Nowadays, it seems that everybody wants to own a rare car. What makes this a little ironic (and the cars rare), is that not many people wanted them when they could have been bought new. Now, what has become a bigger irony is that what we really want to drive has become so rare and valuable, that we either feel guilty for driving it or we are so afraid something will happen to it that we can't enjoy ourselves when we do.
Jack Brundage of Seattle, Washington, is someone who knows what this feels like. Over the years, he has assembled a small collection of matching-numbers Race Hemi and Max Wedge cars from the mid-'60s. These cars might be ultra fast and ultra fun to drive, but they're also ultra rare and ultra valuable. Not the sort of cars you can drive around every day, let alone do anything that resembles a long road trip. Granted, these factory race cars were never intended for street use, but Jack still wanted something that he could drive anytime he wanted, wherever he wanted, and as far as he wanted.
Option one could be to build a spot-on clone of a rare car, but before you are finished, they'll cost you almost as much as doing a real one. John Balow, owner of Muscle Car Restorations, and Jack came up with the idea of building what he likes to call a tribute car. That is, taking a Plain Jane version of a car and building it to look like what you want. This affords you the opportunity to build it your way, without being worried about every little correct detail. You could say that tribute cars are built in the spirit of the original, but without the guilt or anxiety of driving something rare.
Jack's Plymouth may have started out as a basic 383-powered Road Runner, but in actuality, so did all A-12 Package cars. And this tribute (like the originals), has all the stuff that made a real A-12 car fun to own and drive: a 440 with a Six Barrel, an 833 Hemi four-speed, and a Dana 60 with 4.10 gears. Now, the 4.10 gears and a four-speed might not make it a 1,000-mile-a-day cruiser, but the addition of electronic ignition, and modern, upgraded air conditioning, can help make the miles you do drive a lot more enjoyable.
While the addition of A/C might make your drive a lot cooler, long trips on G70-15 Polyglas tires (like those originally on A12 cars), can make a long trip seem longer, so modern day radials have taken their place. At first glance it looks like an A12 car, and that's the point of a tribute. Jack gets to have all the fun of a rare ride, and none of the worry. He built it to drive it anytime he wants, wherever he wants, and as far as he wants. Guilt free and worry free driving--sounds like a good deal to us.
Interior: Keeping true to...
Interior: Keeping true to the plain Jane look, this tribute houses only the necessary interior accoutrements like a shifter handle, a bench seat, and a couple of aftermarket gauges.
Engine: Except for the addition...
Engine: Except for the addition of an electronic ignition, the modern A/C, the serpentine belt system, and the Be Cool radiator, this 440 looks pretty much like it would have from the factory. OK, maybe not, but you get the point that this is a tribute car, right? No one will ever mistake this engine bay for original, but that wasn't the point. Once behind the wheel or even in the passenger seat, you'll soon forget why anyone cares.
1969 Plymouth Road Runner
Jack Brundage Seattle, Washington
- Engine: This tribute features a standard 440 with a 6-Pack mounted above the resto cam and later 906 heads. The combination makes for a driver friendly 9.7-1 compression ratio. The intake and carburetors are new Edelbrock and Holley reproductions (another plus to a tribute, NOS parts not required).
- Transmission: It's a Hemi four-speed, what else?
- Rear End: Dana 60 with 4.10 gears.
- Horsepower and Performance: 361 horsepower and 465 lb/ft torque. Jack has no plans to race this car, but it does nearly peg the fun and satisfaction meter. The guilt and worry gauge appears to be broken.
- Suspension: Mostly stock, and rebuilt with modern replacement parts.
- Brakes: Heavy Duty 11-inch drums
- Wheels and tires: Stock 15 x 7 inch steel wheels up front but wide 15 x 8 inch Stockton rims take their place on the back to accommodate some larger BF Goodrich T/A radials. Chrome lug nuts. No hubcaps.
- Restored by Muscle Car Restorations with PPG Sable Bronze poly paint. A reproduction lift off fiberglass hood was used.