Another Road Runner or two I can't stop thinking about.
I really need more space or maybe the lack of space constrains my compulsions. I think a lot of us deal with this in some form. There is always another car. It can be eBay, Fakebook Market Place, Craig’s List or one of the big auction houses having a weekend event on TV, there is another car I want. Nay, another car I need, often times it is some form of Plymouth Road Runner. I’ve had many cars but never a Road Runner or ‘Cuda. Too many good times were had in a 1973 Road Runner, the 1971 Road Runner is arguably a Top Five best looking muscle car, the Volare Road Runner is all sorts of malaise muscle cool. Then there is my irrational obsession with the 1980 Road Runner, especially in black with a red interior and T-tops. There is something about the 1980 Road Runner’s clean, simple, light look. Without the louvers, doo-dads and loud stripes. Like a Road Runner ready to conquer a new decade, that car should have survived till 1985. Too bad Lee Iacocca didn’t seem to agree with me.
There was the black 1980 Road Runner on West 186th Street always parked across from the building where I bought weed. There was the black 1980 Road Runner for sale online for like ten years, I dragged my mother in law to Chicago in the dead of winter to try purchasing that one. Now there is a black ’80 with a red interior and supposedly 13K original miles on eBay. Listed for a second time at a slightly lower price of $17.5K, that's a bit steep IMHO. The problem is my 1978 Super Coupe and 1999 Trans Am currently occupy the garage space, while my wife’s car sits out in the driveway to suffer the elements of weather.
It should be easy to talk my self out the 1980 Road Runner. Did you know in 1980 you could no longer get the 360 4-barrel in the Road Runner? The 318 and Slant Six were the only available engines*. Yeah you read that right, Slant Six in a Road Runner. A 318 2-barrel, 904 transmission and little 7 ¼ rear end don’t sound very stout and brutish. Damn, it’s kind of sexy, you could treat that 318 to a performance rebuild and a four-barrel carburetor. Plenty of people swear by the 904, slap a Gear Vendors on the back, yeah sweet. When the 7 ¼ grenades on the track replace it with an 8 ¼ rear that is easy to find, dude... If it winds up listed with “make an offer” and the dude is willing to take $12K I might buy first then worry about garage space.
The next bird to distract me is a clone, which I have no issues with and will cover that subject in another post. This Satellite Sebring Plus is dressed as a 1973 Road Runner. Supposedly on a five-year-old complete restoration. Equipped with the 400 4-barrel, 727 Torque Flite and 8 ¾ rear axle, A/C for comfort during car show season. The seller includes reassuring statements like “new wiring harness for the dash and engine” and “this car could be driven anywhere”. Good I’m a road trip guy. The F1 Mist Green and white stripes make for a sharp looking car, although green isn’t really my thing. Too many of these 1973 Road Runners at the $17K price point are POS waiting to frustrate. This car seems well sorted out, just get out and enjoy it.
Both of these cars are a nice road trip south that can be done in a day. Then there is the California museum car…
*Some claim the 360 4V was available, proof being 1980 Volare 360 cars in super stock.
The lesson of the day was unrealistic expectations lead to crushing disappointment.
I bought my 1978 Dodge Super Coupe a little over two years ago out of California. A really solid, very nice driver quality ride, bone stock since it had to be smog tested every 2 years. You don’t know what a Super Coupe is? In the late 1970’s Mopar tried to capture the Duster 340 and Dodge Challenger buyer with Aspen and Volare sport coupes. Two door Mopar F-Bodies with spoilers, louvers, road wheels, hi-impact graphics and most times equipped with 318 or 360 V8 engines. Smokey and the Bandit was a huge success, it had a big impact within car culture thus Ford and Mopar wanted their own bandit car. For 1978 the Aspen and Volare got basically identical cars called Super Coupe. All with 360 engines and 727 TorqueFlite automatic transmissions as no manual option was available, HD suspensions, sway bars fore and aft. A bold look with fender flares, fat radials, black out hood treatment, colorful tape stripes. This was supposed to be the serious Mopar street machine…as serious as 1978 emissions regulations would let you get. Still it was faster than the Trans Am tested by Car & Driver that same year.
