NOVEMBER 29, 2013 (DECEMBER 2013): THE FORGOTTEN BIRD-A 1975 PLYMOUTH ROAD RUNNER

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There is really only one era that comes up when the Plymouth Road Runner is discussed.

 

The first Gen (1969-70) is often referred to as the classic Road Runner period followed by the fuselage era (71-74).

 

Very few car guys put the ’75 version of the ‘bird Mopars at the top of the list.

 

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1975 is often called the turning point in Detroit because oil-embargo, smog-era bumper cars took precedence over style so hardcore performance took a back seat to regulations and oil supplies.

 

That was clearly selling automotive history short and this ’75 Plymouth Road Runner is clear evidence Detroit hadn’t lost its cool factor.

 

Tony Bonaguro didn’t think so either so that’s why he locked in on this rare Mopar. He recalled, “In ten years I only found one-this one came out of the interior of BC so it was pretty rust-free.It was a cool piece, something different”.

 

 

He had a theory about why these ‘75 Road Runners are scarce, “They got crushed just because they were de-tuned cars”.

 

Despite the glowing report, this was a huge job for Tony, “It took six years from 2003 to 2009. I’m a mechanic so I didn’t want to come home to more work after working on cars all day”.

 

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Fortunately, Tony had that key ingredient in every married car guy’s life, “My wife was very supportive because she knew when we got married that I was a car guy”.

 

Tony began with an assessment of the body, “Guys had drilled holes on the body without really knowing what they were doing so that was a problem plus the rockers were all bashed up because a rear spring mount had ripped out”.

 

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Tony was completely hands-on with the project but he was also a student of the Dirty Harry “man’s gotta know his limitations” school as he admitted, ” I did a lot of sheet metal work but this is a black car so it was a little beyond my limits in the final stages”.

 

The Road Runner started out with a fairly mild heartbeat as Tony recalled but that changed, “It was a 318 car but now it’s a 400, some port and polishing, little bit of a cam and a new carb”.

 

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This project wasn’t done in the confines of a state of the art shop as Tony admitted, “I took everything I could into the house because my garage wasn’t heated. I busted my knuckles a lot on this car so I definitely have real blood in the game”.

 

Tony built the Road Runner to drive, not admire and he clearly achieved that goal, “ I drive it on the weekend to shows. It’s been a good, solid car so far. There’s been a few little bugs but it’s never let me down”.

 

Old rides are a continual process with no defined finish line and this 1975 ‘runner is no exception, “It’s got 3:55 gears so it’s running about 2800 rpm at around 60-I’m thinking about an aftermarket 5-speed but I’d have to modify the tunnel so I’m still thinking about it”.

 

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Tony made two promises to his wife when he started to project, “She said if I started it I had to finish it plus I had to quit smoking so it worked it great because I finished the car and I saved a bunch of money for the car”.

 

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The ending to this car story had Walt Disney written all over it because a rare Mopar was saved, money was saved and a guy’s health was saved.

 

Jerry Sutherland

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