A Forgotten Classic: the Plymouth Road Runner

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A Forgotten Classic: The Plymouth Road Runner

The Plymouth Road Runner was a classic car that ran from 1968-1980. It was built by the Plymouth Division of the Chrysler Corporation. Although classic race car history enthusiasts rave about the iconic sedan, it has somewhat disappeared from the public consciousness. 
But it’s not a ride to be forgotten about. According to Driving Line, the Plymouth Road Runner was not just a brilliant marketing idea but a phenomenal effort. It pierced through to the heart of buyers who needed a V8 fix and also catered to thrifty speed enthusiasts.

How did the Plymouth Road Runner get its name?

A close-up look at a retro Plymouth logo.
The iconic Plymouth logo graced the front of the Road Runner for over 10 years.
The meaning behind the car's name can be traced to the Road Runner Cartoon by Warner Bros. The Plymouth Road Runner centered on the horn that made an iconic beeping noise—mimicking the chirp of the cartoon. And after an aggressive ad campaign featuring Wiley Coyote, the name stuck.
As a result, Plymouth had to negotiate some deals to overcome the copyright and usage issues the name brought. Eventually, they had to pay $50,000 for naming rights, and cough up a further $10,000 for the horn sound.

The vehicle's design, features, and specifications

The Plymouth Road Runner was meticulously designed to be a high-performance muscle car. It had no carpet and was otherwise relatively low on interior spec. The anterior and rear seats were both benches. Also, it had no air conditioner, radio, trim, cruise control, and very few color options.
And from a car purist’s standpoint, that principle made sense—less stuff meant higher performance. It also saved the consumer money, as the base level design of the Road Runner cost less than $3,000. 
Meanwhile, the low spec-high performance plan worked. All versions of the Plymouth Road Runner began with a 335hp 8-cylinder engine. It also had a 425 lb-ft of torque. The car's spring rate was hardened to help with road-holding.

The end of the Plymouth Road Runner

Sadly, by the end of 1980, the Road Runner was abandoned, primarily due to emissions and regulations issues. The US government wanted to mitigate hazardous and environmentally expensive vehicles. And muscle cars were among the least economical around.
The Road Runner did try to adjust over the course of its production time, though. Plymouth made the car smaller with less powerful engines. While those changes made sense, they paved the way to the ultimate collapse and end of the car.

The Road Runner, racing, and running away

The Plymouth Road Runner was often used as a street machine or drag car due to its high power output. It accelerated very well, and remained steady on the road at high speeds, making it a good option for drag race enthusiasts. 
It was also sometimes used for other, more illicit activities. Because the Road Runner was so large and sturdy, moonshiners often opted to use it to carry out nighttime deliveries and drives. And if things got risky, the Road Runner often had enough muscle to pull away from police cars on country backroads.

How Jerry can help protect your Plymouth Road Runner

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