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Selling on Friday

From The Tom Haag Estate Collection

1968 Plymouth Road Runner Hemi Coupe

  • Meticulously restored in original color of Matador Red
  • Factory 426-cid Hemi V-8 engine, TorqueFlite automatic transmission
  • Built to export specs but never left the country
  • Muscle Car Review feature car, “Hot-Roddicus Supersonicus”
  • Deluxe interior, “Dog Dish” hubcaps, Music Master AM radio

Register To Bid Auction Info

Over the years, concerned groups of parents have gone after companies that used cartoonish advertising figures or characters for directing the youth of the day toward bad habits, such as the recent ban on cartoons being used to advertise junk food. As far as we know, no one has ever come after Plymouth for its use of the cartoon character, the Road Runner. Back in the summer of 1967, Chrysler Sales and Marketing man, Gordon Cherry was home watching Saturday morning cartoons with his kids when the speedy little Road Runner came on screen with Wile E. Coyote in hot pursuit. They had been looking for a good name for Plymouth’s intermediate performance-oriented new entry to the market. Come Monday morning, Cherry presented the idea to his boss, Jack Smith, who liked the idea. Using the Road Runner met with some resistance from the executive committee and, after lots of pleading, it was given the green light. A marketing deal was made with Warner Bros. for the use of Road Runner, with the likeness of Wile E. Coyote thrown in for advertising purposes – all that for a reported $50,000 payment. It was a genius idea, with Plymouth wanting to appeal to the younger generation, many of whom had grown up watching Road Runner as a hero of sorts, and the humorous ad campaign brought customers to showrooms resulting in 44,000 units being sold in its first season.

To create this muscle-bound four-wheeled bird, engineers started with the entry-level Belvedere coupe and then installed heavy-duty front and rear suspension parts. The 383 “wedge” V-8, already rated at a hefty 290 HP, was treated to a high-lift cam, high-performance heads, dual exhausts, and a fuel-thirsty four-barrel carburetor which added 40 horses. So economical were these first Road Runners, bucket seats and a console were not even offered as accessories. Only one optional engine could be ordered, the mighty 426-cid Hemi V-8. To complete the package, Plymouth reportedly spent $10,000 just on the development of the “Meep-Meep” horn. This Road Runner was inspected by an authority within the world of Mopar muscle and he determined that this particular Road Runner had originally been designated as an export car. However, it has never left the U.S., and is reportedly the only Roadrunner with this interesting history. Restored in the early 2000s, it was finished in its original Matador Red with the deluxe two-tone vinyl bench seat. Restored to factory specifications, nothing was overlooked. Mounted in the dash is the push-button Music Master AM radio plus the lever-operated heater and defroster. Steel wheels painted to match the body are fitted with base hubcaps, a sign of being a performance vehicle of the highest caliber.

Keeping with the less is more theme, the car is riding on a set of Firestone F70 X 15” blackwall tires. Open the hood and the engine presents as a wonderful piece of art with a chrome air-filter housing, blank crinkle finish on the head, a properly painted block, and its accessories; everything is correct down to the tan distributor cap. Even the trunk is finished sporting the proper jack and wrench and a vintage red-line tire on a finished wheel. The undersides of the car are just as clean and fresh as the day it was assembled. According to the original fender tag, this Road Runner left the Lynch Road plant in Michigan on January 23, 1968, and its original owner must have fallen in love. Its authenticity has been decoded and verified and it is included in the Chrysler Registry. Plus, in the July 2008 issue of Muscle Car Review, it was featured in a multi-page article titled “Hot-Roddicus Supersonicus”. While this perky Plymouth is 55 years old, we would wager it will still get up and give that old coyote a run for his money and come out far in the lead. Don’t let it get away from you.

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