MARCH 2024: 1974 PLYMOUTH ROAD RUNNER—HIS SEARCH PAID OFF WITH A RARE BIRD

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The Plymouth Road Runner went through many versions over its run from 1968-1980.

The most common version is the 1st gen (1968-70) because that’s when muscle cars peaked—before insurance and smog laws buried potential buyers under layers of red tape.  

Jerry Sutherland

The 1974 Road Runner was built when smog and bumper laws steered Detroit’s game plan, but they did carry the fuselage lines of the 2nd Gen Road Runners. That design was a bold departure from the boxy lines of the earlier Road Runners.  Rick Lavallee was looking for a classic Mopar when he spotted an ad for a ’74 Road Runner.

Rick said he has owned “So many Mopars I’d be rich if I’d kept them”—including a ’74 Road Runner so this one called his name. He had quite a history with his original Road Runner because he was stopped by the police at well over 100 miles per hour, but Rick said he “treats this one a lot better”.

He bought the car in late November—a time of year where winter has already set in where he lives but he jumped in and drove it home. Rick said he, “Called him up, told him he’d be there by 8, opened the hood and paid the asking price”.       

There were 89,000 miles on the Road Runner and Rick bought it from the second owner. This was a survivor car and the previous owner had stored it well, so the car was in great shape. He had to replace a few door seals, but the rest of the Road Runner is solid and original–including a mint spare tire and all the glass.

The Plymouth was off the road for four-and-half years—Rick blew up the original 400 cubic-inch V-8, so he wanted to find a period-correct 400 to replace it. That took time because he wanted the right engine—anything less wasn’t acceptable in his opinion because this Road Runner is so rare.

The new 400 has a bit of a lumpy idle because Rick said, “it’s cammed up a bit” and it also has a rumble thanks to a free-breathing exhaust system. He also said “it needs a bit of a tuneup” but he’s running it more now.

Rick said his Road Runner is very comfortable at 70-75 miles per hour, so he likes to drive it at that speed. His immediate plan was simple–he wanted to get the car ready for visitors because he thought they’d like running around in a mid-70s era piece of Mopar history.     

The best part about this 1974 Road Runner is that it’s in the right hands. Rick has a long list of Mopar classics in his past—including his first ’74–but they’re gone. This car came to him at the right time and for the right price, so he wants to enjoy the ride.

So far it’s worked out—Rick said the car has been a lot of fun so he wants to build up more memories in his second ’74 Road Runner.           

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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