The Road Runner was an ad agency's dream. The first ad came out in the September '67 issue of Hot Rod magazine. It was a double-page, full-color ad done in the whimsical cartoon style showing the Road Runner car and the Road Runner cartoon character on the Bonneville Salt Flats. The Road Runner (bird) was dangling a racing helmet from one of his wings, displaying his ever-present and confident smile. the amazing thing was Chrysler got the rights to use the Warner Brothers cartoon character for next to nothing; they were able to negotiate the deal with a kid fresh out of college and new at Warner.
The car was originally offered as a post hardtop and hardtop coupe. Sales figures were 44,598 in 1968, with the sales doubling in 1969 to more than 85,000 units-pretty good considering only 5,000 sales were originally planned for 1968. No doubt winning Motor Trend's Car of the Year award didn't hurt. In 1970, the car's body style changed to the squarer look, and the 440-6 became an optional package that was offered beyond the limited run made in 1969. Almost 40,000 Road Runner versions were built that year. The '71 saw a completely new body style, but the sales dropped dramatically with only 14,000 units sold. The '72 was not much better; the '73 again received a refreshed look, which helped sales rise to over 17,000 units. In 1974, sales dropped off slightly, and in 1975 and 1976, the Road Runner name was more of an added package to the Fury. Sales were not good since the musclecar era was quickly coming to an end. The Road Runner name appeared on the Plymouth Volare in 1977. Until then, the Road Runner had always been a B-Body, but with gas prices rising and insurance rates high, the F-Body seemed to be the best package. The car was slightly refreshed in 1980; now more of a trim package than anything of great performance. the rest of the industry was eliminating their musclecar offerings altogether, but Chrysler, even though they were facing bankruptcy, was still offering some performance cars. Sadly in 1981, there was no more Road Runner. The name would disappear completely, even until today. Some say it's a blessing, as it would be sacreligious to use the name on anything other than what the car originally represented.
This year's Mopar Nationals celebrates the Tribute to the Road Runner-the most-bang-for-the-buck musclecar that appealed to the masses. Offered in convertible, hardtop, and coupe versions in the early years (1968-1970), the price today has gone beyond investment grade. Hemi examples are almost hitting the 100K figure and beyond. Make sure you stop by the Mopar Nats Road Runner Tribute display to see the Beep-Beep cars, and take a step back in time to when horsepower was King and offered at bargain prices.