Classic muscle car era Mopars are hot these days – hot as in wildly popular. Take a quick look at the prices muscle cars bring these days, whether at auction, or more realistically, transactions between private parties, and among the most valuable are the rare and desirable Mopars. It’s easy to see why collectors and enthusiasts are paying big money for these cars. Mopars have become muscle car icons – their wild colors and graphic packages provide visual sizzle that’s more than backed up by some of the strongest and most powerful drivetrains ever released from MoTown captivity.

 

With all of this in mind, YearOne started work on our first Mopar project car in late ’05. We knew we wanted to start with a classic Mopar package, and we also knew we would build the car in our now well-established style – update the chassis and drivetrain for modern levels of handling and power while maintaining and enhancing the classic muscle car look. YearOne project cars see lots of use (and more than their share of abuse), and none of our projects have ever been trailer queens. Our Mopar would be no different.

 

The first hurdle was deciding exactly what to build. E-bodies (Barracudas and Challengers) have always been popular, and it would be hard to go wrong building a cool Mopar pony car – which is why so many others are building E-bodies. We wanted something different – a B-body. After building a couple of coupes, we also wanted another convertible. So we started looking for a B-body ragtop. What we found was a rare 1969 Road Runner convertible powered by a 383 backed by a four speed. It was even red! Yes, this combo would do nicely.

 

Unfortunately, like many convertibles that have sat idle for extended periods of time, this car was extremely rusty. The floors were gone. Literally. The exterior sheetmetal was in bad shape, and much of the underlying structure was rotted away. This was the type of car we warn most folks away from when they’re looking for a project car simply because it will cost far more to fix than buying a better example up front. But, these cars don’t exactly grow on trees, and we get a good deal on parts, so….

 

Every exterior piece of sheetmetal on the car was replaced, and obviously we had to replace the floors. We patched up the other areas by fabricating pieces where necessary. After more than two months (and a bunch of effort), we finally had the basic metalwork completed, and could begin building the car itself.

 

The idea behind the car was to incorporate some the well-known styling elements from Mopar muscle cars on the B-body, while keeping the body of the car relatively mod-free. Along the same lines, the drivetrain would stay basically as-delivered in ’69, philosophically speaking, anyway, but would get some updates for power and functionality.
The end result is the Red Runner. The exterior of the body hasn’t been altered a bit, although we did add an interpretation of the famous ‘Cuda billboard stripes. The color is Viper Red, and we had a ‘glass hood made incorporating a scoop that’s a cross between a B-body 6-pack and a Challenger T/A. We incorporated ‘Cuda 
Road Lamps up front, and fabbed up a front spoiler just because we thought it needed one.
Inside the car we recovered the original seats in black and red leather, and made some custom rear panels to incorporate speakers for the sound system. We added some gauges to a custom instrument panel to keep an eye on things underhood, and upgraded the steering wheel. Otherwise, it’s pretty much standard ’69 Road Runner in the cockpit.

 

Speaking of underhood, we expanded on Mother Mopar’s offerings a bit. The original 383 was long gone from the car, and in its place we dropped a prototype 500-inch wedge YearOne crate engine. We’re currently expanding the YearOne crate engine program, and soon customers will be able to purchase a 450-horse 500-inch RB engine that’s very similar to this example.

 

The production crate engine will differ from Red Runner’s engine in one main way – the one-off custom 6-pack EFI setup. We wanted to retain the ’69 flavor in the engine compartment of the RR, and also wanted fuel injection. So we worked with a fuel-injection specialist to create a system that uses three two-barrel throttle bodies with port injection on a modified Edelbrock 6-pack intake. Cool. This arrangement allowed us to use reproduction 6-pack air cleaner stuff for a nice, sort-of-original look under the hood, complete with Coyote Duster decal, of course.

 

Backing up the 500-horse stroker big-block is a Tremec 5-speed tranny. We originally wanted to use a Viper 6-speed in the car, but that would preclude the use of the original console due to a different shifter location. The rear axle assembly is an 8-3/4” unit, geared 3.73, with Sure-Grip and a Mopar Performance aluminum center section.

 

Perhaps the biggest departure on the car is the suspension. While we were building the Runner, we began talking with the guys at Air Ride Technologies about their muscle car products. One area Air Ride had not yet explored was Mopars. One thing led to another, and Air Ride prototyped their B-and E-body setup on our car. The system uses a tubular K-member and uses Shock-Wave bag/shock assemblies for good handling, a comfortable ride and adjustable height. While we were replacing much of the structural sheetmetal in the rear, we opened up the rear wheelhouses a bit to accept a big wheel/tire package.

 

Another major update to the car was in the brake area. Baer Racing’s latest 6-piston caliper setup is used on their 14-inch two-piece rotors up front, while single-piston calipers grip 12-inch rotors in the back. The wheels were custom built for us by Colorado Custom, and look modern while showing off the cool brake hardware. Tires, as always on YearOne projects, come from BF Goodrich.
We’ve had the car together for a while now, and has been solid and reliable so far. We’ve had to tweak on the injection a bit to enhance driveability, and we’ve changed from a manual master cylinder to a Hydro-Boost unit to actuate the big Baers. We’ve also upgraded the steering to a rack and pinion unit since the car was first built, along with changing to hydraulic clutch actuation from the original mechanical linkage. As with most hot rods, we continue to tweak on the Runner, and we expect this will continue.

 

The Red Runner started off in rough shape, but we think it has turned out well. Quite a bit of work was involved, but hey, we think we saved a rare example of Mopar muscle from a slow, rusty demise. What could be better?

Vehicle Specifications:


Engine:



505-inch Wedge V8 built by
Hi-Tech Engines 9.5:1 compression ratio

Billet Specialties belt system

F&B Performance 3×2 bbl
EFI system

FAST XFI fuel management

YearOne reproduction 440

HP exhaust manifolds

Cooling System:



Be Cool aluminum radiator

Be Cool/SPAL electric fans

Transmission/Clutch:



Keisler/Tremec 5-speed

Ram clutch

Hydraulic actuation

Lakewood bellhousing

Rear Axle:



Mopar 8-3/4 housing

Mopar Performance aluminum center section

Auburn Pro limited slip

Moser axles

Rear Suspension:



Air Ride AirBar 4-link

Air Ride Shockwave system

Hotchkis sway bar

Body:



Southern Polyurethane

Viper Red paint

Glasstek fiberglass hood (hinged)

Cuda drivings lights

YearOne front spoiler (modified)

Kee Auto Tops convertible top

Wheels:



Colorado Custom billet

18″x8″ Front

19″x10″ Rear

Tires:


BF Goodrich g-Force KDW

255-40-18 front

295-35-19 rear

Entertainment System:


Alpine DVD head unit

Boston Amps/Speakers

Fuel System:



YearOne reproduction tank

Walbro in-tank pumps (2)

Aeromotive filter and regulator

Front Suspension:


OEM front K-member

Air Ride Shockwave system

Hotchkis sway bar

Brakes:



Baer Racing 6-piston
front calipers 14″ rotors

Single piston rear calipers
12″ rear rotors

Gauges:



Classic Instruments