Friday, April 20, 2012
There are some cars that are wrapped in myth and legend right out of the factory. And I don't mean Daytona Chargers or Ford Talladegas. I mean really rare cars, the ones that were suppose to not exist, yet pop up from time to time. This is story of one of those cars.
I've read all about the 1972 Dodge and Plymouth vehicles that slipped through the factories fingers with the legendary 440 cubic inch V8 and triple two barrel setup. A setup that was canceled just a few days after production on 1972 cars started. Only 2 Dodge Chargers and 1 Plymouth Road Runner are known to have gotten through before the cancellation order. The Chargers are well documented, one was once owned by Ron Slobes of R&R Salvage, the other tucked safely away in a garage in the Midwest and last seen in Mopar Collectors Guide magazine. The Road Runner though has been out of the public’s eye for almost 20 years.
There was a large discussion going on over at www.Moparts.com with the owner of the Road Runner, about how he was thinking about selling the car. He had some small, old pictures of the car, but nothing recent. Inquiring about the car, I was shocked to discovered that the car was only a half hour from my home! I made arrangements to see the car with the owner.
Meeting up with the owner at his shop, we walked over to where the car was stored at. He opened the door and the first thing you saw was not the 72, but his 71 Road Runner drag car and Sons 71 GTX tribute car. The son's car has a warmed over 440 and the drag car has something a bit more potent waiting for it! But there against the wall was the reason I had traveled all that way, the 1972 440 Six Barrel Plymouth Road Runner. Only documented one in the world!
I walk over to the car, and it is not what I was expecting. It was a storage shelf in the garage. It was in decent shape, but covered in general garage stuff. Some rust here and there, but not too bad. There was a large hole in the roof... for the factory power sunroof! The interior was out, the engine was long gone. But the body is plenty solid, and being such a rare car, the restoration should not be that difficult. There is a reason this car is special though.
Back in 1972 the gas crunch was in full swing, insurance rates were going through the roof for muscle cars, and there was now emission regulations for cars across the whole country. The muscle car was dying. Ford and GM had already started de-tuning their engines in 71. Mopar held off one extra year. But by 1972, there was no more Hemi, and the 440 Six Barrel option was dead a few days into production. This was the last of the true muscle cars.
The full story of this car is not known, all that is known before the current owner had it is the car ended up with a guy who lived on the East Coast. The way the current owner got is pretty interesting. After talking to Galen Govier at a show, he mentioned he was looking for a 72 Six Barrel Road Runner. Galen told him there was only 1 known car, and it wasn't for sale. But he gave Galen his information just in case.
A few years past and one day on the answering machine, there was a message from some guy about a Road Runner for sale, he didn't think anything of it until the guy mentioned it was the Six Barrel car! He couldn't get out to see it, a friend who is a pilot flew out, took a ton of pictures and then flew back, all in a day. Talk about being a good friend! This was back when it would still take a day to process pictures. So the guy waited for the photo place to open and get the pictures And once he got them, took one look and his friend said to him, “You gotta get this car!”.
So he sent the owner a money order, and drove out there with his friend as soon as he could to pick the old girl up. By the time they got there, the guy had been getting offers of more money from all over the country, but he was true to the guy and sold it to him. They loaded it up and brought it home, safely tucking it away. So one day it could get the restoration it deserves.
For the past 20 years the new owner has collected parts from everywhere to put the car together correctly. In the basement of his building which he owns and runs his business out of, he has an original 1972 440 engine, a correct 72 style Six Barrel setup, interior, rims, tires and almost anything else you can think of. When the time comes for this car to be put back together, it will have everything it needs, all original NOS items. Sitting on the floor, being used as a door stop, was the Six Barrel intake for the car.
The car will be coming out of storage for a short while though, it will be seen at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals (www.mcacn.com) this coming fall. See it there at the best Muscle Car show in the country. I will be there as well, helping put on the “Found as is” category! November 17th and 18th, 2012.
Posted by Ryan Brutt at 4/20/2012 09:53:00 PM