That doesn’t mean they were fast; malaise muscle cars were rarely fast fresh off the showroom floor. So, among my restomod plans for the Super Coupe were a few measures that would hopefully boost ¼ mile times. While the SC is still a work in progress the engine is basically a stock low compression piece. Topping the motor is a Holley Sniper EFI throttle body, with Sniper distributer, coil and CD box for better spark. All smog equipment is gone. The single exhaust with cat was swapped for a true dual exhaust without catalytic converters. The 727 TorqueFlite transmission was replaced with a Silver Sport A41 overdrive unit with 1st gear 3.06, 2nd gear 1.63 opposed to the 727’s 2.45 and 1.45 ratios. The peg-leg 3.23 rear axle got a fresh Sure Grip unit, that’s posi for you GM guys. Surely this must have been good enough for a snappier 1320 time. So, I decided to take the Super Coupe to Island Dragway in north western NJ to see what it could do. I was hoping for a mid-15 second time.
My first pass was simply leaving the transmission in drive, 16.22 seconds, ouch. The second and last pass I tried shifting myself for a 16.13, still lousy and much worse than I expected. During the second pass I was lined up and gapped by a 90’s Honda sub-compact hatch. During the ride home my wife could sense I was deflated, she tried to convince me we still had fun anyway. The Super Coupe got a lot of admiring thumbs up, malaise muscle doing what it does best. Later that evening I discovered that in 1979 Car Craft averaged 16.47 seconds with a stock Super Coupe, their best run was 16.35. When I explained to the wife that progress is measured in tenths of a second, I got a “who’s a good boy” with a pat on the head. Maybe it was a good day.
I believe at this point for the SC to match it’s show with go the 360 will need a performance rebuild. I don’t think a cam and head job will do it, am I right? Let me know with a comment below.
If you’re like me you belong to a few car related groups on Fakebook. One that pops up on my newsfeed quite a bit is Car Museum. Mostly it is a love of cars of almost all types. On occasion someone will post a car that draws the ire and ridicule of the members and we don’t hold back. So, this guy Chad who appears to be new to the group posts about this build converting a Pinto into a European sports car, a super car. That’s a tall order. This thing looks ridiculous. From the pics it looks like it’s being built in someone’s dirty rural garage or barn. He’s beaming with pride over this hideous collection of parts and slapdash body work. There is a saying “don’t read the comments”. Chad got ripped by nearly everyone, including me. A few days later I’m checking out Motor Trend TV before retiring to bed for the night and I see this dude Chad building his Pintgo as I called it. I’m laughing my ass off watching this clown show as these guys build this adult size soap box derby racer.
Then I noticed some of his other builds, impressive. I noticed he’s a likable guy. So, I dug a little deeper. His builds are not super high dollar stuff. He works with whatever is available to him, scouring the farms and fields of his neighbors for parts. His approach to the car builds is creating art. Like those sculptors that use welding as a medium. Chad Hiltz is a modest guy with that rockabilly vibe, he’s teaching his son Colton life lessons through wrenching and knuckle busting. Also on the team is life long friend Aaron and mechanic Alex. The easy on the eyes shop manger at Hiltz Automotive is Jolene, also Chad’s fiancé. None of these reality shows are completely unscripted so there is the standard crew is behind the clock on the build.
The mission at Hiltz Automotive is not restorations or making big power and torque. It’s about Chad’s team creating rolling automotive art shade tree mechanic style. So, while some mock his work Chad is showing up, 80% of success is showing up. He's a passionate, talented, humble guy doing his thing.
John is a GenX car enthusiast who grew up driving classic muscle cars. He enjoys the new modern muscle cars that can out perform the classics in every way. In the sportscar world his banners are Viper and Corvette. John has a guilty pleasure. The disco era street machine. Those unloved, underpowered cars festooned with scoops, spoilers and stripes.