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TBT: 1968 Plymouth Road Runner Hemi

Something about the mid-size B-body Dodge/Plymouth cars has always held an appeal; their no-frills appearance called to mind a muscle car version of a highway patrol car. In ’68, Plymouth already had the GTX , based on the Satellite two-door, but they felt the need for a stripped-down counterpart to the more upscale GTX. Their goal: a car that could run a 14-second quarter mile and sell for under $3000.

Chrysler paid $50,000 to Warner Brothers for the name and likeness of Wile E. Coyote’s nemesis the Road Runner (as well as $10,000 to engineer a “beep beep” horn), and the Road Runner was born. The no-frills Road Runner had a plain-jane cloth-and-vinyl bench seat  and rubber floor mats; its base engine was the 335-hp 383 V8. For an extra $714, you could get the Road Runner with the 425-hp 426 Hemi V8, which would launch the lightweight coupe through the quarter-mile in 13.5 seconds at 105 mph.

The tough, robust Road Runner with the 426 meant that other drivers would see nothing but taillights in a drag race, and despite the bare-bones interior, they sold well – outpacing the sales of the GTX, Dodge Super Bee and even the Belvedere and Satellite. Today, any ’68 model Road Runner is a rare bird, but the 426 models are especially desirable for collectors. The combination of low-budget no-nonsense styling, bone-crushing brute force and goofy Road Runner graphics have earned this Plymouth a place in the history books.