 Plymouth Road Runner. It's owned by Ron Trembley of Sutton. And, although I could spend a lot of time telling you about the Road Runner: how Plymouth paid over $50,000 to Warner Brothers for the use of the name & Road Runner cartoon likeness; how it was a low-cost muscle car that was able to run 14-second times in the quarter mile; and more, I do believe a classic 1968 Road Runner advertisement by Plymouth pretty much says it all ...

The Missing Link

Until now, there were two distinct types of stock cars.

There was the street stock. And, indeed, it was just that.

Despite the acquisition of big-displacement engines and ferocious nicknames,

it was basically a boulevard car. The emphasis was on luxury: expensive interiors,

lavish adornments, and lots of brightwork.

Then there was the other type -- the Grand National stocker.

You couldn't buy it, and even if you could, your name would have to be Petty

or something to get it started on a cold morning.

Nevertheless, it was infinitely attractive -- the low silhouette:

the super-wide tires; the stovepipe exhausts; the absence of chrome;

the Spartan cockpit-sort of brutally good-looking.

Obviously there was a need for a car that combined some of the

civilized comforts of the street stock with the integrity of the Grand National type.

So we created the Missing Link.

It's called the Road Runner, and you'd better believe it's one hairy-idling,

stiffly-sprung, squat-sitting, wide-tired, de-chromed automobile.

Unlike most stocks, Road Runner doesn't sport an interior of hand-rubbed,

fake Ukembeki wood. It doesn't even have Buck Rogers signature-model seats.

Like a real stocker. It's all-business inside: a couple of gauges, a big Hurst gear

lever and clutch, brake and accelerator pedals. The exterior is similarly functional.

The standard engine is an exclusive high-output version of Plymouth's

383 cu. in. V-8. Optional, and very fitting, is the big 426 Hemi.

The body is a two-door coupe with a hardtop roofline, and it's rigid

as only a stocker can be.

The suspension is completely heavy-duty, front and rear.

The only real concession to the boulevard is the addition of a horn, and

even that has character. It goes "beep-Beep!" just like the bird in the cartoons.

Oh yes -- and the doors work. On Grand National cars they're welded shut.

... the Plymouth win-you-over beast goes on.

The only place to catch the Road Runner ... your local Plymouth dealer!

Ahhhh, those were the days!

Cody Facteau is a 15-year old homeschooler from East Burke. He enjoys anything to do with cars, particularly the Classics. He loves Le Mans racing, his favorite TV show is Top Gear (BBC), hobbies are Legos and PlayStation. Career goals? What else, cars!

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