Muscle Car Madness: Tim Dunn’s 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner

Click Here to Begin Slideshow Tim Dunn has a unique story about acquiring his 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner in 1994. “I attended a wedding and joked with a gentleman about trading my ’51 Meteor Coupe for his ’70 Roadrunner. I owned a 1950 Mercury Pick-up and a ’72 Plymouth Scamp, but I had always wanted a Mopar,” confesses Tim. “The man laughed and declined, saying this one was a keeper, so I assumed that was the end of it.” The next morning, Tim was working on his Meteor when he heard a rumble coming up the street. He recognized the Roadrunner and the couple he spoke to at the wedding. “The husband got out of the car and threw the keys at me and said: You want your Mopar, you got your Mopar! I was stunned, but I found out that after the wedding reception the husband took his wife for a little blast on the highway as it started to rain. As the car reached 110 mph, the wiper blade blew off the passenger’s side, scaring his wife as she screamed for her husband to trade the car before they both got killed in it.” Hardly surprising when you consider the muscle under the hood is a V Code 440 Six Barrel, 4-speed that has one intention – press the throttle and leave your brain slapped against the cranium. “It’s a handful with the 4-speed and manual steering,” admits Tim. “This car was built to go in one direction – straight, a quarter mile at a time.” What a trade-off! At least, that is what Tim thought, but under the varnished purple surface, the termites of spite had already started to erode this impregnable body to an arthritic state. This was a car that had a pedigree of racing blood in it. “I know the second owner was John Adams, a prominent local drag racer, and I have some pictures of the car at Luskville Dragway during the early ‘70s.” Although it only clocked 80,000 miles, it had experienced years of wear-and-tear, resulting in metal fatigue. The car’s vital signs were weak and Tim needed to perform a tracheotomy on the transmission, an EKG on the engine, and the dreaded colostomy on the frame and body. Little did Tim realize that such an operation would take six years to complete. Tim had the help of Al Stigter of ASE Motorsports in Osgoode, Ontario. Al is a magician with anything metal, especially on Dodge Chargers and Plymouth Roadrunners, while Dave Power of Power Automotive in Ottawa, Ontario, rebuilt the engine – an engineering feat that took two years to bring back to a recognizable head-turning rumble. “I have the correct date-coded engine block that has been bored 40-thousands over,” confirms Tim, “but the hardest part to maintain is keeping the three carburetors in tune and leak free. I painted it FC7 in In-violet (Dodge called this Plum Crazy), because that was the original colour and that colour was only available in 1970 and 1971.” It certainly paid off in the end. The car has won several awards, but two really stand out for Tim. “It was the only Canadian car selected to be in the American Muscle Car exhibit in Norwich, New York. And in 2010, at the Chrysler Nationals in Carlisle, artist Dave Snyder picked it from 5,000 cars as his favourite. Dave is commissioned by NASCAR to do the official portrait of the annual Daytona 500 winner. His work is displayed at the Daytona International Speedway,” boasts Tim with a gleam in his eye. But whatever you do, never tick off a Canadian. “The day I was asked to put my car in the Northeast Classic car show (museum), my wife and I were at a show in Weedsport, New York and the weather was quite bad. I told the man from the Museum that I would think about it as I was unsure. Minutes later, two guys came by and one said, ‘Hey look at this car, it’s pretty nice.’ But his buddy replied, ‘Yeah, but it’s a Canadian car; let’s go!’ That made up my mind. My car was going into the Museum with one stipulation: that the Ontario license plates stay on so everyone would know it was Canadian owned!” It has been a sweet ride, but the history of the ’70 Roadrunner, like so many other Mopars during the decade, is an inevitable one as sales dropped by a dramatic 50 percent in 1971 partly due to exorbitant insurance rates on all high-octane muscle cars and the introduction of the cheaper, lighter and more fuel efficient Plymouth Duster 340, a car that qualified for a much lower insurance rate. “Since restoring the car, I have enjoyed every minute of it - even the blood, sweat and tears - for it has given me patience, determination and enormous pride in reaching a goal. I have had this car for 20 years and I think it’s time to stop wrestling with its manual steering and get myself a 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner convertible with an automatic transmission and power steering.” Tim laughs. “I must be getting old.”

Muscle Car Madness: Tim Dunn's 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner

Click Here to Begin Slideshow

Tim Dunn has a unique story about acquiring his 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner in 1994.

