Q: Greg I’m a big Plymouth Road Runner and Dodge Super Bee enthusiast from the years 1968 to 1970. Aback both were alien in 1968, they became artery canoeing classics. However, while these mid-size MOPARS were fast, abnormally with the 426 Hemi and 440s, they were both affordable and backward that way appropriate on through 1970.
Can you accord us your recollections of these abundant MOPAR beef cars and any differences of note? Acknowledgment for your absorbing columns.- Gene A., Jacksonville, Florida
A: Gene acknowledgment abundant for your comments. Having endemic a ’67 GTX aback in 1968, I was an alive actor whenever annihilation MOPAR was action on and collection abounding of these Road Runners and Super Bees in annoyance antagonism events.
You hit the attach on the arch aback you acknowledgment the affordability of both these antecedent MOPAR beef cars. The Road Runner and affinity Dodge Super Bee were bare down, two-door column coupes aerial on application and low on animal comforts aback alien in 1968. They came accepted with four-wheel boom brakes that weren’t accepted for endlessly ability, abnormally afterwards authoritative a quartile-mile run on abbreviate abeyance breadth tracks.
Following a acknowledged 1967 sales year with the added big-ticket B-body Plymouth GTX and Dodge Coronet R/T, Chrysler absitively it was time to get alike added austere for 1968 with lower cost, mid-size beef cars. So, they paid Warner Bros. $50,000 for the allotment rights of its acclaimed ultra-fast animation Road Runner, forth with predator Wile E. Coyote, and aggregate was set in motion.
Plymouth again activated higher-compression and “cammed up” 383 V8 engines and Road Runner decals added to bare bottomward Plymouth Belvedere/Satellites, and the Road Runner was born. Ditto for the Dodge Coronet Super Bee, which I still feel should accept been alleged the Dodge Coyote like the appearance consistently in abounding following of the Road Runner.
Chrysler acquainted a sub $3,000 beef car would access sales and action the GM, Ford and AMC beef car offerings, which were already durably accustomed ala GTO, SS396, Fairlane GT, Mustang 428, Buick GS and abounding more.
The antecedent ’68 Road Runners featured the acclaimed “beep-beep” horn, elastic attic mats, a bank seat, chiral cycle bottomward windows and rear windows that addled opened sideways. The client had a best of either a 727 Torqueflite automated or a four-speed manual. Following accumulated advice on price, the 1968 Road Runner 383-inch, 335-horse achievement V8 came in at a abject of about $2,896. There was one agent advantage accepted as the “Elephant” and for aloof $714 more, you accustomed a 425-horse 426 Hemi, the absolute baron of beef car engines.
As for the Super Bee, it retailed for a tad added at $3,027, and was not an identical accompanying to the lower priced Road Runner. The Super Bee had a one inch best wheelbase at 117 inches, and advised about 70 added pounds than the Road Runner. Super Bees additionally had added chrome, nice auto and absolute die-cast chrome insignias instead of decals, which pushed the amount higher. Mechanically, however, they were identical twins.
As for that important chiral choice, anyone who anytime approved speed-shifting one of those big Chrysler A833 four-speeds absorbed to a 383, 440 or 426 Hemi, acutely understands why the automated was a accepted best for beneath than $40 more. Compared to Chevy’s Muncie M20, M21 and M22 four-speeds, the Chrysler A833 was apparently alert as difficult to speed-shift based on the breadth of the shifter alone. It was possible, aloof a bit added difficult.
Further, acknowledgment to the acclaimed Chrysler Corporation accumulation of automated engineers accepted as “The Ramchargers,” they ample out aback in 1961 how to accomplish an automated accomplish bigger than a four-speed (thanks to abate advocate technology) and the die was casting as to the approaching of aerial performance. Today, few alien cars appear with chiral transmissions as alike the all-new 2020 Corvette Stingray does not action a chiral transmission. As for acceleration alive a Super Bee, it was easier as the four-speed came with a Hurst shifter and, added importantly, Hurst bond as compared to the Road Runner that did not accept the Hurst shifter initially but did so after in the year.
As for exhibit activity, Plymouth admiral hoped to advertise 2,500 Road Runners in 1968 to advice amuse the growing appetite for a lower amount beef car. By year’s end about 45,000 Road Runners were sold, authoritative it one of the best acknowledged beef car introductions of all time. The Super Bee didn’t book as able-bodied but still out did projections at 7,967 units.
In 1969, sales bigger big time as 27,800 Super Bees were awash while Road Runners skyrocketed to 81,125. Additionally in 1969, Road Runners and Super Bees offered an A12 “Six Pack” advantage that included a 390-horse 440 with three two-barrel carbs for aloof $462 more. With a 4:10 arrangement Dana rear and some aftermarket bolt on upgrades like headers and a set of slicks, 12-second division afar were easy.
Surprisingly, the A833 Four speeds were added accepted than the 727 automatics aback it came to the A12 cars, behindhand of disciplinarian speed-shift abilities. Of the 1,907 Super Bee A12s produced, 1,093 were four speeds while over at Plymouth, of the 1,487 A12s built, 826 were four-speeds. And to area off any letters, Plymouth alleged its 3-2 bureaucracy “Six Barrel”.
In 1970 both featured new exoteric designs although sales alone to 41,000 for the Road Runner and 15,506 for the Super Bee. Best aspect the bead to actual aerial allowance ante for younger, beef car owners, about the ’70 Road Runner outsold the Pontiac GTO by about 1,000 units. As for the Super Bee, it larboard the Coronet belvedere and abutting the Dodge Charger calendar in 1971.
By mid-1971, lower grades of fuel, alike college beef car allowance ante and accessible government apple-pie air mandates spelled doom to one of the best agitative eras of beef car history. By 1974, no absolute beef cars were accessible from any manufacturer.
Thanks for your letter Gene and bringing aback these abundant memories.Greg Zyla writes account for Added Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at [email protected] or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.