With the sudden emergence of the muscle cars in the market between the 1960s and the 1970s, car manufacturers produced muscle cars to help attract the market. The Plymouth Road Runner targeted the younger audience in putting a big engine in a cheap car to attract the demographic who could not afford the features presented in most muscle cars during that day.
The Road Runner was developed by the Plymouth division of Chrysler. The name originated from the cartoon character, Road Runner, which the company paid Warner Brothers $50,000 to use the name and likeness of that character for their own muscle car. Chrysler also paid $10,000 to develop the “beep beep” horn. Plymouth then began to develop a back to basics muscle car. Everything that was only related to the performance and handling was improved. The interior only had a basic bench seat. Only a few options were available such as power steering, front disc brakes, AM radio air conditioning and automatic transmission. This certainly was a muscle car packed with maximum excitement at a minimum price!
The very first engine put in the road runner was a 383 cid v8. A $714 option was also available for a 426 Hemi engine. The Road Runner could blaze thru ¼ mile of a track at 13.5 seconds. Which was quite a fast time for a low priced car. The Plymouth Road Runner was one of the best platforms to utilize one of the best engines at that time. The model was expected to only sell 2,000 units but by 1968, sales grew to 45,000. The only muscle cars outselling this model at that time were the Pontiac GTO and Chevy’s SS-396 Chevelle.
Due to the success of the Plymouth Road Runner in 1968, Plymouth widened the consumer’s choices. A convertible was added and also bucket seats were added as additional options. The decals were also now in color. 440 cid V8s engine was also available that provide Hemi-like acceleration for almost half the price. More than 82,000 copies were snatched by the consumers during this time. The Plymouth Road Runner was further improved and continued to be available in the market until its discontinuation in 1980.
Today these cars can command up to $35,000 if not more, whenever they are up for auction, and most owners have no trouble fetching those prices, assuming the car is in mint or near mint condition with its original numbers.
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