This month's member feature is a 1971 Road Runner owned by Bowman Hooks. He has owned this awesome ride since 1982 and even more awesome, he bought it for next to nothing!
Bowman's love affair with '71 Plymouth B Bodies starts when he was five. It was at this age that he saw Richard Petty drive the wheels of his 1971 stock car and he was hooked at the site. He told his father how much he loved the look of this ride and that one day, he too would own one. Fast forward to 1982 and young Bowman was bagging groceries in Ft. Monmouth, NJ to save up for a car. Perusing the local paper, one particular dealer listing jumped out and he quickly told his father. A 1971 Road Runner for less than $10! The hunt was on and the two later made it out to a Jeep dealership in nearby Little Falls, NJ. There basking in all of its glory was the car of Bowman's dreams...a 1971 Plymouth Road Runner.
Without hesitation, his father went in to find a salesman while Bowman waited in the car. When the ad was brought up, the salesman quickly told Mr. Hooks that they couldn't do that deal from the ad; the car had a sticker price of $1700. That was no good for Bowman's father, so the manager became involved. When he saw young Bowman and the newspaper clipping, the manager said, "Let the kid have it." As Bowman recalls, "We drove it next door at the Howard Johnson's to the dealership as we had no room there to load it. We rented a Uhaul trailer and off we went."
Now at home with the car of his dreams, Bowman was quick to get to work on the Road Runner. As the engine in the car had a blown head gasket along with other issues, the first task was a new motor. He worked hard and saved up for a fresh rebuilt engine from the local NAPA. "I put it in myself and since I had extra cash from working for awhile, I bought a new trans too. My friends helped me install some stuff and I got it together to drive to school the day I got my license." Unfortunately, within a year, his sister borrowed the family van and accidentally took out the door of the Road Runner. "I had to buy a 71 Satellite to replace all the dented up metal and primered the whole thing black.
These days, Bowman continues to enjoy and work on the Road Runner he bought with his dad back in 1982. It still wears black primer and is a sinister street machine, pro street machine that is. Despite breaking his foot in 2016, Bowman remained resilient and put in a new TCI transmission to tear up the competition. This year is all about getting some additional work done on the ole Beeper and he looks forward to getting the job done right while reflecting on the unique memories he has made over the years.
This month's member feature is David Tracy who brings us not one, but three stunning 1971 Plymouth B Bodies. While three mopars say a lot about a man's manufacturer allegiance, funny things is Dave was a bow tie man. "I never was a mopar guy at heart. Was a chevy guy." Despite this, his parents seemingly had a thing for Chrysler products. His father's first new car was a 1969 Dodge Dart GT 340 four-speed, the same one from the famous Dodge Fever ad. Even cooler, Dave's mom had heart attached to her Hemi orange 1970 roadrunner 383 four-speed with the awesome air grabber. So what made Dave change his mind about mopar? The fender tag. Yes, the small piece of metal that supplies some great information. Dave was entranced by the story the tag told as those were the options that a customer wanted on their special car. And that's just what led him to his pair of GTXs, the story.
The first, a Bahama Yellow GTX,was acquired by Dave on Craigslist five years ago. Somewhat of a barn find, the car had been passed around to members of a family who worked on it through the years. The second, a Glacier Blue GTX was found by Dave at a dealership in Indiana. A gentleman had traded the car to the dealer for a new Dodge Viper and it had been restored twenty years earlier. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of these two GTXs was the fact that they were I code cars meaning they were ordered overseas. By who you might ask? Well, Dave found out both vehicles were ordered by soldiers who were fighting in Vietnam at the time. "Just imagine being over there in that hell sitting in a ditch looking at the ad for these cars. Then all that dreaming and putting your order in through the PX to get them so they would be ready for pickup when you got out alive... if you did." According to Dave, he heard that there were only seven I code GTXs, but purchasing the Glacier Blue GTX meant it was number 8, so he just had to have it. As a proud USMC veteran,Dave say's there is no plan to sell these cars any time soon.
