Lovers of classics definitely know their top picks when it comes to elegance and performance. Amidst the numerous famous classic muscle cars, such as the 1964 Pontiac and the 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, sits a lovely muscle car produced in the 70s; the 1972 Plymouth Road Runner. Well, many millennials might not really know about this brilliant muscle car since it’s no longer being produced and its manufacturer has since become defunct. So, let’s take a brief look into its history.
Plymouth, the manufacturing company of the roadrunner, sold tons of cars under Chrysler until the late ’90s. Notably, the company eventually left the automotive production scene in 2001 after it produced its last car, Neon.
Although Plymouth has since left the market, the brand’s name still reverberates in the industry thanks to the amazing cars it produced in the past, and these include numerous cool and beautiful muscle cars like the 1972 Plymouth Road Runner.
A Brief Background History Of The Plymouth Road Runner
The production of the Road Runner started in 1968 and continued through to 1980 when it was finally replaced with the Volare. This legendary classic muscle car got its name from the Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner cartoon made by Warner Bros. Plymouth paid a huge sum of $50,000 just to get the right to use the name “Road Runner.”
Before its official release, muscle cars were already gaining more popularity and acceptance, and this also meant more money for the manufacturing companies. Back then, muscle cars were becoming increasingly expensive, hence, the “low-priced” market segment became a target for Chrysler and this led to the production of the Road Runner by Plymouth. The roadrunner was relatively cheaper when compared with other muscle cars, and most muscle car enthusiasts are forever grateful to Plymouth for providing them with an affordable muscle car option.
In need of a muscle car to look cool in those days, but lacked enough money to get one? You’re good to go with a Plymouth roadrunner: efficient, adorable, and a lot more affordable than most muscle cars.
Through its production time, Plymouth made some major changes on the Road Runner.
The earliest Road Runner models have a boxy exterior, but the company later changed this design in the 1971 model.
What Makes The 1972 Plymouth Road Runner Different?
The 1972 Road Runner remains one of the best looking American muscle cars in the history of classic muscle cars. The major difference between the 1972 edition and the previous editions is the design of the exterior.
The upgraded and monstrous look of the 1972 edition was first introduced in 1971. Compared to earlier versions of the Road Runner, the 1972 model has a low body with a low center of gravity, and this helps reduce the risk of rollover when cornering at high speed. Plymouth matched its low front fender with a slightly raised rear bumper, giving it the perfect “muscle car look.”
The 1972 Plymouth Road Runner also added a unique grill shape to further enhance the beauty of the car.
1972 Plymouth Road Runner: Fitted With A Potent Powertrain
The Road Runner did not only have an elegant exterior, it was also given a befitting engine. Plymouth endowed the Road Runner with a Chrysler 426 Hemi engine, while it also had the option of Chrysler’s 440 Six Pack engine. Plymouth introduced the 426 Hemi engine in the earliest versions of the Road Runner in 1968 and continued till the 1972 edition. It was one of the best engines Chrysler ever manufactured.
Plymouth’s super engine put out a maximum output of 490 horsepower at 5,000 rpm, while it is also capable of accelerating from rest to 60 mph under 6 seconds – highly remarkable for a cheap car in its days.
Unfortunately, the beginning of the downfall of the roadrunner came when emission regulations changed. This resulted in a massive reduction in the maximum output, which means new, less efficient engines. Plymouth discontinued the production of the Roadrunner with the 426 Hemi engine and 440 Six Pack engine. Instead, it opted for a Chrysler 5.2-liter engine in subsequent models. The new engine produced less power, which in turn caused a crash in sales.
How Much Does A 1972 Plymouth Road Runner Cost Today?
Today, the average cost of a Road Runner ranges between $20,000 to $30,000. However, according to Hagerty, this depends on a number of factors. The most important factor remains the reason why it was called a muscle car in the first place; the engine. The price of a 1972 Road Runner with a factory fitted 426 Hemi engine could be as high as $100,000 or more. Another factor that determines price is the condition of the car.
Despite the Road Runner’s shaky history, it rocked the muscle car’s world. The Road Runner sold tons of its cars both in and outside the United States. But it was a short-lived victory for Plymouth.
After the reduction in its performance due to emission regulations, sales dropped. The changing of the 1973 design back to the boxy shapes also made things worse.
Plymouth stopped manufacturing the Road Runner in 1980, replacing it with a newer model, the Volare.
The 1972 Plymouth roadrunner ranks high among the best classic muscle cars, and its significance in the automotive industry is still being felt several decades after.
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