There's always been an argument among street enthusiasts about whether it would be better to have a Six Pack or Hemi. For Louisville, Ohio's Ron Mann, a head accountant for Goodwill Industries, that answer came in 1969. Why? Because that August, Ron had traded his year-old '68 Hemi Road Runner for a new M-code '69 440-6BBL version.
"The Hemi car had never run the way I would have liked, and I read about the Six Pack cars in the magazines. The best run on the Hemi had been about a 14.10; the new car went 13s without any changes from stock!"
Hunting for the evasive B-Body, which had to be a four-speed, then-23-year-old Ron found himself about 60 miles from home at Halpert Chrysler/Plymouth in Willoughby, Ohio. The car had all the right stuff-functional hood scoop, four-speed, and serious rear gearing (the Hemi had been 3.54-equipped). Painted T-5 bronze, it would be Ron's "fun car"; he had a '66 Sport Fury for more pedestrian tasks.
"After I raced it a little while, I bought a set of slicks used, already mounted on rims-that was the first change. Still, those G70 tires were a lot better than the '68 tires. I got a set of headers and made a few other changes. The big one was a new cam."
Unlike most spares, however, those original tires, rims, and the factory exhaust system went into storage rather than the junkpile. It wasn't as if Ron had some prophetic foresight to keep them; he just didn't have any reason to get rid of them as the car moved down into the 13.40 range in performance. He had sold a favored '64 Sport Fury when he got married in the mid-'60s, and decided he would keep this new Plymouth regardless. By the time he was done drag racing at places such as Quaker City and Dragway 42 in 1972, the musclecar era was gone for good, and with 1,200 miles on the odometer, the unique machine rolled into the garage with its stash of spare parts. Ron kept his need for speed fulfilled by going to the drags with a well-known Mopar sportman racer named Lou Furlong.
For the next two decades, the car would be driven on rare occasions-a quick trip into town or a special outing. In 1994, Ron decided it was time to begin looking at bringing it back to "as bought" condition. This didn't mean a complete restoration by any means; indeed, you are looking at the original Goodyear Polyglas Redwall G70 tires (which are not being reproduced) on the special H-code 15x6 steel rims that were on the car from the factory. No other wheel/tire combination was available on the '69 A12-optioned cars. The spare has never felt pavement and still has the factory markings on it. The front bench seat got a new cover, and the restoration aftermarket and people like Frank Badelson supplied a lot of the correct hoses, small parts, and decals that had disappeared over the years.
The rest was still around and simply had to be cleaned up or bolted back in place, including the exhaust system, the shifter, the fiberglass hood, the dual-point distributor, and even the windshield wiper blades. Unlike many drag cars, most of the mileage was put on by driving back and forth to the track every other weekend, not making banzai runs. The engine has never been rebuilt, nor has the A-833 crash box or 4.10-equipped Dana 60. Ron's only regret is having the car repainted during the '90s; always a street/strip car, it had only a couple of small dings. Regardless, the great new coat of T5 Bronze paint done by Tim Turner, also of Louisville, is a crowning touch to the unabused body. The odometer now shows a big 3,507 miles since leaving the dealership lot.
The A12 option that got the 440-6BBL (Six Pack was Dodge nomenclature) equipment kept many of the other options off the order form. Ron bought the car directly off the lot. It does have the interior dcor package, AM radio, heater (this is northern Ohio, after all) and Hurst shifter. Something he did add for a touch of cool class are the front wheel discs shown here. These were dealer-installed, fit 15-inch steel wheels, and would not turn while the wheel did, meaning the Road Runner was always right side up. You have to see them cruising down the road to see the effect. These original examples came from a vender at the Mopar Nats some years ago; due to the Warner Bros. copyright on the cartoon, they will probably never be reproduced.
Just like the car, they are keepers, too.