"I love it when a plan comes together!"
That weekly George Peppard quote, well-remembered from the TV show "The A-Team," pretty much sums up how the Holley Road Runner project concluded. Those of you who have read the magazine for the last 18 months or so have watched the transformation of this well-worn piece of Detroit iron into a state-of-the-art asphalt ripper that looks like a musclecar and cruises like a late model. The 1969 Plymouth benefited from the greatest amount of materials and craftsmanship ever offered to the Chrysler automotive aftermarket, combining the best of the old and new to create what is without question the best project car in Mopar Muscle's 12-year history.
In mid-1999, former editor and current publisher Jerry Pitt initiated the program with Holley Performance Products, who sought to celebrate the sixties with this car-one of ten that will be completed in time for Holley's centennial anniversary. A wide array of aftermarket companies offered the needed components, with the entire project underwritten by Holley Performance Products. Carefully selected, the donated time and materials took the former street beater to the pinnacle of current-era resto-mod.
Noted artisan John Balow of Muscle Car Restorations in Chippawa Falls, Wisconsin, was tagged as the point man on the project. Balow located a 1969 383 Road Runner in Alabama that became the basis for the car. After Progressive Stripping removed previous bodywork efforts, Balow's talented crew at MCR freshened the shell, using rust-free sheetmetal from Freman's Auto in Montana and massaging the carcass into primo shape.This included installing the windshield from Auto Vision Center, refurbished bumpers from North Star Plating, and custom chrome from Paul's Plating. In place of the steel hood went a version the factory's well-remembered A12 Six Pack-type fiberglass unit, in black, of course. The crowning touch was the Hemi Orange/Tor-Red PPG acrylic urethane paint job, applied at MCR and complimented by virtually everyone who has seen the car in person.
Meanwhile, as the body was being overhauled, the crew at Indy Cylinder Head in Indianapolis was busy creating a mill suitable for the beast. Rather than base it on the tired 383 original, Indy's Ken Lazzeri came up with a stroked 542-inch wedge-type lung that tagged the dyno at over 575 hp and 700 lb/ft of torque. Instead of a brace of 30-year-old 2 BBL Holleys, a brand new 950-cfm Holley vacuum secondary carb was mounted atop the Indy intake. The result is a streetable, albeit thirsty, stroker wedge that can smoke the hides on command.
While the headers carry a Hooker emblem, Balow's artisans crafted special headers for the car using a fabricator's kit from Hooker to create the tubes. These were then HPC coated in order to fashionably send the spent fumes to the Flowtech (also a Holley brand) mufflers, also treated with HPC thermal coatings. The pipes terminate at a set of Stainless Steel Exhaust Tips' ends, again keeping with the car's resto-mod look. Instead of a standard distributor, the system is fired by Holley's state-of-the-art Annihilator ignition system. Other components for the engine came from Federal Mogul, Eagle Specialty Products, and Charlie's Oil Pans, while former Mopar Pro Stock standout Herb McCandless came through with a Hemi A-833 four-speed trans with all new internals.