Welcome to August (Already!!! Are you kidding me??? Last month of summer...) 2006's Mopar of the Month. We are very proud to have Andy Wade's unrestored 1968 Hemi Road Runner featured right here on Maple Leaf Mopars. If you have been visiting MLM for any length of time you will quickly remember Andy as the long time Mopar enthusiast who has had some of the very best Mopar Muscle that has ever been unleashed onto the streets. Two of which are amongst my favorite cars of all time; a sinister Black on Black 1970 Hemi Road Runner and an eye popping Copper Metallic Six Pack 1969-1/2 Super Bee. Andy's present stable is nothing to be sneezed at either but we'll leave that story for another day!!!
In the middle 1960's when Chrysler dominated NASCAR and Drag Racing, its Hemi engines just had no equals. When the different sanctioning bodies ruled that the powerhouse HEMI had to be available as a option for its production cars or be withdrawn from competition Chrysler had no choice but to develop a street Hemi package for 1966 (sure there were some race versions of the Hemi available in 1965 and later but lets stick to the street Hemi). They chose to work on the mechanical side and developed a fine detuned version of the race Hemi along with the necessary drivetrain and suspension upgrades. These great drivetrains found homes in the 1966 Chargers, Coronets, Belvederes and Satellites. Great performs, yeah! Sleepers, you bet!!! Exciting, hmmm not really. Chrysler realized this and starting working on getting an exciting image for their cars. New for 1967 were the Coronet R/T's and GTX's. They added some scoops, stripes, cool names, and some image that had worked so well selling the much slower competition. It was better, but there was still work to be done. They still had by far the best drivetrain available but lacked the proper package to put it in.
That brings us to 1968. If any company ever hit a home run with styling and image it was the 1968 Chrysler products. The changed over night from building the subdued to cutting edge cars! The restyled b-body platform was very attractive and lended itself well to taking different forms. It still maintain a the classic basic look in its economy wrapper, but could easily be dressed up as an all out heart stopper. Case in point the 1968 Dodge Charger, high on many lists of the best looking car of all time! If the Charger had the style the newly released Road Runner had the image. Maybe the all marketing coup, the Road Runner was the answer to the question that hadn't been asked yet and caught all of North America by storm. Plymouth quite simply stuff their best drivetrain into the very eye pleasing 1968 b-body shell, gave it heavy duty suspension and brakes, took off anything that added weight and made it optional and topped it off with a great name Road Runner.
Even in its 383 form this car was a handful on the streets. Every Road Runner was a performance car and the quickly gained a street image of a force that could not be taken lightly. Best of all it was cheap. It brought Mopar muscle to the masses. Pretty much anyone could make the payments. Your basic 383 Road Runner could be had for around $3,000 and the one engine option, the 426 Hemi could still keep the car priced under $4,000. Chrysler had succeeded in gaining the image to go along with its second to none performance in 1968!!!
With the new found excitement for its products, Chrysler quickly turned the Dodge and Plymouths into youth market cars and tried to improve the packages available. Although not the first year for the Hemi it was the first year that style came close to equaling performance.
In the beginning the Road Runner was only available in the basic two door coupe, with its pop out windows. This brings us to Andy's Road Runner. Scheduled to be built on July 12th, it was assembled at the tail end of production for the 1968's. It is a hardtop (roll down quarter windows) features a black deluxe bench seat interior with carpet, not the basic taxi cab and rubber floor mat soo many Runners came with. Was dressed up with a black vinyl roof, tinted glass and rocker mouldings (along with the trunk panel moulding that was standard with the Road Runner hardtop and ran the length of the trunk and tied the two tail lamp housings together).
Andy's Hemi Road Runner was a three owner life-long South Carolina car until it was located and brought it north of the border in Canada in 2002 by its previous owner. Although being a low mile car (44,000 miles) the original Hemi engine was tired so the previous owner pulled it out and got famed Hemi builder Tim Banning at FHO (For Hemi's Only) to do a stock rebuild. A 20 thousands overbore, a 495-479-227-108 MP camshaft, new pistons, rings, bearing etc, a calculated 9.3 to 1 compression ratio, a balanced rotating assembly and fresh heads later Tim conservatively estimated the Hemi to produce 465 horses!!! At the same time the 18 spline numbers matching tranny along with the date code correct Dana (packing 3:54 gears) were taken apart and gone through.
Andy says that this is one fine running and driving car. It pulls out nice, steers, stops and shifts great and is just an all around blast to drive. "Its like having the best of both worlds, a rebuilt trouble free drivetrain wrapped up in a car that you can actually drive and enjoy unlike the full resto trailer queens."