The last '71 Plymouth in Tracy's garage is a Sassy Grass V Code Road Runner. Look familiar? That's because it was the Registry's cover photo for the month of March! Dave purchased the car three years ago from a gentleman in New Jersey. "I fell in love with the color, numbers-matching 440 six barrel , the four-speed and the Dana rear. Supposedly the car was bought from a police in-pound lot and restored in Maine."
Dave continues to take good care of his three '71 B Bodies and is always looking to tackle the next vehicle project. In fact, he has a '70 FM3 Cuda on the workbench. He tell us he's not a typical car show guy, but one who enjoys interacting with the people behind the vehicles. These cars, while incredible in their looks and performance are nothing without the people behind them and their story. After all, that's what it's about and Dave Tracy is one who embodies and champions this concept.
While a great majority of this registry is made up of Road Runners, we can't forget about the entry level Plymouth B Body, the often overlooked Satellite! These cars are simply not given the respect they deserve, but that's about to change as we are in for a treat. This month, we highlight one of the most gorgeous original cars you'll see. Let's give it up for our registry members, Russ Jennings and his stunning 1971 Plymouth Satellite.
Born in 1960, Russ Jennings was one of the lucky ones, growing up during the hayday of the Muscle Car. At an early age, he had a fascination with automotive styling and while he grew up in a GM family, he was quick to fall in love with the unique styling and performance of Mopars. Owning one was a dream that would eventually come true when he came of driving age. His first car would be the underrated 1974 Satellite Sebring Sundance with a 318 CID engine and a 904 automatic transmission. Russ loved the car and drove it for several years, but he had a deep desire to own a '71 or '72 because of the styling differences. Not only that, but Russ was a NASCAR fan and Richard Petty had made an impact on him in the 1971 and 1972 seasons behind the wheel of a second-gen Road Runner. He would have to patiently wait a couple decades to take ownership of his dream car.
Despite building and subsequently selling a sleek '67 Dodge Charger in the late 80s, Russ wouldn't come across the opportunity to acquire the perfect '71 Plymouth until 2000. While skimming through the latest issue of Hemmings Motor News, he saw an ad for a 1971 Satellite. Equipped with a 318 CID engine, this car stood out as it was a solid California car and was being sold by its original owner for a mere $2,500! As Russ recalls, "That was about all the ad said and there were no pictures. The ad had been on for a few weeks, with no takers. I contacted the seller and once hearing his story, I knew the car and its owner were legit."
At the time, Russ lived in Mississippi, far away from the car and its original home. To make matters worse, the seller didn't have the ability to send pictures of the car. Russ had to make a tough decision. After some thoughtful deliberation, he decided to trust the owner and purchase the car, sight unseen. "I bought the car for $2,000 and paid 800.00 for the shipping." Russ began his journey to meet the shipper an hour away in New Orleans to take delivery of the Satellite. What arrived completely surprised him.
After the short drive from his home, Russ was greeted by a shipper who unloaded the greatly anticipated purchase. The Satellite was truly an unmolested California car with no rust, original paint and vinyl top. The seller included tedious maintenance records, sales documents, window sticker, dealer key tags, factory engine inspection tags and the original California plates. "Once I saw what I had, I decided to go 100 percent stock with a cosmetic restoration. I wanted to preserve history. I wanted the car to look and drive as it did in 1971." What that meant was going through the entire car and getting it back to exactly how it was when it left the dealer. "I didn't want anything there that wasn't time period correct. No club decals, no vanity license plates saying '71 Satellite' or anything that would not have been on the car in 1971." Russ embarked on the tasks at hand and did all the work himself, except the paint. The only alteration from stock was the additions of dual exhaust, Magnum 500 wheels, radial tires and the grille painted black.
