It started in 1995, when Phil Avello of Belleville, New Jersey, was searching for a garage to repair the damage from an unfortunate barbecue in the engine bay of his '70 Challenger. Phil heard of a garage in town for rent in which, as rumors suggested, an "old Mopar" was stashed. He never thought much of the hearsay-until he arrived and the landlord slowly opened the garage door. There, lurking in the shadows, Phil spied this '68 Plymouth Road Runner in the small two-car garage.
He immediately asked if the car was for sale. So the story goes, a local gentleman originally bought this car in 1967, and while away in Vietnam, his younger brother gradually performed some modifications and claimed the car. A few years later, when the owner came back from Vietnam, he sold the car to his brother because he was getting married and needed money. Once the younger brother legally owned it, he turned it into a full-fledged race car.
When Phil found the car, it had an old Lakewood rollcage, Goodyear 15x31 slicks, a tunnel ram on the original 383, and 12:1 compression. The owner had cut the quarters to make room for the slicks-the only damage to the car when Phil acquired it in 1995, except for a few scratches. Showing only 49,279 original miles, the car had sat from 1972 until 1995.
When Phil purchased this car, he didn't plan to start the resto right away. But after his insurance company totalled the Challenger following another accident, Phil was free to begin the Road Runner resto. With the help of his girlfriend Michelle, they immediately stripped the car, starting the transformation process that made it what it is today. They scraped the undercoating and pulled the original 383 engine and trans, as well as the interior.
When the stripping was complete, the car went to CJM Chassis in Staten Island, New York, for a new rollbar and subframe connectors. The couple then took the car to Lorenzo's Auto Body in Kearny, New Jersey, where the paint was stripped and the quarters repaired. Once they got it back, the interior floor was painted and all the wiring and gauges installed. A custom interior was then put together by Everlast Interiors of Linden, New Jersey. The junkyard salvaged bucket seats were covered in black and silver-blue tweed, and since it's a driver, the JVC/Alpine sound system pounds out the necessary tunes. Once the body came back, they installed the engine.
After the car was back together, Phil drove it for a couple of years with the old engine. One night after a car show, he was "fooling around," as he puts it, and the engine came apart. For the rebuild, the engine was given to Simonek Performance Engines in Paterson, New Jersey, where it was opened up .030 inch. SPE also added a 4.150-inch stroker crankshaft to the RB to provide a 493 cubic-inch displacement. Childs & Albert rods help the Wiseco pistons create an 11.25:1 compression, and the large Ultradyne cam pulls fuel through the Indy cylinder heads from the Holley 950 HP perched atop the Indy intake. The engine made 696 hp at 6600 rpm and 661 lb-ft of torque on the dyno. Handling the shift duties for all of that power is a 727 built by Little Falls Transmissions of Little Falls, New Jersey. They filled it with parts such as a Turbo Action valvebody and an 8-inch torque converter from Coan. With the old engine and tranny, the car went 11.10 at 121 mph. Phil hasn't yet had a chance to test the new combo.
He decided to keep the exterior of the car stock-appearing, but needed to go with a '69 Six Pack hood to clear the new induction combo. The blue headlights that were in the car when he found it remain.
Phil would like to thank Ted Wagner for his help and send a special thanks to his family for putting up with him during the build. Couldn't have been that bad Phil, could it?