32k-Mile 1968 HEMI Road Runner Matches Everything, Waits for a Buyer To Try To Catch It

hace 3 meses, 1 semana - 7 febrero 2024, autoevolution
32k-Mile 1968 HEMI Road Runner Matches Everything, Waits for a Buyer To Try To Catch It
1968 was a year of enthusiasm for Mother Mopar as two of its most illustrious sons were let loose in the world of pistons: the second-generation Dodge Charger and the Plymouth Road Runner.

The Charger stole the show, but the fast bird did not go unnoticed, selling nearly 45,000 units. Opposite to the Dodge muscle car, the Plymouth was a simpleton but carried the same hard-punching manners as its corporate cousin. And critically, it was a lot cheaper.

The Road Runner offered very little, and yet so much. One body style, two engines, and two transmissions, with the four-speed as standard. Mated to that fun meter was a dedicated V8, the 383 Road Runner Super Commando with a four-barrel carburetor. Plymouth wasn’t playing the Buick trick by naming engines the same as one of its cars to stir a bit of confusion. Quite the opposite, the big-block eponym was exclusive to the new model.

However, for the pretentious performance seekers, the no-fuss Road Runner could be optioned with a secondary V8 found at the very end of the powertrain section on Chrysler’s motor offerings. The Street HEMI, an established household name by then, was the alternative to the 383 regular equipment.

The monster motor offered its full 426-cubic-inch might, firing 425 hp and 490 Nm (431 PS, 664 Nm), but it came at a steep price. Literally, a HEMI Road Runner was $714 over the base price of $3,083. (Curiously, on a Charger R/T of the same year, the elephant engine was priced at $605, but the Dodge started from $3,500).

The Plymouth bare-bones muscle car was the perfect choice for those who wanted full-rapid-fire without unnecessary expenses. It was by far the best possible deal Chrysler offered that year to die-hard car nuts who couldn’t care less about color-keyed carpets or bucket seats but would trade in their mother-in-law for the HEMI in a heartbeat.

Also, the fact that the fabled 426 V8 was only available in the GTX (as an option over the standard 440-4 Super Commando) helped a lot – the Road Runner sold over 1,000 examples with the iconic engine. Eight hundred forty were wrapped in a coupe body style, while the remaining 169 came with the mid-year hardtop addition. Interestingly, of the bulk of post coupes, the proportion between four-speeds and autos isn’t as far off balance as we might expect.

Four hundred forty-nine manuals and 391 autos is a fairly even spread, and guess what? One of the manuals is for sale, and it has the full package: matching numbers (engine, transmission, 3.54 Dana 60 rear, body, and fenders), original keys, and owner’s manual. It was restored more than 16 years ago, and the January 25, 2008 inspection by Galen Govier noted 31,356 miles (50,452 km) on the odometer. The car - now located in Springfield, Nebraska - has 31,804 miles (51,173 km), is said to run and drive smoothly, and comes with a price tag of $175,000.

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