The car has an interesting history, in that it was built June 30, 1971 at the Los Angeles assembly plant. This makes it one of the very last cars built in that plant, since the plant closed on or about July 1, 1971. It was shipped to Fair Chrysler Plymouth in Sacramento, CA where is sat until December of 1971 when the original owner bought it for his then 24 year old wife. They loved the car, and drove it over 150,000 miles! Since June 2000, the Satellite has been well-cared for by Russ and his wife who proudly share the history of this amazing ride. The car has won many judged events, but the Jennings are most proud of winning "best engine" at an all Mopar event in Louisiana. The Satellite is always driven to local and long distance shows, never trailered; a point of pride for Russ.
"My wife and I love to show the car, and when the situation calls for it, we will dress in time period clothing to relive history. I have no plans to ever sell the car, for I couldn't replace it with anything so solid and original."
This month's member feature comes to us from James Dent who is the proud owner of a sporty red 1971 Plymouth GTX. James grew up in Kirksville, MissouriI and got the car bug from his father, an army man who always drove older cars including a 1966 Pontiac Bonneville and a 1958 Cadillac.
Besides helping his dad out with the upkeep of the classics, James often spent time at the library going through endless books on muscle cars. He was particularly drawn to the front of the cars and was attracted to the looped front ends of the second-gen Chargers. Books weren't the only draw to the cars either, as James had plenty of exposure watching fast rides on film and television. From Bullitt to the Dukes of Hazzard, James needed one of these sleek rides and his mind was made up, it would be a mopar.
While this love of cars persisted throughout his youth, college became priority number one and James began his time at pharmacy school at the University of Kansas. Studying was fun and all, but the longing for a classic was ever present. As he recalls, "I started looking for a car and saw a 1971 Road Runner for sale in Missouri. Unfortunately, it needed a lot of work. So, I would look online from time to time hoping to find a car."
Fast forward to graduation and still no ride he could call his own. On top of that, it was at this time James went active duty in the Air Force because he had received a Health Professions Scholarship and owed 3 years of service. Lucky for him, James came across a sweet bargain, but it wasn't a mopar. While a '70 GTO was awesome, it was not a Dodge or a Plymouth. "Mopars were all really expensive. My plan was to keep the GTO and hopefully trade if the right deal came along."
Driving the goat was fun, but James still hadn't found what he was looking for and kept thinking about the '71 Road Runner he had seen for sale a few years prior. One day he decided to dedicate some serious time online searching for a righteous B Body and it wasn't long until he came upon a Tor Red 1971 Plymouth GTX for sale at Grand Rapids Classics in Michigan. "The car had been for sale for several weeks but no one had really wanted it because it was an automatic on the column. It appealed to me because it still had the original interior including the buddy seat." While it wasn't a Road Runner, it was a step up... a GTX with high impact paint and a potent 440 V8 engine. After some back and forth, James struck a deal and became the proud new owner of this gentleman's muscle car. "At the time I didn’t know a lot about mopars but I quickly learned what made this car a GTX. I lucked out, I always wanted a fast mopar with a 440. The sound and power they produce is second to none!" Upon delivery of the car, James quickly began to make memories by taking it out on cruises and enjoying the vehicle he had always wanted.
Like many of us, he was extremely curious about the car's history and searched for build sheets, receipts and any other clues that would help paint a picture on the life of this car. Between its production at the Windsor plant to its time at GR Classics, little to nothing was known of the GTX's past with the exception of one previous owner David Grizzel, who was a court officer that unfortunately passed away. After his death, the car was listed at an auction from which it was acquired by the dealership. Despite sharing the difficulty most of us do tracing our car's history, James remains hopeful that more information will be revealed as he continues to patiently research and follow up on potential leads. In the meantime, James, a family man, thoroughly enjoys being an owner of a '71 Plymouth and takes exceptional care of it through a network of friends he has made especially Dan Peacock from Mopars Unlimited. Fittingly, the gentleman from Kirksville owns what forever will be known as the "gentleman's muscle car."
The 1971 Plymouth B Body Registry would like to thank James Dent for his service to our country. Thank you Captain!
If you have any information on the history of James Dent's car, please contact him through messenger on Facebook.
