Readers Rides

The 1971 Plymouth Roadrunner: Classic Muscle.

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By Mark Weisseg

The Roadrunner in the picture is a 1971 and I admit the black color makes the car look really cool. A friend of mine had one back in the late 70’s and his had a 440 engine. The car seemed fast even though it was seemingly bigger and bulkier than the 1970 Roadrunner. The Roadrunners heyday was really 68,69,and 70 and with the 70 you could opt for the Superbird with a 440 or a 426 Hemi.

However, this 71 was a good car but the changes really made the Mopar folks scratch there head. Why did the body change so much?
Well, look at what GM did from the stunning 57 Chevy to the 58 Chevy. They are polar opposites.
The ’71 Roadrunner came with a 727 automatic transmission and a console on the floor. The car was equipped well inside and was a nice comfortable ride. The exterior was so different than the previous year, it took time to understand it. After a while, most agreed it was alright and that the changes was fine. But, as mentioned before the government enforced strict new fuel economy standards as well as smog protection laws. The cars started losing horsepower and became slow and a shadow of their former selves.
As time went on, the Roadrunner name was badged on some bad looking cars until finally, along with the Plymouth brand, it was history.

Today, it’s the 1968, 69, and 70 Roadrunners that bring in the money. The ’70 Superbird with the 440 brings in anywhere from 125k to 175k and the rare Hemi Superbirds fetches top dollar. I own a ’69, I love the car and everything it stands for. I get head nods everywhere I go and when I do take it to a show the car draws the crowds.
I still wish somehow the Plymouth name could have endured and that the a Roadrunner nameplate would be on something like what FCA did with the Charger or Challenger. Oh well, one can wish and dream.

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