What could be the lowest-mileage 1970 Plymouth Road Runner in existence was recently found by a collector in an Ohio garage.
Eric VanDamia, avid collector of all things Mopar, was browsing ClassicCars.com a few weeks ago when he came across a listing for the ’70 Road Runner 440cid Six Pack with a four-speed manual transmission. The listing contained photos of a couple quarter panels and indicated just 5,000 miles were on the car’s odometer.
VanDamia was wary.
“I’ve chased a lot of cars and it usually doesn’t end well,” he said.
But he called the person selling the car, just to be sure. She told VanDamia the car had been owned by her uncle since new and it was the final remaining piece of his estate.
“Apparently, [the uncle] worked for Premier Organization, which made interior plastic parts for the Big 3 in the 1970s,” VanDamia said. “I don’t know how he got the car. I don’t know if it was given to him. She really didn’t know. She said, ‘One day, a gentleman showed up and gave him the car’.”
The seller recalled getting ice cream in the car with her uncle several times. For some reason, in 1974, he chained the car in the garage, installed a dealer alarm, drained the water and never drove it again.
“I don’t know if it scared the life out of him or something happened,” VanDamia said.
After he heard the story, VanDamia immediately planned to make the trip from his home in Pennsylvania to Cleveland to see the car, even resheduling a few of his dental patients to see the car.
“Cancel the three root canals I have tomorrow morning,” he recalled telling his staff. “They said, ‘You can’t do that.’ I said, ‘Yes, I can.’
“I’d never done anything like that before.”
VanDamia inspected the car — he said the exterior was covered in raccoon feces — but found the numbers to be matching and suspected the mileage was accurate because of the relative cleanliness of the engine bay. All the tires, including the spare, retained their grease pencil makings, indicating they had been filled at the factory.
He and the seller struck a deal and the Road Runner was VanDamia’s. But that’s not where the story ends.
A few weeks after purchasing the car, he took it to the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals show in Illinois, where it was inspected by top Mopar experts, including Dave Wise.
“They said, ‘This is truly, certifiably one of the lowest-production 1970 Mopars that we’ve ever seen for mileage’,” VanDamia said of the judges’ reactions. “It was the lowest Six Pack Road Runner they had ever seen.”
The car scored an eight of 10 possible points and was determined to be all-original after about 14 hours of examinations.
“The three judges think that this car is quite possibly the lowest-mile 440 Six Pack Road Runner on the planet right now,” VanDamia wrote in an email. “They have not seen one this original ever.”
The judges found some quirks with the vehicle. It had a factory-installed 1969 lower control arm and the stripe on the left side of the front of the vehicle was installed backward. The motor was built on October 31, 1969, but it wasn’t installed until eight months later.
“This was just kind of put together from Chrysler, one of the latest ones they ran for the ’70 model year because it was built in May of ’70,” VanDamia said.
One of the coolest discoveries on the car was an index card used during the factory paint process. Typically, these were removed before the cars were shipped but this one — complete with the orange paint — was found pinched in the motor mount.
“We were excited,” VanDamia said. “I’ve seen a ton of original Mopars and a bunch of cool cars, but nobody has ever seen one of these.”
The car still runs. VanDamia had the fuel tank resealed and replaced the spark plugs — he brought the originals to the MCACN judging — but he said it fired right up, just as it did when it was chained up in 1974.
VanDamia said he buys about four or five cars a year for his collection. But the ’70 Road Runner will be the one he talks about for years to come.
There is talk of him transporting it to a couple of local car shows, but VanDamia said he wouldn’t be opposed to taking it on the national show circuit should the car be invited.
VanDamia said the car has an estimated sale value of at least $175,000, but he plans to keep it in his garage for the time being.
“I’ve had a lot of Mopars and I still own a lot of Mopars, but this is definitely one of the more special ones,” he said. “I’ve had a couple of big, stupid offers on the car already.
“I said, ‘No, it’s not for sale yet.’ It’s one of those things where we’re going to enjoy it for a little bit.”
And by enjoy, he means looking at it. VanDamia has no plans to jump behind the wheel himself.
“It’s not getting touched,” he said.