“I attended a wedding and joked with a gentleman about trading my ’51 Meteor Coupe for his ’70 Roadrunner. I owned a 1950 Mercury Pick-up and a ’72 Plymouth Scamp, but I had always wanted a Mopar,” confesses Tim. “The man laughed and declined, saying this one was a keeper, so I assumed that was the end of it.”

The next morning, Tim was working on his Meteor when he heard a rumble coming up the street. He recognized the Roadrunner and the couple he spoke to at the wedding. “The husband got out of the car and threw the keys at me and said: You want your Mopar, you got your Mopar! I was stunned, but I found out that after the wedding reception the husband took his wife for a little blast on the highway as it started to rain. As the car reached 110 mph, the wiper blade blew off the passenger’s side, scaring his wife as she screamed for her husband to trade the car before they both got killed in it.”

Hardly surprising when you consider the muscle under the hood is a V Code 440 Six Barrel, 4-speed that has one intention – press the throttle and leave your brain slapped against the cranium. “It’s a handful with the 4-speed and manual steering,” admits Tim. “This car was built to go in one direction – straight, a quarter mile at a time.”

What a trade-off! At least, that is what Tim thought, but under the varnished purple surface, the termites of spite had already started to erode this impregnable body to an arthritic state. This was a car that had a pedigree of racing blood in it. “I know the second owner was John Adams, a prominent local drag racer, and I have some pictures of the car at Luskville Dragway during the early ‘70s.” Although it only clocked 80,000 miles, it had experienced years of wear-and-tear, resulting in metal fatigue. The car’s vital signs were weak and Tim needed to perform a tracheotomy on the transmission, an EKG on the engine, and the dreaded colostomy on the frame and body. Little did Tim realize that such an operation would take six years to complete.

Tim had the help of Al Stigter of ASE Motorsports in Osgoode, Ontario. Al is a magician with anything metal, especially on Dodge Chargers and Plymouth Roadrunners, while Dave Power of Power Automotive in Ottawa, Ontario, rebuilt the engine – an engineering feat that took two years to bring back to a recognizable head-turning rumble. “I have the correct date-coded engine block that has been bored 40-thousands over,” confirms Tim, “but the hardest part to maintain is keeping the three carburetors in tune and leak free. I painted it FC7 in In-violet (Dodge called this Plum Crazy), because that was the original colour and that colour was only available in 1970 and 1971.”

It certainly paid off in the end. The car has won several awards, but two really stand out for Tim. “It was the only Canadian car selected to be in the American Muscle Car exhibit in Norwich, New York. And in 2010, at the Chrysler Nationals in Carlisle, artist Dave Snyder picked it from 5,000 cars as his favourite. Dave is commissioned by NASCAR to do the official portrait of the annual Daytona 500 winner. His work is displayed at the Daytona International Speedway,” boasts Tim with a gleam in his eye.

But whatever you do, never tick off a Canadian. “The day I was asked to put my car in the Northeast Classic car show (museum), my wife and I were at a show in Weedsport, New York and the weather was quite bad. I told the man from the Museum that I would think about it as I was unsure. Minutes later, two guys came by and one said, ‘Hey look at this car, it’s pretty nice.’ But his buddy replied, ‘Yeah, but it’s a Canadian car; let’s go!’ That made up my mind. My car was going into the Museum with one stipulation: that the Ontario license plates stay on so everyone would know it was Canadian owned!” It has been a sweet ride, but the history of the ’70 Roadrunner, like so many other Mopars during the decade, is an inevitable one as sales dropped by a dramatic 50 percent in 1971 partly due to exorbitant insurance rates on all high-octane muscle cars and the introduction of the cheaper, lighter and more fuel efficient Plymouth Duster 340, a car that qualified for a much lower insurance rate.

“Since restoring the car, I have enjoyed every minute of it - even the blood, sweat and tears - for it has given me patience, determination and enormous pride in reaching a goal. I have had this car for 20 years and I think it’s time to stop wrestling with its manual steering and get myself a 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner convertible with an automatic transmission and power steering.” Tim laughs. “I must be getting old.”

Muscle Car Madness: Tim Dunn's 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner 1

Muscle Car Madness: Tim Dunn's 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner 2

Muscle Car Madness: Tim Dunn's 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner 3

Muscle Car Madness: Tim Dunn's 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner 4

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About Clive Branson 26 Articles
Clive Branson is a photography graduate from Parsons School of Design in New York City and has since divided his career as an advertising creative director/copywriter and as a freelance writer/photographer. He is the author of Focus On Close-Up and Macro Photography and numerous articles for magazines and newspapers throughout North America and Britain. Clive lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario.

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