If you've ever been on a wild goose chase, you know that they never turn out the way you intended. You're told one thing and it ends up being another. Very rarely, however, do these hunts turn out better than you imagined. Such is the case with Wayne Bradley's story about this '71 Road Runner.
When you're growing up, your parents tell you not to talk to strangers. But, as we get older, we can use our better judgment on who to trust and who to talk with. Wayne met an unknown man back in 2006 when he was visiting a body shop. "There was a guy there with a Dart and he and I started talking," Wayne recalls. "He told me about a '69 Charger he knew of at an old trucking yard."
Wayne decided it wouldn't hurt to make the trip to the old Runge trucking yard in Herrin, Illinois, and arranged to meet up and take a look at the car. When he got there, he discussed the '69 Charger he was there to see, but the man said that he better come inside and take a look. This raised some suspicion in Wayne's mind. Inside there was not one, but four B-Bodies retired away in the darkness, covered in years of dust. "There was a '72 Sport Satellite Sebring Plus, two '73 Chargers, and this '71 Road Runner." Wayne, like a kid in a candy store anxious to taste every flavor, hopped from car to car looking each one over. They were all complete but each one needed work and one of the '73 Chargers ran.
Everything seemed to be surreal when he looked over the Road Runner. He knew to look at the VIN and how to correlate that information with the block and transmission codes. It turned out that the Runner was a numbers-matching car, making his find even more enticing. Wayne, not one to pass on a great opportunity, made a deal for all four cars.
As soon as he brought the Runner home, he began to tear it down in his garage to start the restoration process. It being a numbers-matching car wasn't his only incentive for buying it since it was a car he had been hunting for since he got rid of his '71 383 four-speed he owned when he was 16. With the car torn apart, he sent the body over to Mike Thomas, owner of J&M Auto Body just North of Cambria, Illinois. His team, consisting of Jason, John, and himself, took the bare shell that was given to them by Wayne and began to work their magic on it. Panels were aligned, gaps closed, and then they threw some color at it. This Plymouth originally came dressed in Rally Red, but Wayne's wife owned an Inferno Red Crystal Pearl Dodge Magnum at the time, and he loved the color. "I like that it closely resembles the Rally Red, but just pops in the sun and completely changes color to a darker red in lower light."
After the paint was dry, the car moved up the road to Mild 2 Wild auto upholstery. There, Jim used the parts that Wayne provided from Legendary Auto Interiors and a rebuilt dash to revive the cabin. New door panels, carpet, seat covers, and headliner found their way in. Additional items were sourced from eBay if they couldn't be replaced or refurbished on the car. Underneath the car was pampered in the same way and received all new bushings, paint, and restored all the suspension components to bring the car back to new condition.
Meanwhile, over in Carbondale, Illinois, Steve Whitehead had torn apart the all-original 383 at his shop, Mac-Weld. The motor was cleaned up for the rebuild and filled with all stock components, save for a Purple Shaft Mopar cam. The 727 was also sent out to Jim Randolph in Harrisburg, to be looked through and rebuilt into perfect working order.
The restoration interior pieces...
The restoration interior pieces truly bring this cabin to show-quality standards.
When Wayne got his first Road...
When Wayne got his first Road Runner at 16, it was also powered by the 300-horse 383 engine option. The only difference is that this one doesn’t have a third pedal.