Plymouth Road Runner: The Beginning
You can’t get very far into the history of classic Plymouth automobiles without mentioning the Plymouth Road Runner. The car was a reaction by Plymouth to the impression that the original muscle car concept was being lost as people were building cars that were more and more expensive and exclusive to own.
The original idea was to make muscle cars affordable to everyman by keeping them simple on the outside while investing in the performance. Getting back to this mentality was the concept behind the Plymouth Road Runner.
The goal was to design a car that could cover a quarter-mile in less than14 seconds that carried a sticker price of less than $3000. People at Plymouth reasoned that a car with that kind of punch that was so affordable would strike a chord with the public.
In a marketing coup of historic proportions, they also made the wise move of securing the use of the Road Runner name from Warner Bros. for the princely sum of $50,000. As a result, from the start they had the benefit of cashing in on an iconic character that was etched into the minds of Americans at the time, and one that was known for lightning speed no less.
The concept hit the ground running. Sales projections were extremely modest at first, with the company expecting to sell perhaps 2000 units during the first model year in 1968. In a stunning turn of events they actually sold 45000 Plymouth Road Runners that year, and placed third in total sales among muscle cars, trailing only the Chevelle SS-396 and the Pontiac GTO.
The Road Runner remained in production through 1980 and we will be examining various models in future posts. But it all began with an earnest attempt to get back to the roots of the muscle car and by all accounts the effort was a smashing success.