The 1971 Plymouth Road Runner holds a special place in the history of American muscle cars. This iconic vehicle burst onto the scene in 1968, embodying the power and performance that defined the era. With its distinctive features, the Road Runner captivated enthusiasts, exceeding all expectations in terms of popularity and sales. Let’s dive into the fascinating story of this legendary automobile.

The Birth of a Legend

In 1968, Plymouth introduced the Road Runner, showcasing the perfect blend of V8 power and a lightweight chassis. Priced affordably from $2,896, this mighty machine attracted buyers not only with its performance but also with its association to the beloved Warner Brothers cartoon character. The response to the Road Runner was nothing short of astonishing. While Chrysler Corporation product planners anticipated modest sales of 2,500 units, a staggering 44,599 vehicles rolled out of showrooms in 1968, followed by 84,420 in 1969.

The Super Bee Joins the Race

The success of the Road Runner didn’t go unnoticed by Dodge, leading the division to introduce its own version, the Super Bee. This powerful sibling proved that the idea behind the Road Runner was valid and sought to capture its share of the market. The competition between these two iconic vehicles intensified, fueling the muscle car frenzy that captivated enthusiasts during that era.

Restyling and Reinvention

By 1971, the Road Runner underwent restyling to keep up with the evolving automotive landscape. The rear track was widened by 3.0 inches, contributing to enhanced stability and handling. Other notable updates included flush door handles and ventless side glass, which improved aerodynamics. A functional hood scoop, operated at the touch of a button, added both style and functionality to the Road Runner’s design.

Challenges and Changes

However, the 1970s brought challenges for muscle cars due to increased insurance premiums. The insurance industry cracked down on these high-performance vehicles, leading to decreased demand and sales. Despite the Road Runner’s formidable engine options, including the legendary 426 cubic-inch Hemi and the 440 cubic-inch V8s, the total sales for the 1971 model year plummeted to a disappointing 14,128 units. Moreover, this marked the end of the road for the 426 and 440 engine options in the Road Runner.

The Power Within

Our featured 1971 Plymouth Road Runner is a stunning Curious Yellow model, propelled by the formidable 440 V8 engine. Equipped with six two-throat carburetors, also known as the 440 Six Pack, this powerhouse delivers an impressive 385 horsepower at 4700 RPM and 490 pound-feet of torque at 3200. The combination of raw power and the Road Runner’s iconic design makes this vehicle a true automotive gem.


The 1971 Plymouth Road Runner played a significant role in the muscle car legacy. From its humble beginnings as an unexpected success to its restyled form, this vehicle left an indelible mark on the automotive world. Despite facing challenges, the Road Runner remains an emblem of power, performance, and the untamed spirit of the muscle car era.


  1. What made the 1971 Plymouth Road Runner so popular? The 1971 Plymouth Road Runner captured the hearts of car enthusiasts with its combination of V8 power, lightweight chassis, affordable price, and association with the beloved cartoon character.
  2. How did the Road Runner influence the Super Bee? The success of the Road Runner led Dodge to introduce its own version, the Super Bee, which aimed to compete in the muscle car market and share the spotlight with its Plymouth sibling.
  3. Why did the sales of the Road Runner decline in 1971? The insurance industry’s crackdown on muscle cars and increased premiums impacted the demand for high-performance vehicles like the Road Runner, resulting in decreased sales.
  4. What were the engine options for the 1971 Road Runner? The 1971 Road Runner offered impressive engine options, including the renowned 426 cubic-inch Hemi and the 440 cubic-inch V8s, marking the end of an era for these powerful engines.
  5. What is the power output of the featured 1971 Road Runner? The featured 1971 Plymouth Road Runner, equipped with the 440 V8 engine and the 440 Six Pack setup, delivers an exhilarating 385 horsepower at 4700 RPM and 490 pound-feet of torque at 3200.