Road Runners. Umm, you don't see them everyday. Especially like this one. This is like finding flesh-ripping teeth in an Easter chickie. Johnny, look, it's a freakin' ragtop. And wow, it's got a clutch pedal, too. Yup, we're gonna have some fun!
"The car is an original big-block 383 four-speed convertible, Regular Production Order RM27," says Year One's Brad Ocock. But it was a boo-coo mess. "It had been sitting outside for years. Every panel on the car was rusted through, with large sections of metal gone altogether. The cowl area was rusted. The floors were gone. The seam where the wheel tubs meet the floor of the trunk were rusted away an inch from the original joint on each side."
It gets worse. The gutter around the deck lid was wasted or just missing in many places and the car had body damage on all four corners. One door shell had been hit and was twisted. Even the headliner bows for the convertible top were eaten through by rust.
"It was basically the sheetmetal that was wasted," says Ocock. "The framerails, frame boxes and body mounts were in great shape. It was a complete car, but the damage was so extensive, it was questionable whether or not it could be salvaged."
Why bother? Mojo price tags materialize on select model Mopar iron (especially drop tops) and they continue to disappear into those low-lying clouds. Year One felt that the opportunity was way too valuable to broom (2,218 Road Runner convertibles were built in the 1969 model year), and could there be a better place to exhibit its trove of NOS sheetmetal, patch panels, fasteners, and ancillary glitter and bits?
The junk that was a car-a novice project it ain't-reanimated by the hands of experience.
The whole thing happened at the Year One shop in Braselton, Georgia. Year One's veterans put on a hinged fiberglass Six-Pack hood, built a custom front bumper and paired 'Cuda road lamps with a custom-built air dam. And when the sheetmetal guys had had enough, Steve Jones applied the Southern Polyurethane '02 Viper Red and painted the gloss strobes and the "505" engine callouts on the billboards.
For more Year One volunteers, the car had become a six-month-long obsession. It rolled in from the body shop as a shell. They put it completely back to form in three weeks, finishing it... umm, let me see... yes! Was it the day before Power Tour departed from Florida last June? Suffice it to say, the Road Runner's introductory cruise from Braselton to Kissimmee proved safe and sane.