There are plenty of legends in the muscle car world; Charger, Challenger, Mustang, Chevelle, GTO; the list goes on and on. However, only one name sticks it’s tongue out at you and goes “Beep! Beep!” One that pesky Wile E. Coyote could never seem to catch; the Road Runner. Thanks to Warner Brothers’ Road Runner name, famous bird logo and “Beep! Beep!” horn coupled with Chrysler’s “coke bottle” design and raw attitude, the 1969 Plymouth Road Runner had a distinctive look that continues to stand the test of time.
With a design so sleek and rather perfect, it would be hard to make it better, right? Well, meet the “Ragingbird”; a car that took the famous ‘Bird and pumped some steroids into it. Lou Pacheco’s 1969 Plymouth Road Runner is a truly incredible beast thanks to the skilled and talented crew that built the car at Bair Customs out of Fort Wayne, Indiana; led by owner and operator Jason Bair. The plan of attack for “Ragingbird” was simple; more power, better handling, better brakes and some killer styling changes. The result is one of the most jaw-dropping pro-touring Road Runner’s out there today. “This car will simply stop traffic everywhere it goes and flat-out stomp anything on the streets, barring we can get the tires to bite the pavement,” says Jason Bair.
The roots of the car go quite far back in time, according to Lou. “The love of cars has always been a burning passion inside me. All types and models from classic and reserved to high end sporty and flashy super cars. I loved and owned some. Each car offered a different feeling and deep appreciation of its time era and innovation. Back in the late 1960’s, my father bought his first 1969 Plymouth Road Runner when he first married my mother. Though I was too young to really remember, I do know that he loved cars as much as I do today. He later went on to purchase other cars, considered today to be the ultimate classic power cars of their generation and so the story goes.”
Lou goes on, “My wife and I love to enjoy car events and shows. When we got married, my wife was into the newer model sports cars and I loved them all. When my father passed, the last of his classic cars was a 1977 Corvette C3 which I inherited. It had been garaged for a long time so it needed to be restored but was in great condition body-wise and had low miles on it. After bringing it home, my wife and I decided to restore it. My wife wasn’t really into the whole classic car thing but I was on a mission to make my wife see the beauty that classic cars had to offer. About a year and a half (and a lot of money) into the restoration, my wife grew frustrated and my persuading wasn’t working so well anymore, so we sold the Corvette to my uncle. She kept hinting to me that she wanted another Ferrari or Lamborghini. While I love those too, I always wanted to create and restore my vision of the ultimate classic muscle car.”
Not too long after that, fate stepped in and Lou just so happened to meet Jason Bair in the Sherwin-Williams booth at the Barrett Jackson West Palm Beach, Florida show in 2015 and that is where “Ragingbird” all began; in a way that most of us would get murdered for doing! “I can remember my wife trying to hurry us through the show and out the door and I kept going back to Jason five to six times while we were there. I think she was seeing that I had something up my sleeve. That night, we came home and after my wife went to bed, I made the phone call to Jason and told him that I wanted him to create my car. The next night, Jason and I were selecting the model car and year I wanted. Jason found the perfect driver quality 1969 Road Runner from an original owner in California so we bought it,” recalls Lou.
Now he had to overcome the hardest step of the whole build, telling his wife. “It wasn’t as simple as saying ‘Honey, we are designing a classic car’ and everything was good to go. She actually overheard me on one of the phone calls. As she stood there, looking at me with a ‘I’m in big trouble now’ look. I had to go into quick-thinking mode with what to say,” shares Lou. As it turns out, once Lou’s wife heard the design and detail ideas, she started to come around to the idea. Much to Lou’s surprise, she even came up with the name for the car! So, “Ragingbird” was born. From then on out, the “Ragingbird” vision started to take form, from the detail of the logo to the carbon fiber and bolts.
Ragingbird started life as a super clean California example painted black. Thanks to the dry climate it lived in, all of the body panels are original to the car. Once the car was stripped to the shell, it was given to Wade Yost owner of Yost Customs where he made sure there wasn’t a ripple or wave found anywhere on the car prior to paint. “The gaps are remarkably tight, and the custom ‘Purple Rage’ paint is miles deep. The paint was custom created by Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes and Bair Customs. It’s got a touch of pearl that explodes in the sunlight! Think of it as Plum Crazy Purple on steroids. The shine is deep, rich, and nearly flawless in every way; ready for the show field any time but also happy to prowl the streets. It’s high-visibility and make no mistake; every driver with an ounce of testosterone in him will lock on to this car like a homing beacon,” says Jason.
