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1969 Plymouth Road Runner: Muscle Cars In Detail No. 5

1969 Plymouth Road Runner: Muscle Cars In Detail No. 5

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1969 Plymouth Road Runner: Muscle Cars In Detail No. 5

4.5/5 (3 valutazioni)
222 pagine
1 ora
Apr 17, 2017


Volume No. 5 of CarTech's Muscle Cars In Detail series covers the wildly popular 1969 Plymouth Road Runner and includes an introduction and historical overview, an explanation of the design and concepts, a look at marketing and promotion, and an in-depth study of all hardware and available options, as well as the market value for the car today.

Apr 17, 2017

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1969 Plymouth Road Runner - Wes Eisenschenk




The 1968 Road Runner exploded out of the gate eclipsing sales forecasts and putting Plymouth in catch-up mode the majority of the year. (Dodge, Plymouth and the AMC design are registered trademarks of FCA US LLC)

In 1967 it wasn’t as if Plymouth automobile models were getting their butts kicked at the stoplight. With engine option packages on the Belvedere and GTX reaching 426 and 440 displacements, there was certainly enough under the hood to get the job done. Where Plymouth was getting its butt kicked was at the dealership. Pontiac’s GTO and Chevrolet’s SS396-optioned Chevelle were outselling big-block performance Plymouths at a rate of 4:1. Nominal sales sent Plymouth designers back to the drawing board, and what derived from these meetings and concepts changed the landscape of the entire muscle car movement.


The success of the 1968 Road Runner was just as shocking to the folks at Plymouth as it was to those at General Motors and Ford. The car’s roots began with the 1962 Plymouth B-Body. The Savoy, Fury, and Belvedere shared the same platform while offering different stages of performance and luxury. The Belvedere line was re-skinned multiple times over the next few years, and by the beginning of the 1967 model year the B-Body platform had three marques with Belvedere, Satellite, and GTX. Carrying over into the 1968 model year, Plymouth knew it needed something to jumpstart the mid-size sales, and the designers found that with the new Road Runner model.

By taking a page from Pontiac and the 1964 GTO, Plymouth’s product planning analysts Jack Smith and Gordon Cherry were able to create a stripped-down, budget-oriented mid-size muscle car that came standard with a 4-speed shifter.

Expecting sales of 2,000 units, the 1968 Road Runner demolished expectations with more than 44,000 traversing the assembly line into the hands of eager owners. The unexpected sales sent Dodge, General Motors, and Ford scrambling to the drawing boards to create something on par with the Road Runner.


With the gas pedal pressed firmly to the floor, the 1969 Road Runner confirmed everything that its younger sibling had done, and then some. Carrying the sales momentum of 1968 and entering its second year on the new body style, Plymouth kept most of the exterior components the same with the biggest changes being a new grille, taillights, and side markers.

Plymouth unveiled a new convertible in 1969 to join the coupe and hardtop, giving buyers everything they could ask for when choosing where to spend their muscle car bucks. Although sales were relatively low for the convertible, the original formula for the model proved to be what owners truly wanted in their cars. The mid-year offering of the 440-6 powerplant placed an engine option firmly between the 383 and Hemi offerings.

What the 1969 Road Runner accomplished that its predecessors hadn’t was an initial package that was soft on the pocketbook, but could be optioned to rival some of the luxury cars of the day. You could order a new Road Runner for less than $3,000, or you could option one out to nearly $5,000. The price point could be whatever you wanted it to be.

Sales Competition

Competition was strong as the Chevelle SS, 442, GS400, and the GTO returned with their sophomore campaigns on the new A-Body design. The Road Runner finished second overall in sales to the Chevelle SS, and surely could have beaten Chevy, had it not been for the GTX and Sport Satellite cannibalizing sales. Not to mention Dodge’s successful redesign of the Charger was now entering its second year after a huge 1968 sales year. The array of Charger offerings ran the gauntlet from the 225-ci V-6 through the 426 Hemi in R/T trim. The Coronet R/T and Superbee models continued to chip away at sales of the Road Runner, with the Bee offering nearly identical options, sans a convertible.

The Road Runner sped along carrying sales momentum from 1968. Mid-year 1969 offered the injection of new colors such as Bahama Yellow.

With all this going on, Ford was trying to get in on the action. Out of the Fairlane/Torino body style came the Ford Cobra in sedan and fastback attire. The base engine was 428-ci rated at 335 hp, ironically the same horsepower as the Road Runner’s 383.

Fewer than 15,000 Cobras sold in 1969. Considering Plymouth only expected to sell 2,000 Road Runners in 1968, this number should be seen as very strong. However, with Road Runner outselling Cobra nearly 6:1, Ford watched from the sidelines as General Motors and Mopar battled in the mid-size muscle car market.


The Road Runner returned (of course) for 1970 with new exterior sheet metal and interior accommodations. A broad range of high-impact colors joined the lineup creating an unbelievable assortment of offerings. General Motors lifted its engine displacement ban and Hemi-equipped Road Runners now had their hands full with 454-powered Chevelles, 455-ci Pontiacs, Buicks, and Oldsmobiles. The year 1970 is seen as the zenith of the muscle car era.