The first feature for 2019 comes from our friend and fellow Mopar enthusiast, Cody Cole who is the Car Feature Editor at Mopar Connection Magazine. Sit back, relax and enjoy as Cody takes you on a journey that landed him a sweet '71 and made him an official member of this registry.
Ask any Mopar fanatic if they have a favorite Mopar and they’ll tell you. Personally, while I love all types of Mopars, B-bodies have a special place in my heart. While I’ve owned an A-body Duster and still want to get my hands on an E-body someday, I’ve always owned multiple B-bodies. Growing up with my 1969 Dodge Charger, those big muscular body lines had me hooked from an early age. For the longest time, I can admit I was only into strictly 1968-1970 examples when it came to B-bodies. It wasn’t until about ten years ago that I started to notice the 1971-1974 examples, especially the 1971s. There was just something about the styling and body lines of the 1971 Dodge and Plymouth B-bodies that I loved. The desire to own one grew more and more with every passing year.
Around 2010, a friend was working on a deal to purchase a restored FJ6 Sassy Grass 1971 Plymouth GTX. Included in the deal was a matching FJ6 GTX parts car that had been pretty heavily parted and cut up. However, it was still build-able. He told me if he bought them, I could have the parts car. This really fueled the desire to have a 1971 B-body. Unfortunately, the deal fell thru so I never was able to get it. Later that year, I found a dark brown 1971 Plymouth Satellite sitting under a bunch of trees. Besides a missing hood and tail light lenses, it was a complete car with the drive train. Rust wasn’t too bad and I saw the potential in it.
I continued to drive past the Satellite for a few more years, never really stopping by to ask about it. In early 2014, I posted a picture of it on Facebook and was immediately messaged by a friend of mine. He knew the owner and said the owner would sell it. Excited, I called the owner and discussed it. The price was right. He said it was at a rental house of his and I was welcome to go by and take a full look at it. After looking at it, I contacted the owner and let him know I wanted it but needed to find a place to store it. He told me “no rush, it wasn’t going anywhere”. While I worked on finding a place to put it, I started thinking about how I’d build it. After some deliberation, I decided I’d build it into an orange 4 speed Road Runner replica (keep this in mind for later)!
Around that time, I was considering selling my 1973 Plymouth Duster so I hummed and hawed about the idea of selling it and using the money to get the Satellite cleaned up and in driver condition; as well as freeing up a parking spot. Around eight months later, I decided I’d sell my Duster to make room and funds available for the Satellite so I drove by the Satellite to check on it; that’s when I noticed it was gone. I contacted the owner to find out if he still had it. That’s when he said, “Some of it is around here somewhere”. It turns out he ended up needing to move the car, so he took it home and chopped it up for parts. I was pretty devastated but realized I should have acted quicker.
In late 2015 and into 2016, I was bit badly by the 1971 Charger bug. I had my sights set on a beautiful 1971 Super Bee replica but after that deal fell through, I starting searching for another 1971 Charger; while keeping 1971 Plymouth B-bodies in the back of my mind. After messaging a good friend 12 hours east of me and discussing purchasing his Citron Yella 1971 Charger R/T project, I made the trek out to his place to buy the car and bring it home in July 2016. I could tell from the minute I left for his place that he really didn’t want to sell the R/T. He had a special place in his heart for the car as he had grown up around it. It was a staple car in his childhood. When he texted me shortly after I left my house to head his way saying “If the R/T doesn’t work out, I may have a 1971 Road Runner or two here that might suit your fancy better”; that had my interest peaked.
After making the drive 12 hours east to his house, I arrived. He started showing me the 1971 Charger R/T explaining its history to him all while constantly hinting that he probably had another car that would be better for me. While I really wanted the R/T, I entertained the idea of something else and took a look at what else he had. After showing me quite a few cars, he asked if I liked 1971 Road Runners. I quickly replied “Definitely!” so he took me over to where he had a couple. One of them caught my eye right away. It was an original 383 4 speed 1971 EV2 Tor Red (orange) Road Runner. To make it even better, it was an original rare Halloween interior (black and orange seats) car! The offer of purchasing that was very tempting but I wanted the R/T more and had traveled all that way to purchase it so I decided to stick with that one and loaded it up.
