Pictured here is Jim Wilson and his superb 1969 Hemi Road Runner at the 3rd Annual Mopar Euro Nationals held at SantaPod Raceway in Billings, England in June, 1996. Jim's Runner was awarded the Winged Warriors USA trophy for Best B-Body by Tony Oksien, President of our affiliate club, the Mopar Muscle Association of Great Britain. Jim purchased the Runner in Indiana in April, 1982, at which time it was in average/good condition. The car had 44,000 miles on it (14 years later, the car now has 61,000 miles on the clock).
Jim says: "At the time, the car had been painted the wrong shade of blue, it was wearing a tired set of mag wheels and showing signs of years of drag race use. In purist terms, a true musclecar is a base model intermediate sized 2-door sedan with no frills, but with the biggest engine that will fit between the frame rails. This Road Runner would define the breed."
"The Road Runner was Plymouth's budget musclecar, and mine is a very basic model indeed: manual steering, unassisted drum brakes, bench seats, column shift and a 2-watt radio that can not be heard above 30 mph. In real terms, the only extra item ticked off the options list was the 426 Hemi engine. Mother Mopar's finest."
"The 426 Hemi option included several Hemi only changes from other Road Runners including chassis reinforcement both front and rear of the rear leaf springs, stiffer rear suspension and an extra leaf on the right had side, 3-speed windshield wiper motor (fitted to clear the larger air cleaner), K-member with skid plate (to protect the Hemi's deeper sump). Automatic cars got a beefed up 727 transmission with extra fluid capacity, higher stall converter and two transmission coolers. 4-speed cars got a hefty A833 gear box and Dana 60 rear end."
"Although I shipped the car to England and used it for some months, I never registered it in my name; it was always going to be sold to Ted Smith, who had the money to buy it. But I had tremendous fun with the car while I could. The incredible power of the Hemi engine makes the car practically invincible--and very dangerous! With so much power and totally inadequate brakes and handling for our roads, it would be very easy for an inexperienced driver to destroy the car. Doubtless, many Hemis have met their demise that way."
"Ted had the Plymouth for three or four years and then sold it to a couple of brothers in South London who kept it until I bought it from them in October, 1991. The Road Runner had been looked after and was still in good condition, so I was pleased to buy it back again after so many years. Needless to say, it cost a lot more to buy it the second time around than it had the first! I had paid every penny I could lay my hands on and barely had enough left over for petrol to get home."
"I drove the car as it was until early 1994. I spent nearly two years and seven thousands pounds on the restoration to restore the car to its former glory. The body was stripped down to bare metal and painted original B5 Blue. I would like to give credit to John Castleman for his enthusiasm and skill in preparing and painting the body shell. A new interior from Legendary was installed. The suspension, steering, brakes and other parts were totally rebuilt before re-installing. Originally the car was fitted with crossply Redline tires. I balked at that, preferring modern radials as I like to drive the car and enjoy its power."
On behalf of the Winged Warriors/N.B.O.A. USA, a big congratulations to Jim and his truly beautiful Road Runner!
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