When the Plymouth Road Runner was released for the 1968 model year, buyers loved it so much that dealerships couldn’t keep them on the lots. Designed to be a lower budget, bare bones raw muscle car, the Road Runner proved to be one of the best bang for your buck muscle cars on the market. Sales numbers for 1968 reached over 44,000 and then sky rocketed to over 80,000 in 1969!
This particular ’69 Road Runner was a special order unit for a dealership in the Los Angeles area of California. The idea behind the car was all go with very little “extra show”. It was ordered with the standard Road Runner equipment; a 383-4bbl engine backed by an A-833 4-speed manual transmission. The options were kept low with a basic 2 watt AM radio, wood grain Sport steering wheel and red line tires. The Road Runner was also optioned with the A36 Performance Axle Package which gave you a 3.55 gear ratio, Sure-Grip rear axle, 7-blade torque drive fan, 26″ radiator and Hemi suspension.
What made this one special was that it was ordered in special order code 999 Rallye Green, one of the new “Road Runner Performance Colors” released for spring of 1969. The striking green exterior was complimented by a white vinyl bench seat interior. It gained life on the assembly line on November 30th, 1968 at the plant in Los Angeles, California and was then sent to the dealership.
The Road Runner lived it’s life in California until the early 1990’s when it was brought up to British Columbia, Canada by a local Mopar enthusiast. From there, it changed hands a couple of times before ending up in the hands of Jason Davis in the mid-late 1990’s. Jason tells us, “When I purchased it, it needed quite a bit of love. At some point, it had been painted orange then black. It ran and drove but the clutch was shot. Every time you’d go to shift, the clutch would get stuck to the floor and the engine would just free rev. For some reason too, the hood was missing when I bought it.”
When it came time to restore the Road Runner, Jason knew it had to be done properly. The car was stripped down to the bare shell and mounted on a rotisserie where it would remain for the next five years. The car had some rust in the quarter panels so they were replaced along with the trunk floor was also replaced too; although it wasn’t rusty, it just wasn’t up to standards. Jason says, “My good friend Ron Friesen did the majority of the work restoring the car; from the metal work to the paint to assembly. It’s as gorgeous as it is today because of his talented hands”.
Ron shares, “Since the hood was missing, Jason bought a used hood from the guy he purchased the car off of. It came off a ’69 Road Runner he had parted out. What we didn’t know was that the car the hood came off of had an engine fire which led to the center section on the rear of the hood to become warped. We didn’t notice it until we put the hood on and saw the massive gap difference in the rear. That was pretty easily solved though with a couple of 2x4s and some body weight. I think Jason near had a heart attack when he saw me walking on the hood he had just purchased! It worked though and that’s the hood you see on the car today!”
Once the metal and body work was complete, Ron laid down a flawless coat of Rallye Green paint on the car. From there, assembly begun. The interior was restored back to factory specifications with it’s white vinyl bench seats and black interior accents. For the drive train, Jason had decided against putting a 383 back in the car, instead deciding to go all out with a 426 Hemi.
“The Hemi itself is an interesting story”, shares Jason. He continues to say, “I also own a ’68 Dart GTS factory 383 car. When I purchased that car, it actually had a running ’68 426 Hemi engine in it. The engine had an aftermarket camshaft and headers installed but I had all of the original stuff to go with it. The car ran beautifully but the rear end had quite a vibration to it so I decided to dig into it. One day when I was working on the car, I checked the VIN number stamped in the engine block and noticed it was for a ’68 Road Runner. I’m a huge believer in the history and heritage of these cars so I decided to check with Galen Govier to see if the car still existed. It turns out that it did and the owner lived in Saskatchewan. I gave Galen my number and asked him to let the owner know that I had his original engine.”
“Shortly after, I received a call from the owner of the ’68 Road Runner. He told me that his car currently had a factory Hemi in it that came out of a ’69 Road Runner as he thought his original engine was long gone. I read the numbers off the engine in my Dart to him and confirmed it matched his car. I explained that I was actually restoring a ’69 Road Runner at the time that was an original 383 car but that I wanted to put a Hemi in it so the ’69 Hemi he had would be perfect for it. After some discussion, we agreed to exchange his ’69 Hemi and some cash for his original ’68 Hemi I had in my Dart. Not too long after, he made the trip out to B.C and we made the exchange. He was through the moon happy to reunite the original engine with his car.”
Once Jason had the ’69 Hemi in his hands, it was installed into his Road Runner along with a date code correct 18 spline Hemi 4-speed transmission and a Dana 60 rear end. Body colored 15″ steel wheels were installed with dog dish hub caps. They are wrapped in BF Goodrich Radial T/As sized at 235/70R15 on all four corners. Jason tells us, “The restoration was completed around 2008 or 2009. I’ve driven it quite a bit since but not as much as I’d like to. I’m hoping to change that though and enjoy it more”.