Geoff Pipe first became aware of the gorgeous lines of the 1969 Plymouth Road Runner as a 5-year-old boy in 1969, while looking through a car magazine and coming across an ad featuring Richard Petty’s 1968 Plymouth Grand National Stock Car. As the years passed, his passion for muscle cars grew and although he did own a couple of other 60’s era muscle cars, he never gave up on his dream of one day owning a Road Runner.
By the late 1980’s, he had graduated post-secondary and was working at a good paying job. He decided it was time to begin searching. Geoff’s want list was fairly straight forward. It had to be a post car, it had to be a factory 4-speed and, preferably, it would have buckets and a console.
For about 18 months he answered every “For Sale” ad he came across and each time came up empty handed. The potential cars he viewed were either in very poor shape (one was a Satellite that had been used as a “bridge” between a cattle chute and the transport truck), very overpriced or, were Satellites dressed up as Road Runners.
In late February of 1991, he came across an ad for a 1969 Plymouth in the local Bargain Finder paper. The ad simply read “For Sale 1969 Plymouth” and a phone number. Figuring it was likely just Fury or Valiant, he ignored the ad. The same ad appeared again in the next two issues of the paper and now he had a nagging feeling that he should make the call. Thankfully, he did.
The lady who answered the phone said it was her husband’s and he was out at the time, but she did promise to pass his number along to him. She apologized for not knowing anything about the car but she did say she thought it might actually be “one of those cars named after that Saturday morning cartoon bird.” Needless to say, his pulse ratcheted up a few points. The owner called shortly afterward and confirmed that the car was a real ’69 Road Runner post coupe with buckets, console and 4-speed! He said it was most certainly not for sale if Geoff planned to do anything other than restore it.
Being as this was the early 90’s, it was the height of the Pro Street movement. Geoff admits that his plans were to tub the car and add an 8-point roll cage but he denied having intentions to do anything that involved cutting the car up. They arranged a time for him to drive out to Standard, Alberta that weekend to look the car over. When Geoff arrived at the house, he discovered a very tired Plymouth.
Wearing a white, roller-applied paint job, the Road Runner housed incorrect E-body seats, a homemade trailer hitch, no brakes, a transplanted 440 with a serious death knock and a 4-speed with the shifter mechanism held together with a clothes hanger. On the positive side, the car was quite heavily optioned for a Road Runner with the exception of manual steering and brakes. It was perfect! The following weekend he headed back to Standard with payment in hand and the transfer of ownership was done.
As often happens; life intervened, and between a marriage (and subsequent divorce), a lack of funds, no proper work space and seven different storage sites, the car sat in pieces for 15 years. During that time, he swayed away from building a Pro-Street car and was now planning on a full restoration. Over time, he was able to collect and restore many good used and NOS parts for the restoration that he was beginning to wonder if he would ever perform.
In 2003, he got remarried and they bought their first house the same year. Though not a car girl, she was very understanding when it came to the car they affectionately nick named “COYOTB8.” For the 6th time, the car was moved as he finally had a space to really start working. In 2006, with the pending birth of their second son, Geoff’s wife said if he was going to get the car finished then it was time to sell his soul and get serious.
The first order of business was to contact his friend Terry Levair at Investment Vehicle Restorations in Ganum, Alberta. From there, they began to work on a plan and budget for the body work and paint. After years of refusing to have a “brown” car, Terry sprayed a custom mixed Bronze base coat very similar to the original T7 Saddle Bronze Metallic followed by a number of clear coats and gave it a glass-smooth wet sand. Geoff said, “Many thanks go to Terry as he went beyond the agreed plan without altering the budget we had settled on!”
While the body was getting finished, Kori Alexander at Show and Go Restorations in Red Deer, Alberta had worked his magic on the A-833 4-speed transmission and 8.75 Sure Grip differential. Originally a 383, the 440 Source 438ci stroker engine was machined and assembled by BER Automotive in Red Deer. On top of a mild port match and polish, modifications to the engine included a Lunati Voodoo camshaft, Proform 850cfm 4-barrel carburetor, Mopar Performance dual plane aluminum intake and a double roller billet timing chain. Exhaust is a full 2-inch system with an X-pipe supplied by TTI.
Luckily for him, another friend and Mopar guru, Neil Patrick was heavily involved in the cars reassembly and finally on October 1st, 2009, it moved under its own power for the first time in 18 years. The pressure was really on to get the car finished as Geoff had committed the car to the Northern Mopars Car Club display at the 2010 World of Wheels in Calgary in late February and there were still a number of unfinished details like installing the glass and the interior needing to be completed among other things.
After some anxious moments, the car was completed a few days before the show and was ready for the Thursday move in. Geoff says “COYOTB8”s debut was more successful than he had ever hoped with it being awarded not only “Best in Class,” but also “Outstanding Engine Restored” and “Outstanding Restored.”
Geoff would like to extend his thanks to Terry Levair, Kori Alexander, Neil Patrick, Rob Campaign, Larry Gammon, Paul Desjardins, Barry Manning and many others for their help; especially his wife Cathy and sons Lucas and Matthew for putting up with it all!