By 1980, America had pretty much written off the concept of the muscle car for good, and small cars with small engines were the wave of the future. The base Mustang engine was a 4-cylinder, the mighty Corvette wheezed out 170 horsepower, and the Mopar guys had all but killed off all the great names like Challenger, Charger, Barracuda, and GTX. However, this 9300-mile 1980 Plymouth Road Runner is proof positive that real car guys never die, they just work quietly behind the scenes, and the guys at Mopar, even during the dark years, were true car guys.
For 1980, Plymouth dressed up the Road Runner with blacked-out trim, including the grille and a lot of the trim, giving the car a more sinister, cohesive appearance that actually looks pretty darned good. I like the square headlights instead of the round units in square housings from earlier years, and the taillights are big pieces that remain in excellent condition. And while the Pontiac guys up the street were going crazy with their stripes, decals, lettering, and birds on the hood, Plymouth kept it simple with red accents on the fenders, hood, and around the windows. It’s enough to let you know that this car is not your run-of-the-mill Volare, but not so much that the car becomes a parody of itself. The bright Road Runner decals on the fenders and doors force viewers to remember the great years of Mopar muscle, although the Warner Brothers bird emblems are notably absent by 1980, the Road Runner had grown up.
Power comes from Chrysler’s evergreen 318 cubic inch V8, now generating 120 horsepower thanks to a 2-barrel carburetor and single exhaust. Nevertheless, it moves the relatively lightweight car pretty well, and makes good V8 sounds while doing it.
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