The exterior of the car was kept pretty simple as the team at Bair Customs didn’t want to mess too much with a good thing. The Hellcat style hood featuring a bold scoop and two heat extractors is completely one-off and build specifically for the car by Stinger Fiberglass. Most of the exterior is kept original looking, just as Ma Mopar designed. The additions of carbon fiber accents, custom bumpers, custom side mirrors and custom front and rear spoilers complete the look and give the Road Runner some serious attitude; all custom piece that were skillfully fabricated by Ken Feber. All of the lighting was upgraded with LED taillights and H4 Oracle Halo headlights. All of the exterior trim and custom bits were re-chromed by Reckon Plating and polished by Lee Scott. The carbon fiber pieces were created by Wayne Garner and Jamie at Xtreme Super Cars. Graphics and emblems were done by Hightech Signs, Maxwell Engineering and Gary Morgan.
On the inside, Raginbird’s interior received a full custom makeover as well to match its killer exterior looks thanks to help from Interior’s by Thomas. From the factory, Mopar covered everything in run of the mill vinyl; something they had miles of. Bair Customs decided vinyl just wouldn’t cut it so mostly everything that was vinyl was redone in high quality black leather, all perfectly stitched together with color matched purple thread. The original front buckets weren’t up to par for this build so the team replaced them with SRT power and heated bucket seats for much better support and comfort. From there, the back seat was stitched to match the fronts so everything ties together beautifully. Keeping the occupants both warm and cool is done by a Vintage Air system.
Rather than toss in some aftermarket gauges, Bair Customs chose to use the original gauges but give them a modern look with carbon fiber faces and silver lettering so Instrument Specialties was tasked with the job. A custom center console was fabricated and wrapped in black leather as well to match the rest of the interior. Of course, every killer build has to have a killer stereo. A Kenwood stereo powers a set of amplifiers in the custom upholstered trunk. Sound is released into the air through a set of Kicker speakers throughout the interior.
When creating a high quality build like this, every single step takes tons of planning. You just can’t simply create a custom one off car and toss a run of the mill stock spec’d 440 in it; that just won’t do. For that, Jason reached out to Arrington Performance and they happily sent over a stroked 426 cubic inch modern Generation III Supercharged Hemi to plant between the front fenders; producing north of 850 horsepower and 800 ft.-lbs of torque! Sitting on top of the Hemi is a perfectly polished Whipple supercharger and brand new Holley fuel injection system.
That big Hemi is fed with a custom fuel system by Aeromotive and is kept cool by a custom carbon fiber and aluminum radiator from Ace Radiator as well as electric fans. Everything breathes through a custom ceramic exhaust that was fabricated by Ken Feber and exits behind the rear wheels. Of course, like the exterior, the engine bay of Ragingbird had to offer plenty of eye candy as well. The inner fenders and firewall were smoothed and all of plumbing and Painless electrical harnesses were stashed away out of sight as much as possible. All of the mechanicals were handled by Mike Kelley.
Backing the supercharged Hemi is a Tremec 6-speed manual transmission sourced from our good friends at Silver Sport Transmissions. Shifting the Tremec transmission is done through a custom billet and carbon fiber shifter. With high horsepower and torque numbers, you have to have the best of the best out back planting that rubber to the road so Bair Customs called up Scott’s Driveline to build them a bullet proof Dana 60 fitted with 3.55 gears.
Since the car was built on a rotisserie, Jason decided the underside had to be just as shiny as the top so everything was sprayed with Sherwin Williams’ liner coat and tinted purple to match the exterior color. The front suspension is an Alter-K-tion setup from Reilly Motorsports and uses a tubular K-member and A-arms with a set of adjustable coil-over shocks, sway bar and power rack and pinion for quick turning capabilities. Out back there is a Reilly Motorsports Street Lynx 4-link setup that was custom fitted to the car by Ken Feber as well.
Break neck stopping power is done by a full Wilwood set up consisting of custom painted purple six piston calipers in the front and four piston calipers in the back coupled with 14″ slotted rotors. Everything is bumped up another notch with Hydroboost power. Raginbird rolls on one-off wheels made just for the car by Nutek Forged Wheels; measuring 19×8 in the front and 20×12 in the back. They are wrapped in 245/35/19 Michelin performance tires up front and 335/25/20 Mickey Thompson drag radials out back.
After two solid years of hard work by the very talented crew at Bair Customs, Lou picked up his dream Mopar from Jason at the 2017 West Palm Beach Barrett Jackson show. “It was where it all began. I can’t help but think back before I came into this world, my father had the same love of this car as I do today. DNA sure runs deep,” says Lou. It’ll be at SEMA 2017 in the Sherwin Williams booth too, so come see it in person.