You've heard the term old school. Well, here's a B-Body that embodies it: Larry Grim's '69 Plymouth Road Runner.
Though it does have some items on it that benefit from advances in technology (like its tires, new suspension pieces, and reproduction sheetmetal), there's nothing new tech about it.
That's true down to its bench seat, Torq-Thrust wheels, and Hemi--none of which were on or in the car when Larry found it.
Larry had the dream of owning Mopar's budget blaster since the fall of 1968, just after he'd graduated from high school. "A girl in town bought a '69, and she couldn't make the payments and had to sell it," he recalls. "I asked my dad if he'd co-sign a loan so I could buy it--she wanted $2,600 for it at the time. He said, 'Hell no--that's too much money!'"
Fast forward about 25 years, when Larry spotted a '69 Road Runner coupe for sale in one of the "shoppers" he found at a local gas station. It was a complete, running car--but a complete mess. "The interior was almost all rotted out, it had a dent in one door, and the trunk pan--the guy who had it before me welded a steel plate in it", Larry says.
Then there was the 383 under the hood, and the rest of the well-worn drivetrain and chassis. (Enough said about those.)
Who says a bench seat cabin...
Who says a bench seat cabin has to be dull? Dash gauges' black-on-silver colors mirror those of the AutoMeter auxiliary gauges. Grant 3-spoke wheel replaced a cracked original.
Larry, who'd done engine building and body and paint work before, had the idea of re-doing his Bird himself. But, one day watching TV, he got the inspiration to honor his timeless classic with some outside help: Muscle Car Restorations in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. "I saw them on TV, on My Classic Car with Dennis Gage, and he interviewed John Balow," says Larry. "At the time, it was pretty close to where I was living, so that's when I went up there and took a tour of his shop. After taking the tour, I was convinced that was the place to do it."
Before Larry's '69 rolled into MCR's shop, it had to wait its turn. "I was on their waiting list for two years, then I saw him at the Mopar Nationals at Columbus," Larry recalls. "John said, 'Bring it on up--we've got room for it.' I went home and took it up to his shop, and he said it would take about a year."
Among the first things that MCR did was replace that rusted OEM sheetmetal, and the steel-plate trunk pan patch, with new metal. Once the coupe was ready, it got a 528-inch Hemi, backed with a Keisler five-speed and a Dana 60. It was also the recipient of all new chassis parts including SSBC disc brakes at all corners, and CalTrac traction bars on the rear.
Inside, Legendary provided custom "reed-grain" seat and door panel upholstery, Just Dashes refinished the dash pad, and AutoMeter gauges keep tabs on the Hemi's vital functions.
Like the optional E74 426 Hemi that graced the Bird's option list in '69 (and cost $813.45 extra), Larry's 528 Hemi wears two four-barrels. "John said I'd get more power if I had one four-barrel on it, and I said, 'I know, John, but I'm old school. A Hemi isn't a Hemi unless it has two four-barrels on it."
What's it like to drive? Larry says that it's a little tough on the street. "I have to ride the clutch a lot, because it's bumping up against the cam," he says. "With that Keisler five-speed in it, in low gear you've got to keep it above 1,500 rpm to go across parking lots at shows. Well, at 1,500-1,600 rpm it's running at 40 miles an hour, so I'm riding the clutch all that time." He adds that, looking back, he should have had MCR mini-tub it, so bigger tires would fit.
Whether you're on the lookout for another project, or have one buried in your garage, Larry has this advice. "Do as much work yourself, if you can, because the most expensive part of it is the bodywork. This time, I wanted it done perfect, and that's why I chose Muscle Car Restoration."
Mopar Performance 528 Hemi...
Mopar Performance 528 Hemi delivers tons of old-school power.
Legendary Auto Interiors made...
Legendary Auto Interiors made a set of custom "reed grain" vinyl seat covers and door panels for the cabin of Larry’s '69.
Like Larry said, it isn’t...
Like Larry said, it isn’t a Hemi without 2x4's on top, like these chromed Edelbrock AVSs.
'69 Plymouth Road Runner coupe
Owned by: Larry Grim, Houston, Texas
Restored by: Muscle Car Restoration, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
- Engine: Out went a worn 383, and a 528-inch Hemi replaced it, wearing a Keith Black 2x4 marine manifold wearing 2 650 cfm Edelbrock Thunder AVS 4-barrels. Other engine features: Ceramic-coated tti headers and 3-inch exhausts with electric cut-outs by Doug's Headers, a BeCool aluminum radiator, and a Milodon 7-quart oil pan and Moroso oil accumulator.
- Transmission: A Keisler five-speed, with a long-handled Pistol Grip shifter, replaced the well-used original A-833.
- Rearend: With a Hemi, it's either a Dana 60, or scrap bin fodder. Guess which one this has?
- Suspension: (Front) Reproduction torsion bars with QA1R-series adjustable coilovers (Rear) Reproduction leaf springs, CalTracs traction bars, and QA1R-series adjustable coilovers
- Brakes: SSBC Force 10 discs at all corners
- Wheels and Tires: American Racing Torq-Thrusts wear BFGoodrich Radial TAs (225/70R15 in front, 275/60R15 in back)
- Body: Original '69 B-Body coupe unibody was chemically dipped to de-rust it, and then the rear quarters and trunk pan were replaced with repro ones.
- Paint: PPG Dark Grey Metallic basecoat/clearcoat
- Interior: Original benches restored with custom Legendary vinyl upholstery, foam and hardware, while Just Dashes re-did the dash pad and headrests. AutoMeter gauges include a 10,000 rpm tach, ammeter, plus coolant temperature and oil pressure gauges. Tach bracket is a custom piece, a three-spoke Grant steering wheel replaced the cracked original one, and the modern AM/FM sound system (with a trunk-mounted CD changer) was combined by Antique Automobile Radio with the OEM thumbwheel head unit.