WINGED WARRIORS/NATIONAL B-BODY OWNERS ASSOCIATION
SPECIAL FEATURE CAR
JOE HUMPHREY'S 1969 ROADRUNNER
At the age of sixteen, I took my first ride in a brand new 1968 RoadRunner! I instantly fell in love with the newly designed Plymouth, and vowed that someday I would own one.
Fast forward from 1968 to 1999. Finally I got a chance to buy a RoadRunner. It wasn't a 1968, but a much more optioned 1969 model (even better!). I found the car about 85 miles from home. It looked like it was a fairly solid car but because I wanted a 4-speed RoadRunner so badly, I was willing to overlook a few imperfections. So off I went.
I drove the car around for about two months, and then the rear end developed a major problem. I immediately started to disassemble the car. As almost all projects start out, I just wanted nice cars with maybe a new paint job. But then it happened. Four months after I purchased the car it looked like this.
Many times over, I would catch myself saying, "What have I done?" After having the shell and all the body parts--doors, fenders, deck lid and hood--acid stripped, I found that my car was far from being solid, which meant major restoration. Again, this was my dream car so I pushed on.
A local restoration shop, Arnold Collision, did the body work and the painting, which I was not equipped to take on. I was able to assist with some of the frame and body repair so I could keep some of the cost down.
Because of all the major reconstruction, we used a computerized frame aligner to keep the unibody within .100 thousands of factory specs, which Chrysler allowed up to .750 tolerance. (Imagine that!)
Keeping the frame (unibody) this straight paid big dividends at the end. I am constantly getting compliments on how straight this RoadRunner is.
When all was finished, we had ended up replacing both quarter panels, both rocker panels, both front fenders, both front frame rails, both outer wheel house covers, rear cross member and many more smaller items. It was almost a completely new car.
After the Vitamin C was applied to the shell and all the body panels, I brought it home on a trailer to assemble all the parts that I had spent the previous 1-1/2 years restoring at my home. Being single when I started this project enabled me to scatter finished parts all through my house, (upstairs and downstairs) all waiting for their turn to be installed into the empty shell.
Once I started assembling the car I had it on the road in five months. The total restoration took about two years. It was finally finished the day before Monster Mopar in September 2001. We drove it 30 miles to the show without the car ever being road tested. (It had only been done for 24 hours). I was more than a little bit worried but the car never let me down.
We won 1st place that year and all the years since. We also got "Best of Show Stock" in 2003 and to this day it is the most special award I have. Even though we got 1st place at the Mopar Nationals in 2005, Monster Mopar is still the best.
A lot of people think we never drive the car, but that is just a tale. We put over a thousand miles a year on the car driving it to local shows and cruises. What good is having your dream car if you can't drive it? (I do avoid rainy days and Mondays!)
Although I have had some
fairly high offers for this car, I feel pretty certain I will never part with
it. Where else would I find the car I always wanted as nice as this one?
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