Introduced in 1968 as a lower-priced alternative to the GTX, the Plymouth Road Runner was the perfect enthusiast car. Not only affordable and light, but it also came with a selection of powerful V8 engines.
While the regular Belvedere came with an inline-six in base trim, the Road Runner featured the 383-cubic-inch (6.3-liter) big-block V8 as standard. Plymouth added the 440-cubic-inch (7.2-liter) “Six Pack” in 1969. But more importantly, the Mopar was also available with the mighty 426-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) HEMI V8. Alongside the Dodge Super Bee, the Road Runner was the most affordable way into HEMI ownership at the time.
Plymouth’s flashy colors, the stripes, and the “air grabber” hood of the HEMI version kinda prevented the car from being a sleeper. Still, the Road Runner was one of the most unassuming muscle cars of the era. Come 2023, and we know what to expect when we see one at the drag strip, but the Road Runner you see here is not your regular 1969 Mopar. Don’t let the factory-stock appearance fool you, though; this Road Runner is actually a Hellcat underneath the skin.
The mill is identical to the supercharged V8 mill that Dodge introduced in the Challenger Hellcat for the 2015 model year, so it cranks out 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet (881 Nm) of twist. That’s 90 horses below the uprated Redeye version we got in 2019, but it’s a lot more than the 440 and 426 HEMI engines that Road Runners came with back in the day. The former delivered 390 horsepower, while the latter was rated 425 horses and 490 pound-feet (664 Nm) of twist.
But this 1969 Road Runner is more than just a 50-year-old classic stuffed with a modern V8. It also features a Tremec six-speed manual (which still comes with a pistol-grip shifter), big disc brakes for proper stopping power, and a Magnaflow exhaust system. The modern gauges and the cruise control system round off the features you won’t find in a stock 1969 muscle car.
As far as looks go, this Road Runner is an attention-grabbing rig thanks to its flashy color combo. Not only finished in Rallye Green, a super rare “high impact” hue that Plymouth offered only in the Spring of 1969, but it also boasts a white vinyl top. It’s not the most popular combo out there, but it’s one of my favorites. Especially when paired with a white interior, color-keyed steelies, and thick black stripes on the hood.
But while it may look stock from a distance, this Road Runner has a few tiny touches that set it apart from its 1969 siblings. The white stripes that run just below the waistline feature “Hellcat” graphics on the rear fenders, while the trunk lid has a tiny “SRT” badge. Up front, one of the four headlights now acts as an intake, feeding cold air into the engine. Yup, just like on the Dodge Challenger Hellcat.
And needless to say, it sounds just as mean as its modern counterpart when the pedal hits the floor. But according to the owner, it’s more entertaining to drive since the lack of modern insulation allows all that supercharger whine to flood the cabin. Unfortunately, the video lacks a proper quarter-mile run, but I’m pretty sure this Road Runner would cover it in less than 12 seconds.