According to Jim Catlett, "We've had people come up and offer us a lot of money for this car, and some of them are persistent. It just is not for sale."
In the world of automobiles, it seems like everything has a price. The things that play into a car's value are rarity, attractiveness, condition, and history. For Jim and Myrt Catlett of Chickamauga, Georgia, it's the final part of that equation that makes their Road Runner a precious commodity.
It was late in 1970 when the then-young couple had a chance to buy this car. The Road Runner had been ordered by the service manager at the dealership where Jim's father worked, and was optioned based on mechanical reliability and curb appeal. delivered to Parker-Warren Chrysler/Plymouth in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the car was trimmed out in a black-on-black scheme, powered by a 383 Magnum backed by a Torqueflite and an 8.75 Sure Grip differential. Options included power disc brakes, air conditioning, the Road Runner trim dcor group, and a vinyl roof.
Unfortunately for the original buyer, a family emergency kept him from taking delivery, so Jim's father called his son, and it subsequently became part of Jim and Myrt's lives. Myrt recalls how the car was used as a daily driver, how it hauled family possessions when they moved into their first home, and how it came to be more than simply a tool for travel. "We realized it was more than just a family car, it was more like part of the family," she said with a smile.
As their sons reached driving age, Jim and Myrt decided it might be wiser to begin working on the car as a show piece. By that time, it was the early '90s, and the car had 90,000-plus, well-maintained miles on it. Jim began checking around to get the parts and services needed to make the car like new.
The bodywork, which was not major, was done by a combination of shops in the north Georgia area. the final finish of X91X Black paint and trim decaling was the handiwork of Don's Custom Paint & Rod Shop and East Ridge Paint & Collision. Those of you who handle a paint gun know painting jet-black can be a bear, but this Road Runner's paint is as flawless and deep as it looks. The vinyl top was also replaced.
Meanwhile, Jim and some friends were busy getting the driveline reworked. Friend Wayne Nation rebuilt the 383 to stock specs. Jim, who owned a trucking company at that time, told him there was no big rush. he and Wayne laugh today when they realize it took five years to do the motor!
Don Wiley was responsible for doing all the super underhood and undercarriage detail work that has made the car a show winner. (this was after the body had been completely finished, and the engine was back between the fenders.) The 727 was redone by North Georgia Transmission, and the vinyl interior was the responsibility of Wendell's Trim Shop and Interior Solutions.
The results have spoken for themselves. The car has taken awards at almost every show it has been to, including first-in-class at Carlisle's All-Chrysler Nationals and at the Garlits Museum "Mopars at Big Daddy's" event, a second-in-class at the super-tough Mopar Nationals, and several Best Mopar awards at mixed shows. A long-standing family heritage in the Chickamauga region even finds the car doing parade duty at local events where the fourth generation of Catletts, Jim and Myrt's grandchildren, are now enjoying the Road Runner.
The boys are grown up, and the Catletts spend their spare time doing church work, spending time with their family, and shining the Road Runner. They happily admit the car has been a real source for making friends, meeting new people, and sharing their faith. The car is more than just another '71 Road Runner, it has become the epitome of the well-worn MasterCard commercials-priceless.
Owner: Jim and Myrt Catlett Chickamauga, Georgia
Body: '71 Road Runner
Color: Formal Black
Engine: Stock rebuilt 383 Magnum
Transmission: Stock rebuilt 727
Rearend: 8 3/4 with 3.23 gears and Sure Grip center
Wheels/Tires: 15-inch Rallye wheels, Goodyear Eagle ST tires