Curbside Classic: 1971 Plymouth Road Runner – Sherwood Be Nice

(first posted 6/30/2012)   When I found this car a few months ago, I really wanted to like it.  Truly, I did.

I’ve always been a fan of the ’71 Road Runner (and its Satellite coupe siblings).  The Road Runner / Satellite / GTX was new for 1971, and much rounder than the previous generation of Road Runner.  As a child of the ’70s and ’80s, I think one reason for this affinity can be easily ascertained.  Remember this?

Perhaps I was unduly influenced when I was young and impressionable; it wouldn’t be the first time that’s  happened to a youngster.  I’m also partial to Dodge’s Monaco of 1977 and 1978 (also seen in the clip, in white), which is a cousin to this Road Runner since the Monaco evolved from the ’71 Satellite sedan.

So why didn’t I like this particular example of the 14,218 Road Runners built for 1971?  It wasn’t the near mullet it sported, with the skinnies in the front and fatties in the back.  On Road Runners and Satellites of this era, that seems to be as routine as ’57 Chevrolets at car shows.

Was it the color?  Far from being anything I would pick, it does appear to be close to “Amber Sherwood Metallic”, which was a factory color in 1971.  I cannot imagine anyone choosing this color for a color change, so I’m speculating it might be the original color – dare I suspect even the original paint?

Might it have been the white interior?  In these days of gray interiors, seeing a white interior is as refreshing as a glass of sweet tea on a hot day.  The white interior was only enhanced by bucket seats with a pistol grip shifter for the four-speed transmission.  There is nothing about it I find unsavory.


Did the spoiler ruin the look of the car?  It didn’t do the Road Runner any favors in appearance, nor did its visible signs of separation.  Still, it wasn’t repellant – nothing that couldn’t be corrected if one was so inclined.  It also seemed to indicate a degree of originality, much like the color.

Was it the 400-cu in (6.6-liter) V8 advertised on the front fender and hood “scoops”?  I think we have a winner!  There was no 400-cu in V8 available in any 1971 Plymouth.  If you bought a Road Runner, a 383 was standard and a 440 V8 or 426 “Hemi” V8 were optional.  One possibility that comes to mind is that someone at some time modified the stroke of the 383 to achieve 400 cubic inches, but I am skeptical of that theory.  My money is on the engine having been swapped at some point.  Road Runners were never driven harshly to warrant such a thing, were they?

After further thought, I think I do like this Road Runner.  I’m suspecting it may be highly original, a trait that is becoming quite popular – as well it should be!  It just needs those dumb 400 stickers removed from its front end.

Here’s a more extensive look at the design (and its influences) of the 1971 Sebring coupe by PN