Closing in on its 40th birthday this Hemi Runner has retained approximately two thirds of its factory applied GG1-Racing Green Metallic paint!!!
This is a definitely what you see is what you get car...it doesn't hide anything. The original paint covers all the metal that it was born with. This is an all original metal car with the exception of some metal work that saved the original trunk pan. What you are looking at is a 100% original interior with the addition of the much needed "back in the day" Sun column mounted tach. The Hurst shifter is legit on late build 1968 Road Runners replacing the very sloppy "guess a gear" Inland units. Sometimes it pays to be late and get a car with a few of the bugs worked out. Of course this car features the bench seat 4-speed combo like they all should and to keep the low frill and high thrills theme going and your fitness level up, Armstrong steering and manual brakes.
New for 1968 Mopars was the engine stamped with the last 8 digits of the dash VIN (in this case 8G280411). This stamping is located at the back of the engine where the bellhousing would bolt into the block at the 12 o'clock position. Please note there is no machine pad like the 1969 and up engines, just the numbers on the rough cast surface. Prior to 1968 there is no such thing as a Mopar with a matching numbers engine...you can have date code correct but there is no stamped numbers to verify. If you are told this turn quickly and run away!!! Andy's Road Runner engine matches up with the VIN as you can see, and the date the engine block was cast (April 15th 1968) works well with the scheduled build date found on the fender tag (July 12th 1968).
Here's a challenge decode a 1968 fender tag, we'll start with the bottom row and go left to right:
RM23-Road Runner hardtop
3-4 speed tranny
45-F70x15 Red Wall Nylon Belted Speedway Tires
712-scheduled build date July 12th 1968
371626-Shipping Order Number (don't forget this one!!!)
H4X-deluxe vinyl black bench seat interior
GG1-Racing Green Metallic
B-black upper door frame paint
1-26 inch radiator opening
6-black vinyl roof
Also new for 1968 was the Anti-Theft body stamped numbers. On 1968 model b-bodies the body stamps were located on the radiator support top bar (see picture 2) and underneath the weatherstripping on the drivers side trunk rail (see picture 3). Being clever they decided they try and stay one step ahead of the thieves; instead of stamping in the dash VIN like they had used on the engines (see picture 5) and transmissions they decided to stamp in the vehicle's Shipping Order Number! This is where it starts getting complicated so try and stay close. The Shipping Order Number can only be found on the fender tag (the last six digits on the far right bottom row) and the broadcast sheet. The fender tag unfortunately does not have the dash VIN. This is where you need the broadcast sheet as it is the only factory documentation that will have both the VIN Sequence and the Shipping Order Number together. So looking at the radiator support number we find G8R371626, this decodes to: G-St. Louis, 8-model year (1968), R-Plymouth, 371626-Shipping Order Number (matches the fender tag). For the quarter weather strip number you will need your secret decoder ring and portable mirror...or you can strip off the weather stripping. Picture 3 is looking up from the trunk pan but the number is the same G8R371626.
The last 8 digits of the dash VIN (picture 1) matches the stamping on the engine (picture 5).
Picture 4 is whats left of the broadcast sheet that was found under the drivers side carpet. Consisting of small fragments and some dust these two baggies do contain both the VIN Sequence and the Vehicle Order Number!!! You might want to invite a CSI friend over to help piece this one back together.
Picture 6 is the original (and rare) 426 Hemi specific owners manual.
Can you believe how solid this machine is??? You would have to search high and low to find any car to match it and how many of those cars would be a Hemi Road Runner? Sure this car had a couple of blow ins and the paint has worn thin in spots; even a stone or two has left its mark but man does it still look great or what? Often times you never now whats hiding underneath that fresh paint on a restored car. If you have the choice, this is the way to buy'em.
This is 1 of 108 4-speed Hemi Road Runner hardtops sold new in the US. It rides on the factory date code correct H-stamped "Hemi wheels" and redline radials. A set of Keystone and some big meats are never more than a quick change away if Andy decides he wants to give his Runner a different look.
This car was sold and is heading out to beautiful British Columbia!!!
Let us put a Hemi engine in your Dodge, Plymouth, Chrysler or any Mopar powered vehicle. Whether you race in stock, super stock, bracket or nostalgia class, we have the Hemi for your needs.
Above you can see the machined pad located on the transmission, 8G280411...yes it does match the last 8 digits of the VIN. Also pictured is the correct Hemi wheels (the four on the car share the same correct date, the spare has a different but still correct date).