1969 Plymouth Road Runner goes ‘beep-beep’
Chrysler built a lot of different cars back in 1969. At the time, none of those cars caught the attention of Wayne Lewns. It took more than three decades for Lewns to finally begin to appreciate the Mopar vehicles of that era. In 2009 he discovered a 1969 Plymouth Road Runner in unbelievable condition located in Ohio.
The car had originally been purchased in Florida and had been completely refurbished to museum specifications and looked like the proverbial million bucks. The blue paint was flawless, as was the blue vinyl upholstery covering the bucket seats, which had been replaced by a bench seat.
A deal was negotiated and the Road Runner was trucked to Lewns’ home in Frederick, Md. Every automotive deal, as he learned, is not as good as it first appears. Soon after acquiring the Plymouth, Lewns drove it to an antique car show about 20 miles distance from his home where several other participants who had followed behind informed him of the cloud of oil smoke coming from his car.
“It was unbelievable,” Lewns says. “After 40 miles the engine was 1.5-quarts low.”
A ring job at the very least was definitely in order. The Plymouth was first taken to a trusted craftsman in Littlestown, Pa., and then later to a shop in Boonsboro, Md. Between these two shops the Plymouth was returned to good mechanical health.
First, the engine hood had to be carefully removed. “I was petrified pulling the big V-8 motor without scratching the paint,” Lewns admits.
Then the Road Runner was completely disassembled and after the better part of six months the Plymouth was finally returned to Lewns.
When new, the 3,435-pound Plymouth rode on a 116-inch wheelbase and had a base price of $2,945. There were only 33,743 such unibody versions built.
The Road Runner appropriately rolls on original equipment Red Line 7.00×14-inch tires. Lewns says the only accessory on his car is the heater, but he says, “I don’t know if it works.” The Road Runner never ventures out in cold weather.
There is one optional extra that Lewns has added to his car. “I have a heck of a time backing it into the garage with no right mirror,” he says. Consequently, the Plymouth Road Runner now sports a factory-authorized mirror on the exterior of the right side.
Although the mighty engine is fed by a pair of four-barrel carburetors atop an aluminum intake manifold, Lewns says he has never had his car over 60 or 65 mph.
“It will throw you back in the seat,” he admits, “when you hit the passing gear.”
“This Road Runner was restored to be a trailer queen long before I got it,” Lewns says, “but now it is my passion.”
“It’s a cartoon car,” he says. “It even has a Road Runner ‘beep beep’ horn.”
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