1969 Plymouth HEMI Road Runner Spent Years in a Barn, Bad News Under the Hood

It's been 50 years since the dawn of the golden muscle car era, and iconic cars from the period still pop up in barns and backyards. Most are mundane, but rare gems are still being discovered and rescued. This 1969 Plymouth HEMI Road Runner is one of those cars.
1969 Plymouth HEMI Road Runner barn find 9 photos
Photo: Old Skool Rides/YouTube
1969 Plymouth HEMI Road Runner barn find1969 Plymouth HEMI Road Runner barn find1969 Plymouth HEMI Road Runner barn find1969 Plymouth HEMI Road Runner barn find1969 Plymouth HEMI Road Runner barn find1969 Plymouth HEMI Road Runner barn find1969 Plymouth HEMI Road Runner barn find1969 Plymouth HEMI Road Runner barn find
Saved by Dale of "Old Skool Rides," this Mopar has a somewhat mysterious past. While it's pretty evident that the car spent years off the road, our host doesn't know how long it's been sitting. He also doesn't know whether it was parked in a barn or a yard, but based on the condition of the body panels, I'd say it was kept indoors.

The Road Runner is just a project car as it stands. The original paint is long gone and some body panels have been refreshed over the years. The rear fenders are a bit rusty at the bottom, but other than that, the shell looks good. And it's straight as an arrow.

And while it's missing a lot of chrome and the interior is almost entirely stripped out, Dale says he got most of the parts in boxes. I guess this means the Road Runner was taken apart for a restoration that never happened. He also knows that the muscle car was raced by a previous owner.

But what about the drivetrain? Is this HEMI still the proud owner of a rare 426-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) V8? Sadly, the engine is no longer with the car, but still has the original transmission. It's unclear whether it's a four-speed manual or an automatic, though.

Grated, it's a bit disappointing that this HEMI Road Runner is just a rolling shell, but it's still a rare classic that deserves to be saved. How rare? Well, 1969 was the Road Runner's best year, with sales of 81,105 units. However, only a tiny fraction of these cars were shipped with the range-topping HEMI mill.

Specifically, just 787 units were ordered with the NASCAR-spec powerplant, which is only 1% of the total production. This car is even rarer than that, though. That's because the 787-example production run includes hardtop, coupe, and convertible models. This one's a post car, which makes it one of 356 coupes sold that year. If it's a four-speed, it can be narrowed down to 194 units. The automatic gearbox would make it one of just 162.

It's a rare muscle car, no matter how you look at it, and it deserves a complete restoration with a replacement HEMI. And it's precisely what it will get at some point. For now, however, Dale wants to install an engine, revive the transmission, and get the car running and driving. He basically wants to enjoy it almost as is for a while.

All told, this Road Runner has enormous potential, and it could become a Concours-winning Mopar worth a six-figure sum. Sure, the missing numbers-matching HEMI is a bit of an issue when it comes to diehard collectors, but I've seen a few units with replacement engines going past the $100,000 mark.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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