The story of my Hemi Road Runner

What can I say? Next to a “wing-car” this is probably the greatest car I could ever hope to own. My 1969 Hemi Road Runner was originally equipped with:

  • 426 Hemi engine
  • 4-speed transmission
  • 4:10 Sure-Grip Dana 60 Differential
  • Air Grabber hood
  • Disk Brakes
  • Q5 Turquoise exterior
  • Black bench seat interior
  • No vinyl roof
  • Radio Delete
  • Heater Delete
  • Tachometer Delete

FENDERTAG

05140 162 77 9A147586
  921 644 605
  26  7W      N96
Q5 Q5 H2X TX9    V21
RM23 E74 D21 A10 100554

I was living in SoCal back in the 1980s and a friend of mine, Tony Dickson said he had a ’69 Hemi Road Runner shell. He told me that the car was purchased years before, by a friend of his who had a ’70 Challenger 340 4-speed car. This person pulled the Hemi, 4-speed, and K-frame, and put the entire package in the Challenger. Somehow, the Dana 60 got shortened and wound up under a Camaro (may the rear rest in piece). The original Air Grabber Hood was sold to someone with a ’69 Satellite Convertible.

This is where Tony stepped in. The Road Runner was nothing more than a shell. Tony offered to take care of it and the person GAVE him the shell. It sat at Tony’s mother’s house (in Hawaii) for several years.

The car was a mess. The trunk was rusty, the 1/4 panels were worse, and time was getting the better part of the entire body. I bought the shell from Tony for a mere $300; but he said it had no front or rear suspension; so I paid a friend of Tony’s, Casey Mullins, $750 for the parts & labor to put some suspension under the car and get it ready to be shipped (I later learned he scavenged the parts from another ’69 383 RR that was sitting up-side down in a sugar cane field.) A shipping charge of $1280 later and I picked up the Hemi Runner from Long Beach Shipping Terminal with my own car and a rented tow-dolly. I also chipped in another $50 as a “bonus” to the guy who parted it out for the fendertag, which had been bouncing around in his glove box for years and viola! I had a legit Hemi car!

I bought an engine for $1500 from a guy in SoCal who ran it in a race boat. It was just bits & pieces, but it was a ’69 Hemi with a ’69 Super Bee VIN on the block.

I bought a Dana 60 rear end for $350 from another guy who was about to shorten it and put it under yet another race car. It had 3.54 gears and my car came with a 4.10 gear, so I started looking for a new ring & pinion. The following week, I was at work and was talking with one of the “old guys” in the shop who had bought new a ’71 Challenger R/T. When I told him about the rear I had just bought, he got a weird look in his eyes, then went to his tool box, opened the bottom drawer, pulled out all of the tools, and then pulled back a layer of shop rags. At the bottom of his toolbox was a 4.10 ring & pinion that he said he had gotten for his Challenger, but (obviously) never used. He handed the gears to me and said “Merry Christmas”.

I dug through the car and found LOTS of rust, but all things considered, it was very fixable. The car only had 47,000 miles on it, but spending it’s life on a small island surrounded by salt water had taken quite a toll over the years. I started collecting parts including a one piece trunk floor from a ’69 GTX that another friend was parting out and a complete main floorboard from another ’69 Road Runner that I parted out.

In early 1989, I was home sick and decided to move back to Virginia. The task of moving my cars (4 of them) cross-country was made in 2 separate trips. The first trip included my car breaking down for 3 days in Kingman Arizona, then getting stuck in a snow storm in Oklahoma. Yes, that’s a 10-speed bike on a bike rack on the Hemi car!

After settling into a new job in Virginia, I re-started looking for parts for my car. I bought a transmission from a guy at the Summer ’89 Carlisle car show. Most sellers were asking $250 for regular 4 speed transmissions when I found a (Ford) guy with a Hemi trans and Pistol Grip shifter. It was labeled: “$425 for everything or $225 for just the shifter”, so I asked him “Your price is $200 for just the transmission?” and he replied “Yes”. I told him to unbolt the shifter and he had to go buy some tools to get the adapter off of the extension housing. We loaded the trans in my wagon, I gave him $200, then he asked “What does this fit?” I told him it was a heavy duty Dodge trans as I walked away, grinning ear-to-ear.

In 1990, my son had just been born and I was short on cash for the hospital bill, so I sold the Runner for $5K. The buyer said he would take good care of the car, but a friend of mine said he saw the car at the Summer ’90 Carlisle car show, listed for 3 TIMES what I sold it for. I guess I was naive, because I’ve never been a car-flipper. I thought I’d never see the car again.

Fast forward to just a few years ago and I’ve become “Facebook friends” with a collector from the mid-west who claims he owns my Hemi Runner. He said he bought it at Carlisle in 1990 for $11K and it is the only non-numbers-matching Hemi car in his collection. We chat from time to time but have yet to connect in person so I can see the car. He sent me this picture:

About hemibill

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