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  • Remembering 1967-1971 Plymouth Performance Muscle

    During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the major product line for Plymouth performance muscle cars started an unprecedented success for the growing performance automotive market. Plymouth was one of the highest volume sale leaders in the industry. Plymouth offered additional performance engines and packages for consumers to upgrade for street or track use. Not only did the vehicle itself draw attraction but the new available color options, Sassy Grass Green and Lemon Twist, became very popular among the buying public.





    The 1967 Plymouth Belvedere GTX series was a new high performance model introduced specifically for the performance minded buyer. The GTX models were available in both a hardtop and convertible version. The models were designed with a special dark textured silver paint highlighted grille and a rear deck trim. The vehicles also offered GTX style dual scoops on the hood, chromed dual exhaust outlets, a pit stop gas cap, and special red streak tires. The heavy duty suspension and functional styling were all attuned to GTX’s high performance capabilities that the consumers really enjoyed.

    The 1969 Plymouth Road Runner models were very popular among the buying public. The models were available to consumers on September 19, 1968. Each Plymouth Road Runner was equipped with either a 383 type engine or the famous Hemi engine. The models included the famous cartoon Road Runner bird emblem that was bigger and in full color. For the true Road Runner fans, the 1969 Plymouth Road Runner model offered the popular “beep-beep” horn. Plymouth intermediate vehicles had made outstanding records on drag strips and oval tracks. Performance capability was improved with even more available options such as the hood scoop which became a functional opening into an air induction system called the air-grabber. These models will always be remembered as one of the best designed muscle cars in automotive history.





    For 1970, Plymouth Barracuda models were redesign by Mr. John E. Herlitz at the Chrysler Corporation. The E-body designs were designed to bring competition for many racing fans. Some Cuda models were available with a 340 V-8 engine that were popular to both the average consumer and race track drivers. A total of 18,880 models were built in various forms including all of the engine and performance combinations. The most popular Cuda models were the models that offered the 426 Hemi engines or the AAR Cuda models that were produced with a 340 "Six Pack" three two-barrel carburetors type engine. The graphic design on the rear quarter panels were sometimes called the “inverted hockey stick" which consumers loved. There were only 635 Cuda convertible models built, and to date, these models could cost over a million dollars.




    The 1970 Plymouth Road Runner models added three new high performance models to its line. Plymouth sales began to rise yet again and lead success with the Road Runner. Plymouth dealers were selling nearly twice as many performance cars in 1970 as they previous did in 1968-69. The 1970 Plymouth performance cars were revved up and the Chrysler-Plymouth division continued its aggressive campaign to capture an increasing share of the growing performance automotive market. The Road Runner nameplates were designed near the rear wheels. The 1970 Plymouth Road Runner models were popular in the past but more popular today among automotive collectors.




    The 1970 Plymouth advertising campaign included the "Rapid Transit System" which appealed to many Plymouth buyers. The campaign was an effective effort to show the years of racing among Plymouth performance cars at Daytona Indianapolis, Riverside, Irwindale, Cecil County. It was based on the race cars themselves, drag racing cars Grand National stockers, rally and Championship cars. The Rapid Transit System advertising was very popular among racing fans of all ages.





    1971 Plymouth Road Runner was a high performance model that offered a great 440 4 barrel V8 type engine. The advertising color pattern wrapping over the roof design was a Road Runner exclusive color keyed design that made the model very popular among the young culture. Plymouth continued to use the Road Runner bird and "beep beep" slogan for its advertising campaign. The three men responsible for the popular Road Runner there were Mr. Robert S. Anderson, Jack Smith, and Gordon Cherry. These men made the population relationship between the Road Runner cartoon and Plymouth automotive designers possible. Throughout automotive history, the Road Runner advertising campaign and Plymouth will always be looked upon as one of the best ideas in history. The Plymouth Muscle cars will continue to be popular among many past, present, and future automotive collectors.

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    A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for donating the story to the MotorCities Story of the Week program. Photographs courtesy of Robert Tate’s personal collection (Bibliography: Butler Don. The Plymouth DeSoto Story. Crestline Publishing Sarasota, Fla. 1978. The Rapid Transit System-Plymouth Makes It 1970. Chrysler Motors Corporation)

    For further information contact Robert Tate at btate@motorcities.org. If you have a story that you would like to donate to be featured as a MotorCities Story of the Week, email Lisa Ambriez atlambriez@motorcities.org