Chassis number: RM23H9G157810

This ’69 Road Runner is a very original car presented in original factory optional F3 Frost Green Iridescent exterior paint with white vinyl interior.

The 383-ci V8 engine is backed by a D21 4-speed transmission.

The car is equipped with the Air Grabber hood, rear wing, factory bucket seats, center console, tachometer, power steering and Magnum 500 wheels with Goodyear Wide Oval tires. Spare, jack and extra keys are included with purchase.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1969 Plymouth Road Runner 2-door hard top
Years Produced:1968–70
Number Produced:44,948 in 1968, 82,109 in 1969 and 39,110 in 1970
Original List Price:$3,083 (two-door hard top)
SCM Valuation:$20,000–$35,000
Tune Up Cost:$150
Distributor Caps:$22.58
Chassis Number Location:VIN plate on top of instrument panel at base of windshield
Engine Number Location:Pad on the right side of the block to the rear of the engine mount
Club Info:Walter P. Chrysler Club
Alternatives:1968–72 Pontiac GTO, 1968–72 Chevrolet Chevelle SS, 1968–70 Dodge Coronet Super Bee
Investment Grade:C

This car, Lot 690, sold for $30,800, including buyer’s premium, at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, AZ, on Jan. 19, 2012.

Take an empty Coke can, drop a penny in it, and shake it. That is the sensory equivalent of driving a Plymouth Road Runner hard. Nothing subtle here. No smooth edges, no hint of luxury, no pretenses, just a big, loud V8 propelling a four-wheeled tin can at a ridiculous rate.

Muscle cars were plentiful by 1968. The 1964 Pontiac GTO created the big-engine-in-a-midsize-car genre, and soon everyone copied it. Even the conservative Chrysler Corporation created their version of the muscle car: the Plymouth GTX and Dodge Coronet R/T.

But the GTO and Chevrolet’s Chevelle dominated the market by a huge margin — in 1967 Dodge and Plymouth sold about 22,000 mid-sized performance cars combined, while Pontiac alone sold more than 81,000 GTOs. 1968 would have been a repeat performance for Plymouth, when, just a few weeks before the new models were to be introduced, a radical new idea was proposed.

A new kind of performance car

Jack Smith was manager of the mid-sized Plymouth product planning group. In a 2000 talk, Smith recalled the new performance car concept: “It had to please the kids if it was going to be successful. First, it had to do 0–60 in under seven seconds, right off the showroom floor. It had to do over 100 mph in the quarter mile in less than 15 seconds. Yet another objective was that it had to have, as standard equipment, all the mechanical toys the kids wanted: high-performance brakes, transmission and stuff like that. Lastly, it had to sell for under $3,000.”

It was a tall order, especially with just a few weeks to accomplish it, but most of the pieces were already in place.

Lightweight body, police parts

Plymouth engineers took the same midsized B-body platform that was used on the GTX, but stripped away everything that was not essential. Most sound deadening was removed, only a basic, bench-seat interior was offered, and exterior trim was kept to a minimum.

But by reaching into the police car parts bins (Chrysler had 51% of the police car market), the new car had heavy-duty brakes, suspension and rear axle. Chrysler’s trusty 383-ci “B-Block” V8 and heavy-duty transmissions would power it, but the 440 GTX cam and heads were added. 335 horsepower may not seem like much, but in this flyweight, 3,200-pound projectile, it could humiliate cars endowed with much more grunt. And if this wasn’t fast enough, the legendary 426 Street Hemi was an option, albeit at a hefty $714. Light, fast, and inexpensive to produce, this new, stripped-down muscle car had the potential to sell well.

Enter the Road Runner

Now to make it really memorable. Chrysler’s ad agency, Young & Rubicam, put their best and brightest on the task, and called the new, youth-oriented car… Lamancha.

Really? Really.

Thankfully, Jack Smith’s assistant had a suggestion. “Those of you who have seen the cartoons know that Wile E. Coyote is always trying to snag Road Runner, and Road Runner cannot be caught,” Smith said. “He cannot be caught because he is so agile. And best of all, he whoops: ‘Beep, beep!’” So Lamancha became the Road Runner.

A licensing agreement with Warner Bros. studio for the use of the cartoon character was quickly arranged (it cost Chrysler $50,000), and the Plymouth Road Runner was born. In a final stroke of genius, the Spartan Horn Company took an item they made for the military, removed the mil-spec features, and drove the cost for the unique “Beep-Beep” horn down to 47 cents above a stock piece. Rumor has it that Chrysler spent $10,000 developing the horn, but Jack Smith remembered that the only new component necessary was the mounting bracket, which cost $243 to tool.

The Road Runner was unquestionably the surprise hit of 1968, with 44,948 cars sold that year. For 1969, a convertible and a new 440-ci option with three 2-barrel carbs was added, and 82,109 were sold, surpassing the GTO for number two in the muscle car market (and getting dangerously close to the salesleading Chevelle). Motor Trend even declared the Road Runner Car of the Year in 1969.

The core muscle car experience

I had friends in high school who owned a number of Road Runners over the years. We all owned Chrysler products back then, and we filled the front row of the local Big Boy’s parking lot with menacing Mopar muscle. My friends bought their ’Runners cheap, rode them hard, and sold them at least for what they paid for them. And they never lost a street fight — even to modified competition. Their appeal today is the same as it was in 1969 — the Road Runner is the essence of the muscle car experience.

Today, Hemi Road Runners can hit the $200,000 mark, while the rare convertibles (only 2,711 built from 1969 to 1970) and top-quality 440 Six Pack cars can cross $100k. But the Road Runner the kids bought in droves was the basic 383-ci, two-door hard top — just like our feature car.

This car is gorgeous in Frost Green and white, has enough options to make it habitable, and it’s in mostly original condition. At $30,800, the price may be right on the current market value, but it’s rare to find an authentic, original muscle car like this — especially the car that truly defined the genre. That makes this Road Runner a tremendous bargain — just like it was in 1969. Very well bought

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