1971 Plymouth Road Runner
2dr Hardtop Coupe
8-cyl. 383cid/300hp 4bbl Hi-Perf
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
Plymouth completely redesigned the Belvedere/Satellite/Road Runner series for 1971 with a handsome fuselage theme. The coupes and hardtops were now quite different from the more conventional sedans and wagons. The two-doors had a low recessed grille surrounded by a loop bumper, flared fenders and a high trunk. 1971 Plymouth Road Runners could be recognized by the “ladder stripe” running down the C-pillars.
The new Road Runner Hardtop was shorter, but the wheelbase was longer. Performance was being eroded by insurance rates and emissions issues, and this would be the last year for the high-powered engines. The muscle car party coming to an end, and there were no more Superbirds no convertibles, while the Road Runner and GTX were limited to just one Hardtop model each. This would be the last year for the GTX. Sales plunged by two-thirds and only 14,218 Road Runners were built along with 2,942 GTXs. Base Road Runner price was $3,147 and GTX was $3,733.
The base Road Runner engine remained the 383 cid V-8 that was now down to 300 bhp with a lower compression ratio. For an extra $262, you could order the 385 bhp 440 cid V-8 with “Six-Pack” triple carburetors. The 425 bhp, 426 cid Street Hemi remained available with tis dual 4-barrel carburetors, though it cost $884. Neither big engine was available with air conditioning. The base gearbox was a heavy duty 3-speed manual, though a 4-speed could be added for $206, and an automatic transmission for $238.
The 1971 Plymouth GTX was delivered with the 375 bhp 440 cid V-8 and an automatic transmission, though the 385 bhp “Six-Pack” 440 V-8 was available for $125 and the 425 bhp, 426 Street Hemi V-8 could be added for $747.
Car and Driver tested a base GTX with a 370 bhp 440 cid V-8 with a single four-barrel carburetor and an automatic transmission. Compression ratio was 9.7:1 and the results less than spectacular. The GTX managed 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds, but a quarter mile took 14.9 seconds at 95.4 mph. Top speed was 130 mph. Motor Trend managed almost the exact same figures with a 383-powered Road Runner, with better mileage and cheaper insurance.
Popular Road Runner and GTX options included air conditioning ($383), Road Runner stripes ($34), blackout hood ($18 for Road Runner and GTX), AM/FM stereo tape ($366), vinyl top ($96), air-grabber scoop ($67, standard with Hemi), front disc brakes $28, Sure-Grip differential ($49), and tachometer ($50).
Plymouth offered 31 mostly metallic and high impact colors, and eight interior shades. The colors and codes were Winchester Gray (A4), Slate Gray (A8), Glacier Blue (B2), True Blu (B5), Evening Blue (B7), In-Violet (C7), Moon Indigo (C8), Rally Red (E5), Burnished Red (E7), Amber Sherwood (F3), Sherwood Green (F7), April Green (J4), Sassy Grass Green (J6), Autumn Bronze, (K6), Sandalwood Beige (L1), Bahama Yellow (L5), Moulin Rouge (M3), Turquoise (Q5), Tunisian Tan (T2), Walnut (T8), Tor Red (V2), Spinnaker White (W1), Snow White (W3), Formal Black (X9), Curious Yellow (Y3), Lemon Twist (Y1), Sunflower Yellow (Y2), Yellow Gold (Y3), Light Gold (Y4), Gold (Y8), and Dark Gold (Y9). Interior colors included Blue, Green, Tan, Charcoal and Black, Gold, and Black and White. Vinyl tops tended to be White, Black, Green or Tan.
Plymouth sold 651,812 units in 1971, nine percent less than 1970, while the industry rose 31 percent overall. As a result, the division dropped from third to sixth place nationally. On a brighter note, Richard Petty came back to drive his signature #43 blue Hemi Road Runner and won his 3rd NASCAR Grand National Championship.