This 1969 Plymouth Road Runner was “the transportation” for Megan and Adam Shafritz when they married.
It was the fall of 1985 and Adam Shafritz was looking for a project car to work on for his Advanced Auto Mechanics class during his senior year at Mamaroneck High School (NY).
Late 1960’s muscle cars were just seeing their resurgence. He had already done all the work he could on family and friends’ cars and wanted to advance his mechanical knowledge and abilities. With the help of a gym teacher who had bought muscle cars at auctions in the south, Adam identified one with 3 cars of interest.
In December, Adam and his dad flew People’s Express airlines from Newark, NJ to Charlotte, NC and purchased at auction his Sunfire Yellow 1969 Plymouth Road Runner for $2,000.00. The car looked like it had undergone recent cosmetic restoration, but they were not able to test drive it prior to bidding. The other two cars of interest was a 1968 Hemi for $4000, and a Superbee for $5000. There were a few times that Adam looked back and wondered if he should have begged his dad for a loan at the auction.
Adam and his dad then set out on a 650 mile road trip bringing the car home. They soon realized that the only things that worked were the headlights, speedometer and windshield wipers. The transmission leaked a quart of fluid every 200 miles, the engine burned a quart of oil every 500 miles, and the front-end suspension and steering was shot, causing the car to change lanes every small bump in the road. What an adventure!
He brought the car into the high school auto shop, where he got to work with the assistance of Stephen Bullock, his teacher, rebuilding the front-end, steering, engine and transmission. The instrument cluster and electronics were restored, and in April of 1986 the car was out of the shop and on the road. He use to show up a few minutes late to his AP Calculus class covered in grease every day where he met his future wife Megan, who took note of their math teacher’s calling Adam out regularly asking him about the car pro-ject he was working on. When the car was finished, Adam asked Megan if she wanted a ride, and the rest is history.
They both went off to college and professional schools and the car sat in Adam’s parents’ garage for more than a decade. During that time, the car began to slowly decay and although Adam would periodically take the car out for a drive, it lost its reliability.
In late 1999, Adam contacted Chuck Pierce from Lempster, NH and had him perform an updated restoration. It was found that the 383 block was cracked so an early 1969 casting was located, bored 0.040 over, the compression ratio was lowered and hardened valve seats were installed to allow the car to run on pump gas without the need for lead substitute. Because the car was no longer numbers matching, Chuck Pierce converted the 727 Torqueflite automatic transmission to a 4-speed manual with a Hurst shifter. To make the car stop without having to apply both feet to the brake pedal, the front drum brakes were converted to power disc.
Adam and Megan moved to South Burlington, VT in 2001 and put a garage addition onto their house to specifically house the Road Runner. They joined the VAE in 2002 and have 2 children, Emily and Justin.
Justin has developed a love for all things mechanical and has picked up cars along with antique farm equipment, tractors, and hit and miss engines as hobbies. You will frequently see the two of them together at car shows with their various vehicles including a 1957 Studebaker Silver Hawk, 2008 Z-06 Corvette, 2018 Type RA Subaru and a 1919 Alamo hit and miss engine.
The Plymouth Road Runner is a mid-size car, with a focus on performance, built between 1968 and 1980.
Plymouth paid $50,000 to Warner Brothers to use the Road Runner name and likeness from their Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner cartoons (as well as a “beep, beep” horn, which Plymouth paid $10,000 to develop)
American Standard Catalog reports there were 81,125 Road Runners built in addition to 3,295 built for the Canadian market.