The previous owner installed the '76 police-car-sourced 440. Being the low-compression variant means that Merrill can drive his 'Runner virtually anywhere with the guarantee it can safely consume any grade of fuel available. The 440 is stock down to the exhaust manifolds, ensuring a quiet, comfortable cruise. Merrill's score was hurt mainly by its quarter-mile performance, but that really isn't the realm in which this B-body should be judged. Sporting an open diff with a 3.23 gear isn't the sort of formula for quick times at the drags, as is evidenced by the right rear tire burning nearly the length of the quarter. But with the A/C pumping cold air during that hot day in the desert of Nevada, the true spirit of Merrill's bird was clear, scoring hands-down the best numbers during the ride-and-drive portion of the TSC.
Number SixBlake EldridgeAlbuquerque, NM'67 Dodge Coronet 440Blake Eldridge acquired the "Root Beer Bomb" from his dad when the car, meant to be a gift for his older brother, was rejected for lack of appeal (we at Mopar Muscle have trouble stomaching the idea of rejection). The 14-year-old Blake was more than happy to commandeer the Coronet.
Though the paint was faded, the body was in pretty good shape and the interior, save for the dash, was missing in action. In place of the original 318 was a 360. But Blake is a big-block man at heart, and a B-Body simply should have a big-block between its fenders, so he put a low-deck stroker together consisting of a 400 block, a 440 crank, Ross pistons, and a Comp solid stick. A set of mildly ported 906 iron castings was perched on top along with a Torker intake and a 950-cfm Holley. An MP electronic ignition fires all eight holes.
As in Merrill's case, Blake's quarter-mile times hurt his composite score, but he scored well in the show portion of the Challenge. Had Blake been able to hook his B-body at the starting line, the end results would undoubtedly have been different, as he reports its run a best of 12.62 at a buck-seven. All the horsepower in the world and street radials just don't add up to starting-line prowess.
Number FiveDarryl KinnaneRiverside, CA'69 Plymouth Road runnerDarryl Kinnane's '69 Road runner represents a bygone era, when musclecars were plentiful and prowled the streets looking for action. Built entirely of secondhand parts, Darryl built this orange bomber mainly to drag and cruise. After harassing a friend nonstop to sell him the 'Runner, he finally relented.
An original 383 four-speed car, the exterior was less than stellar, featuring body panels in green, black, and white. But Darryl got the old bird running pretty well to the tune of 13.89 at 103 mph, but a spun main bearing sidelined the Plymouth. After pulling the wounded low-deck, his father suggested he paint the engine bay. One thing led to another, and the restoration began. It now sports Vitamin C orange paint and a 440 packing TRW forged slugs, six-pack rods, mildly ported 452 castings, a TM7 intake, and an 850 Double Pumper. Darryl's Road runner came off the assembly line with a four-speed and, by god, Darryl still rows his own, pistol-grip in hand.
The ride-and-drive score was hindered by the deep rear gears making the car a bit "buzzy" at highway speeds. The 3,700-pound combo has run a best of 12.83 at 108 mph, but was hampered in Vegas by Darryl's forgetfulness: He forgot to turn on the electric fuel pump prior to making his first pass. It was obviously making all of its ponies on the next pass when he sheared off his stock axles. That's racing.