Mopar owners can be a pretty rowdy bunch. Only Plymouth could get away with naming a car after a cartoon character, the Road Runner. This little bird continually outsmarted a stubborn Coyote that apparently supported ACME's stock singlehandedly, and tested its latest developments on a regular basis. The Road Runner always got away and was far too fast for even the most intricate of the Coyote's tools. Not to be outdone, the car itself had to live up to this reputation of speed. This came in the form of the factory race cars, the A12. For 49-year-old Mike Eads, this was the pinnacle of "cool" for Plymouth, and having owned his share of Road Runners, it was time to own his first '69.
Beginning halfway through the 1969 model year, these B-Body speed demons could be equipped with the outrageous A12 package and were treated to only the best go-fast parts and style. They came with flat-black H wheels with no wheel covers an Organisol black-covered, functional lift-off hood. These gave the Road Runner a completely different attitude. Taunting the Coyote to come at it with all the rockets and gizmos available, a 390-horse 490lb-ft of torque 440 sat under the hood. These cars could keep up with the Hemi and were at the top of the food chain at any dragstrip.
By 2004 Mike had owned eight or nine Road Runners from various years. "I figured it was about time I owned a '69, and my buddy Jerry Thoennes had three of them," says Mike. One of those three was a repeated Mopar NATS trophy winner and, admittedly, Mike's inspiration for wanting to build a '69 Six Barrel car in the first place. The least attractive of Jerry's fleet was a rough '69 two-door coupe, which had been used for parts since the late '70s. "Needless to say, it was mostly just a shell by 2004." It was, however, an excellent candidate to modify and restore because all its original parts were missing, meaning he could modify things as he saw fit.
"I decided to do a Six Barrel A12 tribute car with a twist." To kick things off, Mike released the car to Hot Rod Bodyshop in Normal, Illinois, where Tracey Bains had the responsibility of turning a basket case into a potential show car winner. Tracey began by stripping the car down to bare metal and then installed two new quarter-panels. With the car apart, Mike enlisted his good friend, Herb Beer, to help him mini-tub the car and relocate the springs. "Herb had recently done this with his '67 big-block Dart so the chore was fresh on his mind." Mike commends Herb's excellent welding skills that allowed the job to be completed with a clean, factory look.
"I wanted to keep it as close to original as I could, so I intended to have it sprayed in A4 silver, since that's what the fender tag says it was from the factory," recalls Mike. "Tracey insisted that I look into other silver colors before he went ahead and sprayed it down. And after seeing Viper Silver Metallic, it won the spot."
When it came time to do the interior, his shell-of-a-car decided to bite back. "I literally had no interior, so I had to rely on my good friends to help me hunt everything I needed," he says. There were a few odds-and-ends that Mike had sitting at home, but he was missing pieces left and right. He took the car to another one of his good friends, Randy Van Hook of Van Hooks Upholstery, where they laid out a strategy to get everything together. Around this time, the two hatched the idea to stitch in silver inserts into the seats and door panels, because Mike didn't like the idea of having an "ocean of black" inside the car, had they gone with the factory look. With the parts provided by Mike, Randy, and various other sources, they were able to get everything they needed.