AJ’s “Badass Friday” Car of the Day: 1972 Plymouth Road Runner/GTX 440 Coupe

AJ’s “Badass Friday” Car of the Day: 1972 Plymouth Road Runner/GTX 440 Coupe

Car: Plymouth Road Runner/GTX 440 Coupe

Year: 1972

What makes it special: Plymouth’s Road Runner was built with a focus on performance between 1968 and 1980. By 1968, some of the original muscle cars were moving away from their roots as relatively cheap, fast cars as they gained features and increased in price. Plymouth developed the Road Runner to market a lower priced, basic trim model to its upscale GTX.

What made it famous: The 1972 model was nearly identical to the 1971 with a few minor changes. The grille design was cleaned up, and the tail lights were changed to match the new aerodynamic look of the grille. The big differences came in the cutting back of performance options for the car. The suspension, rear axle ratios with a 3:55 ratio being the tallest available, and most noticeably the engines changed, with the big-block 383 being replaced by a larger-bore and lower performance 400 cu in version as the standard engine. The small-block 340 CID as well as the performance version of the 440 cu in engine with a 4-barrel carburetor, performance camshaft, and dual exhausts were also available, and for the last time a 4-speed manual transmission could be paired with any of the three engines. All of the engines suffered a drop in compression ratios to allow use of low-lead/no-lead gas and to meet the first round of emissions regulations. The 280 hp 440 engine was the basis for the Road Runner GTX, as the GTX was no longer a separate model, and was available on Road Runners from 1972 to 1974. The famed 426 Hemi was discontinued for 1972, and only five 440 Six Barrel equipped cars were produced before this engine option was dropped after it was determined the 440 six-pack could not meet the stricter 1972 emissions regulations in the fall of 1971.

Why I would want one: Silly as it may sound, but I’ve been in love with this particular Plymouth body style since having an AFX H.O. racing car as a kid.

Fun fact: The 1971-72 Road Runner sheet metal was used by several NASCAR racing teams for their racecars and ran well on the circuit during the 1971-74 seasons. Richard Petty won the championship both in 1971 and 1972 using the Road Runner-based cars, winning 30 races over the two seasons.

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