1972 Plymouth Roadrunner

Johnson 72 Roadrunner

Webmaster's Note: This Road Runner is no longer part of Cascade Pacific Plymouth Club. The owner sold the car and moved on. We still see him occasionally at club meetings. Nonetheless, we're including the ad by which the car was sold, and our friend's reminiscences of the day it went away on the car-hauler. It's a horrible story, and a reminder that it's not a good idea to scrimp when you're ready to tranport a valuable vehicle.

The advertisement that sold the car: This is one of the last 1972 Roadrunners.  It was built on July 5th, 1972 at the St. Louis plant. It was shipped to Arizona, and brought to Oregon in the early 2000s.  I bought it in 2003. I have sent Galen Govier all the information for research and a registry letter. . Only 906 were built with the 400/ 4 speed, so this is probably one of a dozen maybe originally optioned this way.

It has the original HP 400, rebuilt in 2007.  It has an A-833 4 speed and 3.23 rear,   manual drum brakes, manual steering, AM radio. Rallye dash- 150 speedo, 7,000 tach, full gauges plus the little pillow for between the seats.   It is not a 100% concours car, but is extremely nice. Originally it was B5 Blue, a Lagoon Blue interior with a vinyl roof and the stock Roadrunner hood.  When we restored it I changed the color to TorRed and added the AirGrabber, wing, spoilers, and black strobe stripe (reflects silver!)and changed the interior to black. The motor was rebuilt stronger but not radical. It has a .40 overbore, all new everything. The heads are not original.  I have the Carter Thermo Quad and the Chrysler 4-V intake manifold (not original, post 1975) that was on it, plus the original exhaust manifolds and valve covers.  It now has an Edlebrock Performer aluminum intake and an Edlebrock 750 Performer carb, Mopar Performance Orange Box electronic ignition, starter and MSD wires and Heddman Headers with a H pipe on the exhaust and Flowmasters.  PST poly suspension pieces and KYM shocks support it now

The interior is by Legendary.  The wheels (15x7) are from Specialty wheels with 245/60 Radial TAs.  If they would have let a 10 year old order a car in 1972, this is how I would’ve ordered it.  I have lots of pictures of the restoration.

How to not load a car onto a car carrier

 by Scott Johnson
I found a buyer for my Roadrunner in Kansas, and he flew out on May 20th.  I met him at the airport, and ran him down to the Best Western in Oregon City, and then we came to my house to look at the car.  He had seen it on the national on-line edition of the Auto Trader, and had already sent me a deposit.  I fired it up, and a big smile crept over Albert’s face as I blipped the gas as it warmed up.  I had the trunk already packed tight with spare parts and odds and ends, just like Don Hufshmid told me to, so we didn’t go booming around in it much.  I took him back to the motel, and then picked him up early Monday morning the 21st.  We drank coffee and showed each other pictures of old Mopars we had owned over the years.  I felt comfortable that my car was going to a good Plymouth –friendly home.

We did the paperwork, he passed over the cashier’s check and I signed the title. My gorgeous 1972 roadrunner was now Albert’s and we called the transport driver to see when he would get here. I told Nambib that if he drove in from the East, the road sloped down to the West, and it would be easier to load the car.  He asked if we could load the car on Glen Oak Road, so he wouldn’t have to navigate my neighborhood.   It was cold and rainy, but I said sure, and we drove down the 3 blocks.  I could see a big Volvo semi coming up the road, so I flipped the Roadrunner around where he would have lots of room to pull in and not have to back up. The truck was a big full-size two level car carrier, with two cars up top and a moss covered 68 T-Bird on the bottom, which looked like it had been winched out of a pasture.  He pulled in and he and Albert signed paperwork.   The kid had lowered the ramp from the top, and I got a sinking feeling. He planned to drive it up the ramp.

Nambib asked if the car would start and I said sure.  He went to start it, and promptly killed it as he let the clutch out.  I know it was a cold motor, but after about 2 seconds Albert and I realized the kid couldn’t drive a stick.  The ramp’s pitch was close to 40 degrees, and the steel looked really slick. I consider myself a pretty good driver, and I would have had concerns trying to lug a big 4-speed up a slick ramp! Albert looked pale, and I think he quit breathing for a few moments.  As Nambib lined the car up and aimed up the ramps, he sloooowly let the clutch out, while keeping the motor way up in the 4000-5000 rpm level.   Clutch smoke enveloped the car.  He got it halfway up the ramp and killed it.  Mother of God, I thought.  He’s either going to dump the clutch and the car will shoot up and into the Lexus already strapped down, or the Sure Grip rear will kick the car to the right and off the ramp and it will sit there like a broken General Lee after a jump!  My wife was behind all of this in our Tahoe; she got scared and moved the truck out of the line of fire.  I felt sick to my stomach with worry, disgust and sadness.

He got it fired up again, and inched it up the ramp in a cloud of McLeod heavy-duty clutch smoke.   Albert and I were on either side of the rear bumper, pushing, trying to keep it from slipping backwards. My heart was pounding as I envisioned some horrible 3 way legal battle over a destroyed muscle car.  Thank God we did the paperwork first! The kid somehow got it up the ramp, and got the parking brake on.  The older guy leveled the ramp somewhat and started chaining it down. Albert was already on the phone chewing some butt about how it should’ve been winched up.  He was fit to be tied. 

I eventually got Albert back to PDX and then went straight to the credit union to deposit the check.  He called me Thursday when the car arrived-via Georgia! I told him that on my map, Kansas is smack in the middle of Oregon and Georgia.  Albert was upset.  The car was filthy, which was to be expected.  The idiots had scratched up the paint on the roof and the strobe stripes (how the hell do you do that chaining up a car?) and down in front of the rear wheels, rubbing through the paint and the Roadrunner decals.  The clutch was shot.  He told me he fired it up, went down the street, revved it up and dumped it. It left 3 feet of Radial TA rubber, and then quit going forward, while the engine just choked and gurgled.  He is pretty sure they messed up at least one valve or valve spring, because when he lets off the gas, it backfires like crazy.  It never did that before.

The company said they would pay for the repaint ($1400 estimate!) but not any engine repair.  I need to find out the company name so I can let everyone who reads the Plymouth Bulletin not to use them.  Granted, Albert should have sprung for a covered carrier who specializes in classic cars, but you would think the driver could drive a 4-speed, or at least have a powered winch.  I sent Albert my extra set of stripes I was going to put on Ebay.  It will help a little bit, I suppose.