From the minute I left his place with the R/T in tow, I kept finding myself thinking about the Road Runner. I had the money to purchase it but again found myself with no storage space (story of my life). In September 2016, I started talking to him about the Road Runner. I mentioned my interest in it, in which he replied “If you want the orange Road Runner and would do something with it, I would sell it”. Over the next two months, we chatted about it and finally agreed to a price; a steal in my opinion. By this point we were nearing Christmas time so I decided to purchase it for myself for Christmas. Not only had I purchased my first 4 speed car but I also finally had one of each kind of 1971 B-body but also had one problem; where was I going to put it?
Over the next five months, I kept thinking of a place to put it. If you don’t know me, you have to know that I literally have cars stored EVERYWHERE. All of my newer stuff is at my house however all of my older Mopars are in various storage locations at both family and friend’s houses. It was around this time that I finally decided I was going to part out and cut up my 1970 Coronet I’ve had stored at my mom’s since 2012; something I had thought about for a few years now. It’s simply too far gone. When I found out the headache it would be to try and get the registration; that was the nail in the coffin. After explaining to my mom that I needed a place to put the Road Runner, she told me if I got rid of the Coronet I could put it there. Perfect.
At the end of June, I made the 12 hour trek out to my friend’s place to pick up the Road Runner. I hauled another friend’s 1969 Super Bee project to his new place on the way and then continued on to where the Road Runner was. I spent the entire weekend there and I must say; it was the best time I have ever had while buying a car. I really do have to thank him and his wife for all their hospitality!
Now let’s get into the details of the car itself. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a 1971 Plymouth Road Runner that came from the factory with a 383-4bbl 4 speed. It was EV2 Tor Red with the Halloween interior. Orange is my favorite colour so this combo is a definite win for me. It’s a pretty basic bare bones car built in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Based on the fender tag decoding, it also came equipped with a 22 inch radiator, AM radio, dual exhaust and the V21 performance hood treatment. Stripe delete car. Based on looking at the car and older pictures of it, it also looks like it came with the A87 Road Runner Décor Group, hood pins and rubber bumper guards/strips too but I have to try and dig out a build sheet to confirm those.
Much of the history of the car is unknown. I’ve been told it was a central Alberta car much of its life, possibly sold new at Turnbull Motors in Edmonton, Alberta. Another friend of mine knows the car and has since the ‘80s. He sent me a picture of it parked in a trailer park in the early- mid ‘80s. In the picture, you can see it sitting out in the snow wearing 14” Road wheels and a CB antenna drilled into the Dutchman panel (it still has that hole!). There is a “Parks Canada” decal on the windshield from 1985. In the mid-late ‘80s, the Road Runner suffered a pretty hard hit after it collided with a fire hydrant according to rumors. The accident caused pretty heavy damage to the entire passenger front corner. Thankfully, the hood was spared for the most part. The original 383 and 4 speed set-up was taken out and sold and the car has been off the road since. In the early ’90s, my friend found it sitting on an acreage near Millet, Alberta and purchased it. He’s had it sitting in storage ever since until I purchased it last month. The friend who took the picture of it at the trailer park earlier on also sent me pictures of it sitting in a storage yard in the late ’80s- early ’90s.
For now, the Road Runner has been placed in storage. The plans are to simply clean it, empty out the various parts and document everything. It needs quite a bit of rust and accident damage repairs but eventually, it will be restored back to stock with a few additions such as front and rear spoilers and Rallye wheels.
Cody Cole is a car feature editor for Mopar Connection Magazine, the fastest-growing digital magazine for MOPAR enthusiasts – and is the only digital publication of its type to be recognized and officially licensed through MOPAR.
Mopar Connection Magazine publishes its articles daily and completely free to you – requiring no sign-ins, apps, downloads, or passwords to access our subscription-free content, making it the single-most accessible MOPAR magazine in the industry.
