This '70 Road Runner belonging to Joe Marchi of Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania, came to him via the best motivation a car guy could have. It was the summer of 1994, and according to Joe, "My wife, Karen, always liked convertibles, and I was looking for a project [car]." Joe rescued the bird from certain demise as time and wear had taken a heavy toll.
"The car needed extensive bodywork," Joe says. "It was a basket case. I took classes on bodywork and painting at the local community college. I have always done some of the work on my own cars, and I was able to do about 90 percent of the work on this one. I enjoy the tinkering. It's recreation for me."
Among those other cars were a '6911/42 Six Barrel Road Runner and a '68 Hemi hardtop Road Runner. One of the reasons Joe likes his latest bird so much is it's a little less intense than the other two. "This '70 is a more easy-going ride," he says.
But, apparently, this Road Runner was more than just a Sunday cruiser in its previous life. "Upon disassembly," Joe says, "we found a pistol under the seat." [We've heard of cars being equipped with a Pistol Grip, but...-Ed.]
Joe's Road Runner still bears the original 383 engine, which is rated at 335 hp. TRW flat-top pistons pump at a 10:1 compression ratio. Being an original mill, it contains almost all stock components, including the Carter AVS carb, a 3.23-gear, a 831/44 Sure Grip rearend, a cast-iron 383 intake, and the transmission and shifter. Joe fires it off with a Chrysler electronic ignition system. One modification he did point out was the presence of the 452 heads.
The interior has also been restored by the book, with stock pieces including white vinyl covering for the bucket seats, a woodgrain steering wheel, an AM/FM stereo, and the dash cluster. The car not only features air conditioning, but also a more primitive form of A/C-a convertible top. Any car that carries this feature in its last year of production enjoys a subsequent increase in value, and 1970 was the last year for the Road Runner ragtop.
When it came time to put plumage on the bird, there was little doubt Joe would stick to the factory shade. A new skin of FJ5 Limelight was soon gleaming on the Road Runner's body. Some other exterior features that came from the factory on this car include hood pins, rear bumper guards, and the stripe package that includes the side-panel dust trail. This is where one of Joe's deviations from stock came into play. "The car was [going] to have a black hood stripe," he says, but Karen preferred white. So it's white." Simple as that.
"I want to thank my wife and family for their patience through two years of work," Joe says. "I also want to thank my brother, Bob, for some clutch help, my friend Dave White for the engine rebuild help, and Allen's Driveline for their work on the suspension and transmission."
The bright feathers on this Road Runner attract the attention of even the novice bird watcher. Thanks to the efforts of Joe and his friends, it runs just as well-if not better-than the day it was hatched.