For homologation purposes, Superbird entered the Plymouth lineup in NASCAR, joining its older aero brother the Dodge Daytona. Based on the Road Runner, the Superbird received a nose cone and rear wing on both production and race variants. The Superbird featured a large Road Runner logo adorning both wings on the car with Road Runner Superbird script creating a circle around it. With driver Pete Hamilton at the helm Plymouth brought home the 1970 Daytona 500 trophy in a Petty Enterprises Superbird, though corporate rival Dodge went on to win the championship.

The 1970 Plymouth Superbird was considered the most flamboyant Road Runner of them all when the dust finally settled on the model’s tenure in 1980. (Steve Netkow Photo)


This year saw a new iteration of the Plymouth B-Body with a wider, lower visual approach often referenced as the Coke bottle design. The Hemi was shoehorned between the fenders a final time and sales slid for the third year in a row as the sun began to set on the muscle car.


The Plymouth GTX, the upscale brother of the Road Runner, was born and died a bona fide muscle car. When it first debuted as an option on the Belvedere it added a touch of luxury to performance. Throughout its run as a package or stand-alone model, the GTX sported big-block power, with displacement never below 426. No other model or package with a five-year-plus run from that era can make that claim.

The Plymouth GTX maintained its muscle car pedigree throughout its entire life. This Sunfire Yellow vehicle is a great example of what power and luxury look like together. (Geoff Stunkard Photo)

The Road Runner began taking on a greater role in Plymouth’s lineup with the GTX as a performance option. The GTX began its life as a package on the Belvedere, and now returned to package status as the top option on the Road Runner.


The 400 debuted as a bored-out 383 and was standard in the Road Runner with either a 340 or 440 as optional equipment. A handful of 440-6 cars leaked out before the program was shut down due to emissions requirements. The 1972s were the last Road Runners to come standard with a big-block.

1973 AND 1974

The standard engine dropped to a 318-ci with

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  • (5/5)
    I'm not what you would describe as a car enthusiast, but this book is very well put together. The photographs are bright colored, lively, and inviting. They drew me in at first, but a closer glance the writing was beautiful. While technical and very inclusive of the details that a car lover wants, it was written in a language that allowed even someone like me to appreciate the details and care of a 1969 Plymouth Road Runner. I added this book to my classroom library for my students that love cars, but this is one that is constantly coming off the shelf. Love it!
  • (5/5)
    Wes Eisenschenk's book about the 1969 Plymouth Road Runner is a great reference book for any car lover. I'm not much into cars, but this book was interesting and the pictures were great! This book does a wonderful job of walking the reader through the Road Runner's history, as well as detailed information about the interior and exterior makeup of the car. My brother is a car guy and can't wait to get his hands on this book!
  • (5/5)
    Car Tech Scores Again!! The fifth in the series of Muscle Cars in Detail, the 1969 Plymouth Road Runner lives up to the other books in the series. If you are a restorer or owner, or just like the Muscle Car era, then this is another book for you. Once again Car Tech has produced a fine work that covers just about every detail you ever wanted to know about the 1969 Road Runner by Plymouth.Loaded with Color and Black & White photos of the different styles and color schemes as well as the hidden details to all the options and extras and also some cars still owned by the original buyers after all these decades.This book in which Wes Eisenchenk makes the 1969 Road Runner come back to life and adds facts and dealer material for the ad campaign as well. This car had more retail partners than any before and maybe since.Although small in size this work spells out a ton of facts and helps the younger reader understand the era better.Five Stars on this one, easy great read. Makes me want the rest of the series too.
  • (5/5)
    Wes Eisenschenk's book on the 1969 Plymouth Road Runner is a comprehensive reference book on production models of that year. In both print, photography and tables the author present what variations were available for offer and what was purchased being a muscle car enthusiast this is a series of books of interest to me. This would also have been a perfect marketing tool (without sold tables) and wish it was available when the car was for sale. I look forward to reading the other books in this series as well. A wonderful addition to my automotive library section
  • (5/5)
    This small book by Wes Eisenschenk is up to the high quality f material published by CarTech. The 1969 Plymouth Road Runner was a wonderful muscle car and if you ever owned one or wish to restore one then this is a book you should have as reference if stock is your goal. The author provides in both text and photographs and complete book of all production models produced.
  • (4/5)
    On of my favorite cars of all Mopars! The '69 has to be at the top of the list for classics and this book tells you why. The pics are great, the facts are great, and the history of the car is great. What a nice coffee table book for everyone to enjoy who loves Mopars!
  • (5/5)
    Great photos and extensive information about one bad-ass muscle car. It's obvious that Car Tech is the Go-To for serious and passionate car lovers, particularly vintage American Muscle!
  • (4/5)
    Well-written book full of Plymouth Road Runner facts, trivia, and photos. If you are a fan of muscle cars, be sure to read this fact-filled book!