Courtesy of Barrett-Jackson Auction Co.

This car has undergone a meticulous rotisserie restoration and is finished in R6 Scorch Red. Ranked third-fastest muscle car ever produced and track-tested at 12.91 at 111 mph quarter-mile by Ronnie Sox in stock trim.

Documented original A12 M-code lift-off hood car. One of 422 4-speed M-code 440 6-barrel cars produced and number 34 of 195 accounted for in the Chrysler Registry. Authenticated by Galen Govier with documentation that supports VIN number, fender tag, body stamps, matching-numbers 440 6-barrel engine, 4-speed transmission and factory warranty booklet.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1969 Plymouth A12 Road Runner
Years Produced:1969
Number Produced:1,412
Original List Price:$3,545.80
SCM Valuation:$75,000–$110,000
Tune Up Cost:$250
Distributor Caps:$22.58
Chassis Number Location:Plate on the driver’s side instrument panel behind windshield
Engine Number Location:Pad on the right side of the block to the rear of the engine mount
Club Info:A12 Registry
Alternatives:1969 Dodge Coronet Super Bee, 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge, 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396
Investment Grade:A

This car, Lot 1031, sold for $165,000, including buyer’s premium, at Barrett-Jackson’s auction in Scottsdale, AZ, on January 16, 2015.

It’s one of those irrefutable laws of nature: Speed costs money. Today’s Hellcat Challenger and Charger, LT1 Camaro and Shelby GT500 are unbelievably quick, but they all cost around double their base-model brethren — and more than the annual income of many Americans. You can also buy a pretty nice home in some parts of the United States for the cost of a new Z06 Corvette. So how fast do you want to go?

It was no different in the ’60s. Years back, Muscle Car Review magazine compiled a list of the 50 fastest cars from the ’60s, based on vintage road tests. Of course, the usual suspects were there. It’s no surprise that the lightweight 1966 427 Cobra, which cost a cool $7,000 when new, topped the list. Then came the fastest street Corvette of the era, the 1966 L72 427 coupe, which could sell for over $5,000. Keep in mind the average price for a home in 1966 was $14,200, and the average annual income was $6,900. Yes, serious speed cost serious coin back then, just as it does now.

But wait, what was that at number three on the list? A lowly Plymouth? And it cost just $3,545.80? The car was the 1969½ Road Runner 440 “Six-Barrel,” and it indeed defied the very laws of nature.

Six barrels of fury

The first 440 “Six-Barrel” Road Runner — option code A12 — was built on March 11, 1969. Although the A12 was a spartan vehicle, nothing about it was cheap. Just look under the lift-off fiberglass hood at the beautiful triple 2-barrel carburetor setup. “Three deuces” had been around since the mid-’50s, but by 1969 only five cars still had them — the A12 Road Runner and its sibling, the Dodge Coronet 440 “Six Pack,” along with three Corvettes: the $5,106 400-hp L68, the $5,218 435-hp L71, and the $5,613 435-hp aluminum-head L89.

Beyond that, every performance part on this 440 was top rate. That included the Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold packed with 2300-series Holley 2-barrel carburetors, dual-breaker distributor, special camshaft, heavy-duty valve springs, chrome-flashed valve stems, moly-filled rings, Hemi oil pump and Magnafluxed connecting rods. Chrysler said the A12 option was good for 390 horsepower at 4,700 rpm and 390 foot-pounds of torque at 3,600 rpm, but the NHRA factored it at a more realistic 410 hp.

But the good times didn’t end under the hood. Slick-shifting heavy-duty manual and automatic transmissions were borrowed from the Hemi cars, spinning the rugged Dana 60 Sure-Grip differential with 4.10:1 gears. Keeping things somewhat under control was the Belvedere’s S15 Police Handling package. This package was more than capable of mixing it up with cars costing thousands more.

Real-deal performance

Of course, the famous 12.91-second quarter-mile time quoted in Super Stock magazine just happened to come at the hands of “Mr. 4-Speed” himself, the legendary Ronnie Sox. “In order to get into the twelves, nothing more was necessary than to remove the air-cleaner element,” Super Stock reported. “In three runs Sox was able to go 12.98-111.52, 12.92-111.66, 12.91-111.80.” Granted, Ronnie Sox was an amazing driver capable of wringing the last fractions of a second out of a car, but the magazine’s authors were also able to run a best of 13.24 at 110.70 mph.

Yet on the street, the A12 was a joy to drive, as Super Stock reported: “… our first visit with the car was interstate highways at high speeds. We were impressed. The tires made it ride and handle beautifully, and the carbs — well, when they came in at about 4,000 rpm, it was a whole new ball game.” No, you couldn’t order air conditioning, cruise control, fancy wheels, or get the “Six Barrel” in a convertible, but those options didn’t belong on a stripped-down street fighter like this anyway. Clearly, Chrysler spent the money on just the “good stuff” and kept the cost low and the performance high by eliminating the frills.

Market movement

The last time we reviewed an A12 sale was in ACC #8 (March-April 2013, p. 50), where Russo and Steele’s Scottsdale 2013 auction sold a comparable A12 for $90,200. At that time I commented, “That’s not inexpensive, but it’s not inflated Hemi prices either” when compared with the $200k-plus a true Hemi car can bring.

Yet just two years later, this A12 sold for $165,000 in Scottsdale. Few things appreciate almost 84% in just two years, but you can call that the “Hemi factor.”

Granted, while these two cars were comparable, they weren’t the same car in the same condition. This car was claimed to have its original matching-numbers engine and sheet metal — a claim that the Russo car did not make. That does explain some of the difference in price between the two cars. However, I don’t think it tells the whole story. Not by a long shot.

The general rule seems to be this: As Hemi cars continue to move farther beyond the reach of most collectors, other high-performance Mopars such as the A12 Road Runner become much more attractive. That’s another irrefutable law of nature — since supply is limited, as demand increases, so does the price.

This time, the A12 Road Runner won’t defy the laws of nature. It’s rapidly moving from the bargain basement into the boutique, so if you’ve ever wanted affordable Hemi-like performance, I think you’d better act soon. I’d call this one very well sold for now, but it may not look that way for long.

(Introductory description courtesy of Barrett-Jackson.

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