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Our Member Feature this month focuses on Ken King and his fantastic 1971 Plymouth GTX, "The Green Monster." This is our first GTX Member Feature!
Growing up in central New Jersey, Ken had an affection for cars early in life thanks to his grandfather who owned a 1941 Dodge. Working on the old car would sharpen Ken's mechanical skills and sow the seed of mopar affection. His desire to educate himself would lead to Ken joining the Army to help pay for school where he would earn his degree in mechanical engineering. Ken's first car was a 1974 Dodge Charger powered by a 318 CID V8 and while the Dodge B Body was nice, Ken longed for more power which led to his hunt for a big block car. In 1985, he found that car in New Brunswick, New Jersey, a 1971 GTX.
A little background on the GTX: Plymouth fielded a considerably fiery contender to the muscle car arena back in 1967 with its offering of the GTX, a Belvedere transformed into the “Gentleman’s Muscle Car” via bucket seats, luxury sport features and best of all a big powerplant in the form of a 440 or the legendary 426 street Hemi. The following year proved to be a game-changer for the GTX as it moved to the Satellite series model and was the top-of-the-line in terms of extravagance and performance! 1971 would be the last year of the standalone GTX before the nameplate was combined with the Road Runner in 1972 for their top of the line performance model. The 1971 model year saw only 2,942 GTXs produced compared Road Runner with production at 14,218. Back to the Feature!
The Plymouth was sold to Ken by the original owner's son and while it was a solid roller, the rest of it was in rough shape. The interior was shotty and the engine needed an overhaul. That didn't matter to the mechanically inclined Ken who was dedicated to getting the green beauty back to life. Powering this Plymouth was the rare V code 440 Six Barrel Engine rated at 385 horsepower and capable of running the quarter mile at just under 14.80 seconds. Just 135 GTXs were produced with the 440+6 making it one rare piece. In addition to the small production run, Ken's GTX was a bench seat with an automatic column shifter linked to the hearty 727 torqueflite transmission.
While serving in the Army, Ken patiently restored the GTX back to its former glory and in 1996, the potent muscle car was back on the streets. However, his selfless service kept him away from enjoying the fruits of his labor. Through several duty cycles and three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Ken sacrificed a lot time away from his car and most importantly his family.
In June 2018, he retired from the Army after 30 years of service to his country. Today, Ken keeps busy working on his vehicles which include a 1970 Dodge Challenger he finished restoring in 2013, a 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8, a 1941 half track and fittingly, a 1941 Dodge Business Coupe, just like the one he and his grandfather worked on years ago. Ken says that working on the vehicles is therapy and helps him release stress from his years in the service. The 1971 Plymouth B Body Registry would like to thank Ken King, a Purple Heart Recipient, for his sacrifice and service to our country. Thank you Sir!
Despite having two members lined up for this month’s feature, life happens and I needed to cover someone’s story before the month ended. I sought a suitable replacement and it did not take long to elect myself to fill in the gap. So without further ado, here’s my story.
Growing up in an old Sears-Roebuck home sitting on five acres of woods with the rusted remains of vehicles sparked the imagination of a young boy. My grandfather Herb had acquired this magnificent collection of what my family referred to as junk throughout the years of towing he did for the township. Prior to hooking up vehicles he earned the distinction of being one of Ford’s top salesmen back in the 1960s. It was during this time that his affinity for Blue Oval machines took shape and subsequently dictated what his clan would drive. From F-100s to Thunderbirds, Herb’s family was unwavering in its dedication to Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products. While I may be exaggerating a bit, it sure felt that way growing up.
My first car was a ’92 Crown Victoria LX that comfortably sat six passengers and while I enjoyed driving the land yacht nicknamed Sharice, I began taking note of the classics in my back yard as well as my dad’s tastes for vehicles. He grew up driving a little bit of everything. GTOs, Chevelles, Vegas, Cudas, Chargers… you name it. The thing they all shared in common was that they didn’t last long thanks to him or one of his friend’s questionable driving feats. You can thank them for seeing less of some of these beauties. Yet, the one car that my father fondly remembered was his sister’s 1970 Plymouth Fury III which he took for a joy ride and wrecked. He would tell me often of the whipping he received from my grandfather when he found out what had happened.
