In the mid-'90s Mike sold his OE-certified '6911/42 Road Runner (see August/September '94 Mopar Muscle) in order to buy a new house, and he wanted to replace it with a '69 Road Runner convertible. He says all he could find were "rust buckets for way too much money." In the end, he bought a '71 Barracuda six-cylinder that he aimed to turn into a Hemi 'Cuda. Yet, after buying the car, he realized it would require more work than his metal art skills could manage, so the hunt was on once again for a Road Runner drop-top. He found one listed in Hemmings Motor News-a 383/727-powered beast sporting an R4 Performance Red topcoat, power steering, Magnum 500s, power top, bucket seats with the buddy-seat armrest, AM radio, and an 831/44 rear with limited-slip 3.23 gears. The downside was the car was in pieces, and a tree had fallen on it, damaging the windshield and header, dash, door glass, and an upper rear quarter-panel.
"I immediately called and had to leave a message," says Mike. "I called back about 4 p.m. and got the seller's daughter. I asked if the car had been sold, and she said 'no,' and that the ad had just broke that day. She said they had 16 or 17 messages for it. I told her my name and asked what number caller I was. She said 'third.' Now I had to have this car, so I asked her how old she was, and she said '16.' I asked, 'Do you have a color TV in your room?' and she said, 'no.' I asked if she would like to have one, and she said, 'yes!' I told her to tell her Dad that I would buy the car sight-unseen, give him the asking price, and give her a 13-inch color TV. Just call me back and the car is sold."
Perhaps some folks might look askew at Mike's tactics, but that old clich about fairness, love, and war also holds true when it comes to acquiring vintage Mopar iron. What's more, you've got to give Mike an A-plus for his backdoor approach-the scheme worked.
"When the seller got home from work," says Mike, "he said, 'What's this you told my daughter?' We talked and he agreed to the deal. I picked up the car the following Saturday and gave his daughter the TV. In the meantime I traded the Barracuda to a guy for a '69 GTX parts car, and man, was I glad I did."
Because of the extensive damage resulting from the tree-versus-Road Runner incident, Mike had a good bit of parts replacing to do, and the GTX donor gave up plenty of hardware. Mike also spent considerable time hunting down correct parts, including date-coded, N.O.S. and original restored components.
As you can see, Mike went for a stock restoration on the Road Runner.