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Monday, March 28, 2016

This ’71 Plymouth Road Runner is a Barn Find Beauty


Copyright © 2016 Bold Ride LLC.

At some point, all automotive enthusiasts are faced with the same tough decision; is it time to retire the car? And what a dreaded thought. The reasons can be many, from nagging reliability issues to high mileage wear-and-tear, or sometimes just a lack of time, money, or garage space. 

For whatever reason, the owner of this barn find 1971 Plymouth Road Runner decided to put it up in its farm roost back in 1997, an abode it has lived in until recently. Impressively, it’s said to be a highly all-original numbers-matching example, apart from an incorrect air cleaner seated on top of the engine.

Now, the farm fresh Plymouth has come up for sale, spotted by the folks over at BarnFinds, and it’s already garnering quite a lot of attention for its dusty, dirty originality. 68,000 reported original miles doesn’t hurt either.


First, a little bit of history. With its “beep beep” horn and go-fast Road Runner imagery, the Plymouth Road Runner was created at a point when muscle cars began to stray from their original “big engine, base model” origins. Both the Pontiac GTO and Plymouth’s own GTX had now aimed for a wealthier crowd and came generously equipped.

So as not to alienate the traditional muscle car enthusiast, the Plymouth Road Runner stepped in to fill the niche below its big brother GTX, both having been based on the Belvedere/Satellite family. The magic began in 1968 and the good times would keep rolling through 1970.

1971 brought radical change to the Road Runner, which traded its squared-up stance for Chrysler’s more aerodynamic “fuselage” styling. Crucially, it also marked the last model year of true Road Runner performance. Come 1972, emissions regulation would do its best to strangle the poor bird. This one however is still a heavyweight puncher.


Lift up its lid and you’ll find the classic 383ci V8, which made a still-very-punchy 300 horsepower for 1971. It comes paired with an easy-shifting TorqueFlite three-speed automatic, while on the outside its performance chops are accented by the optional (and very racy) front and rear spoilers, which a build sheet alleges to confirm as original.

Currently with its second owner, this Plymouth Road Runner isn’t perfect—the engine isn’t running, the trunk pan looks quite forlorn, and the interior is a bit threadbare—but it is an impressive survivor and likely to be an appreciating classic for years to come.