Three decades later, while taking a drive on the rural highways of South Jersey, he spotted a Fury in a field and came back the same day to buy it. It was at this moment that I caught the mopar bug. The car itself was a bit crusty, but the stunning lines unique to a full size Plymouth were all there. The drive home was unlike anything I had ever experienced; new sounds and smells beckoned my heart for more. During the next two summers I helped my dad with the Fury and got it to a point of dependability. So much so that we decided to embark on the three hour cruise to the All Chrysler Nationals in Carlisle, PA.
For the next two years, we faithfully journeyed to Mopar Mecca and made memories drenched in sweat and the well-deserved beer. Pacing down the aisles of Chrysler’s finest, I came across the ’71 Plymouth B Bodies whose looks enamored me to the core. It quickly dawned upon me that this model was the same Richard Petty had driven to the championship in 1971. It was a no brainer, I wanted, no needed to own a 1971 Road Runner. As soon as we got home, I began the hunt for a Road Runner keeping in mind that I had a limited budget. It needed to run and drive at the very least and oh, be Corporate (Petty) Blue. That naïve mindset was quickly met with reality in that the chances of checking all those boxes was slim to none. Drop the color requirement and the options slightly grew, yet I didn’t have $25K or more to spend.
Over the course of a year, it was evident that I would not buying a ’71 anytime soon and crazily, I decided I would allow 1973 Road Runners in the mix of my hunt. I journeyed to West Virginia, cash in hand to purchase a bright orange ’73 Satellite cloned into a Beeper. I quickly realized upon initial inspection that the driver side fender was being held up by six washers. Disappointed with the long drive home I now faced with no car, my parents reminded me that I was searching for a ’71, not a ’73 and that I should be patient.
About two months later I had been reading the latest issue of Hemmings Motor News when I discovered a 1971 Road Runner located in Export, Pennsylvania just outside Pittsburgh. I quickly called the owner and indeed the car was still for sale. His son had purchased it four years prior for his birthday, but he was a Pontiac guy and was not too keen on the Plymouth. We made arrangements to meet and I hopped in the van with my parents for the six hour drive west.
As we arrived, the F7 green Road Runner was parked in the driveway with its owner wiping off the dust that had accumulated after months of sitting. After some small talk, he handed me the keys and I was off on a test drive with my dad who beat the living crap out of the car, at a distance of course. “I think this is the one Rowl.” I grinned ear to ear as we pulled into the driveway. With game faces on, we negotiated and struck a deal. The car was mine and I was in pure bliss. That pure bliss quickly subsided as I drove the Beeper down the PA turnpike with endless issues. Back firing, dirty fuel, bad ballast resistor, this bird was struggling to make it back to it new home. Thankfully my dad had brought along some extra ballast resistors with him and we managed to diagnose the minor issues. Finally in its new home, the Road Runner was quickly subjugated to a mechanical tear down to make sure it was road ready and most importantly safe.
In the course of seven years, Doug, as I named the car, underwent many trips to the garage to get out all the bugs and a trip to the body shop in 2015 for a partial restoration. Gone was the gull wing, chin spoilers and strobe stripe that the car had. Decoding the fender tag resulted in a streamlined F7 Road Runner with the addition of a factory trailer hitch purchased from fellow mopar enthusiast. The car has journeyed to Carlisle five times and continues to run strong. Friends and heroes including Steve Magnante, Tim Wellborn, Dale Inman and Richard Petty have all signed the car. It has become a member of the family as well as an extension of myself. There are days when I curse at it and then there are those days where I stare and think, boy... John Herlitz got this car right. I learn something new about these incredible machines every day thanks to my mopar family and fellow members of this registry. I have driven many classic cars in my life, but nothing comes close to my Road Runner.
