My name is Darrell Reber and I live in Byron, Illinois and here is my story on my first new car I every purchased, just shortly after my twentieth birthday. My father, Hibbard, (Hib) was a truck driver and that’s what placed him in Rochelle, Illinois in late June of 1977, upon passing through at the small town dealership, Krahenbuhl Chrysler/Plymouth, he spied a brilliant orange brand-new 1977 Volare Road Runner that looked freshly delivered. A couple of days later, my father and I returned when the dealership was open and I got to sit behind the wheel and check everything out, and before long we were in a salesman’s office hammering out the finer points of closing the deal. With my dad co-signing for the loan, I bought my first new car for the sum of $5,200.
Although this Volare Road Runner is rather atypical of the breed, powered by a basic 318, hooked to a console shifted automatic and tied to an open chunk rear axle, none of that really mattered and within weeks, the Road Runner was wearing a set of Keystone Klassic mags and fat tires, and that’s the way everybody in Byron came used to seeing day in and day out, summer and winter. I used this car as everyday transportation religiously, until 1984. With just over 100,000 miles on the odometer, the car was showing its age. Reluctantly, I parked the Road Runner in my garage.
In one of those classic “I’m going to fix it up one day” scenarios, I held on to the Road Runner while life ticked on. It remained tucked away in the corner of the garage, out of the weather and out of sight, but not out of my mind or the mind of my wife. Finally, in 2010, my wife delivered the “either fix that thing or sell it to someone who will!” The second option seemed totally out of the question. In no time, I was in contact with all-around Mopar guy Bill Hartson in Port Byron, Illinois, who operates a smaller restoration shop behind his house. Without telling anybody, I spirited the Road Runner out of the garage and trucked it to Bill’s shop for a total restoration. For the next three years, everybody except my wife, son and a few select friends assumed the well-known orange Volare was still sitting tucked away in my garage.
Working on the Volare as an off-and-on project as time, money, and parts finding would allow, Bill Hartson did just about everything you see here in-house. The engine was rebuilt and detailed to factory-fresh condition, every inch of the suspension was rebuilt, all traces of rusted metal were removed and replaced with fresh steel, and by early 2013, everything was going back together. With the new orange paint applied and fresh stripes in place, I installed a fresh set of 14x7” Keystones, everything you see in the cockpit is factory original 1977 equipment except for the front seat covers, which had to be replaced simply because they’d split open along the seams through the years. In June of 2013, with the factory AM/FM blaring and a slightly rumbling exhaust note, I happily drove the reborn Road Runner home through the streets of Byron. All of my friends, and the rest of my family couldn’t believe it when I showed up to take my mother for a ride in what everybody had thought to be a lost cause in the dark corner of my garage!
A year later, I'm now enjoying my orange toy with my soon to be twenty year old son, just as much today as I did back in 1977, if not more so.