Welcome to the first Member Feature that will be posted monthly to highlight one of the registry's members and their vehicle. We start off with Robert Johnson of Austin, Texas who recently obtained a killer V Code Road Runner in the spring and has a great story to boot.
Robert grew up in Corsicana, Texas, an environment abundant with proud owners of Chevrolets and Fords. While being exposed to the blue ovals and bow ties was all well and good, Robert longed for a change in scenery. It wasn't long when he came across a brand new four-door '71 Satellite parked in his grandfather's driveway. Entranced by the suave lines and sportiness of the Satellite, Robert was instantly hooked. The Mopar seed was planted and he quickly became obsessed with all things Chrysler related.
While attending automotive trade school in Waco, Robert befriended a fellow gear head from Houston who owned a '71 Hemi Road Runner. During a lunch break, Robert took a drive down to check the B Body out and what followed ultimately changed his life. The sleek muscle machine was bought by his friend's father from the Goodyear Testing Facility in El Paso. Robert stated, "When I saw it, that was it. That's when I decided to try and find something like that. It really grabbed me. It was a white, bench seat, blue interior." From that moment on, a 71 was all he wanted and the hunt began.
Fast forward to 2004, Robert had the opportunity to purchase a '71 beeper from a high school friend. The plan was to make the car into a Hemi tribute, just like the one he saw years prior. Time and money were spent on parts and labor, but it became apparent that the project was too much to bear. Robert sold the car back to his friend in 2006 and wiped the slate clean with a new mission... find a V code.
In December 2016, Robert began his search for a 440 Six Barrel '71 Road Runner and it was not until April 2018 that one was found. A post on Facebook led Robert to a EV2 bench seat four-speed which he quickly jumped upon. While things looked promising, one of Robert's friends, Ron Kirkpatrick, thought he should continue his search. Two more V codes popped up including a Sassy Grass four speed and an In-Violet car out of Maryland. The former did not pan out as the seller would not return Robert's calls despite agreeing on a price. Plan B was initiated and he hopped on a plane to Baltimore the weekend before the Mopar Nats to check out the purple car. If all went well, Robert was going to purchase this car and drive up to Ron's place so he could do some work on it. To his dismay, the car was a victim of Hurricane Sandy and had an array of issues. "I pulled a mig welding wire about 3 inches long from one of the torque boxes. The vin stamp on the core support was in a very weird place. I decided to walk."
Disheartened by the experience in Maryland, Robert was encouraged by Kirkpatrick and his wife to not give up and remain patient. The trio went up to the Mopar Nationals where they met 197 Plymouth B Body Registry member Dale Matthews who owns a couple of awesome '71 Plymouth B Bodies. After listening to Robert's story, Dale directed him to the car corral where a nice EV2 V Code was posted for sale. Robert and Ron walked over and carefully looked over the car and were taken back by its condition. The Plymouth was equipped with the numbers-matching engine and four-speed transmission as well as the bullet-proof Dana 60 rear with 3:54 gears. The owner approached the two and the conversation began. "All the paperwork was there(he had a bunch). It was the one. He was very very particular about who was going to end up with her." A deal was later struck and Robert became the proud owner of the EV2 Road Runner. Several weeks later, he took a flight out to Cleveland to finalize the deal and the car was shipped to Texas.
Today, Robert thoroughly enjoys his dream car and has installed 4:10 gears with TTI long tube headers that allow the 440 to rumble with authority.
It is his goal to to trace the ownership history of the car. He knows it was sold new in Cleveland and a previous owner used to race it. While the complete history of the car may never be known, what is clear is that the car conveys just as much coolness as its owner. Robert's band, Robert Johnson's Soul that can be heard at venues around Austin and should be given a listen to via iTunes, Spotify and Facebook.
Rowland George is a 1971 Plymouth B Body enthusiast and researcher dedicated to acquiring information on behalf of owners and those interested in learning more about these iconic classic cars.