Has the lowest-mileage 1970 Road Runner been found in an Ohio garage?

28
This 1970 Road Runner may be the lowest-mileage example of such a vehicle in existence. It was found by a collector in an Ohio garage. | Eric VanDamia photos
This 1970 Road Runner may be the lowest-mileage example of such a vehicle in existence. It was found by a collector in an Ohio garage. | Eric VanDamia photos

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.

The Road Runner looked to be in relatively good condition when it rolled out of the garage for the first time in more than four decades.
The Road Runner looked to be in relatively good condition when it rolled out of the garage for the first time in more than four decades.

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.

The tires (including the spare) still have the grease pencil writing on them from workers at the factory.
The tires (including the spare) still have the grease pencil writing on them from workers at the factory.

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.

The Road Runner sat in a garage for 44 years
The Road Runner sat in a garage for 44 years

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.”

RELATED:  McLaren announces Artura ‘high-performance hybrid’ for 2021
Let the judging begin
Let the judging begin

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.

The engine paint tag found inside the engine bay even got the experts excited.
The engine paint tag found inside the engine bay even got the experts excited.

“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 had to pull the original spark plugs (pictured) to get the car to start. He kept them to show the judges.
VanDamia had to pull the original spark plugs (pictured) to get the car to start. He kept them to show the judges.

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.

The Road Runner looked nearly factory fresh after a thorough cleaning.
The Road Runner looked nearly factory fresh after a thorough cleaning.

“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.

Advertisement
Carter Nacke is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He began his career at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix, the largest news radio station in Arizona, where he specialized in breaking news and politics. A burgeoning interest in classic cars took him to the Journal in 2018. He's still on the hunt for his dad's old 1969 Camaro.

28 COMMENTS

  1. I can appreciate that the car has low mileage but I really think it is a shame not to drive every once in a while. Cars are meant to be driven, they are not artwork. Just my opinion.

    • It’s called not putting miles on it. If you’re so dead set on driving one of these cars then go get one with on normal amount of miles on it and drive that one. It would be the same thing without putting any miles a 5000 mile example. This guy knows what he’s doing can you don’t. I think he’s very smart.

  2. not much point buying it if he isn’t going to drive it. Someone needs to explain to him that cars are built to drive and enjoy, especially muscle cars.

  3. Hilarious to see people "chasing" a car most didn’t want in its day. As us oldsters know, the "Road Runner" was the ultra-low-cost alternative to the Plymouth line for those who obviously couldn’t afford a "real" GTX or Satellite. Everybody knew "who you were" when you showed up with one of these cheapies. Plymouth had a second agenda here: you COULD option it to anywhere you wanted, which meant you had everything available but didn’t need to pay more than $3300 to start.

    • There is a fellow that lives about a mile from me that I went to school with. He is my age which is 67 . His Dad passed away in the mid 70’s .Before he died he and his son bought two roadrunners both of them were 1970. When he died his son parked them in the garage . and they haven’t seen the light of day since. What a shame ,. that was 43 years ago those cars are probably locked up tighter than a bulls behind.

    • For a car that nobody wanted they certainly sold quite a bit of them. They were also a purpose built car. They were made to sell cheap not made cheap. They were no frills to keep cost and weight down. I owned a 1969 road runner heater and radio delete, pop out rear windows, steel wheels with poverty caps, 383 super commando with a four speed This car was built and bought for one reason. Street racing. The man who was the original owner was a very wealthy man who could of bought whatever he wanted. He did he loved the concept and the car. I now own a 1968 Plymouth sport fury convertible 440 super commando. The original owner said he special ordered the sport fury because he wanted the 440 but did not care for the Gtx. Who knows The Gtx is a great car. I guess people just have preferences and different taste. The road runner ordered with a hemi compared to a Gtx with the same option the only difference is more chrome, some woodgrain ,and fancier interior. mechanically and structurally same car. In 70 the road runners had 440 available in six pack and super commando the same as the GTx and the road runners were available with more amenities and able to be much fancier. They are both great cars. I don’t believe anyone ever shunned or ran away from either

    • Um, no. people ‘knew who you were’ alright , you were either very cool and ‘got’ the whole thing, or you wanted to go fast. The RoadRunner was lighter [as well as cheaper] than the GTX or the satellite, which in 70 was a cruiser, not a bruiser. Thats why Plymouth sold so many and they command such ridiculously high prices today.

  4. What a find! And here is proof that the stripe on these comes out of the center of the side scoop. I have seen restorations where it is off center, even
    on Graveyard Cars, who thinks he is the god of all mopar facts. I am just
    happy it was found and being preserved…..

  5. Impossible to believe after 44 years the engine and tranny seals aren’t dried out brakes not locked up and mice haven’t eaten up the interior. And tires weren’t dry rotted? Something sounds fishy.

    • Per the tires or other rubber rotting, they don’t if kept out of sunlight. About 15 years ago I bought a 1952 Ford F5 from a wharehouse near Cleveland Hopkins Airport. The truck had 3434 miles and it’s original tires. It sat buired under tarps and just "stuff" for decades. We replaced the front but the rears are still on it. I think we put about 15K on using at farmers markets.

    • i bought a 1970 440 6 pack exactly like this one with 40,013 miles on it it sat in back yard for since new but last tag on plate was 1974 i think but it had dirt up to the rim tires were sinking into the ground the seats were perfect but when you sat in them the y cracked had to replace all covers from year one had same pistol grip shifter hood scoop air grabber same wilecoyote oval air filter the element was still in it but totally rotted away the dealer put a racer brown cam in car new as a promotional hot rod thing and it had full valley pan gasket was a bitch to get lined up perfect the mechanic striped a bolt into head he taped it out installed biger bolt low a nd behold right below that biger bolt the cam lobe went flat the shavings from tap ate the cam they parked it thinking carbs were fck up sat i bought in 2005 my brother gave me 10,000 to buy it he was killed in plane crash i got shot in robbery attempt then went to prison got out in 08 finished car sold it to joe amato for 43,500 he deducted 1500 because i had replaced the radiator with a exact replica from year one but no original serial number on radiator so knocked off 1500 im all fck i scraped radiator for 80 bucks stupid ass oh well live and learn i guess but i had fun building it all back painted original color plum crazy it was nice car i didnt really want to sell it but i figured im going to wreck it get rid of it i love to drive fast i own zx14 ride the tires off that thing it is the king of the road !!

  6. And in 44 years someone will find it in his garage and drool over the low mileage. Drive them people, have you seen the plastic crap on the roads today.

  7. Everybody seems to cherish these classic cars. They talk about them like they were their children but onced they get them the car gets restored in a different garage maybe to take to auction, sold and then garaged again. Nobody is having any fun. I say drive til the wheels fall off.

  8. I had to laugh ! How can you consider a vehicle that’s for sale "to all" on a public site be a "garage find" ? He didn’t "find" anything, he was just the first one to buy it.

  9. It is a vehicular sin not to drive this perfect example of a muscle car. Don’t get me wrong,I don’t mean make it a daily driver.however,a cars sole being is to be driven. I swear sometimes I really don’t get people with money ,but that’s me. Drive that animal dammit…

    • Look at it like a kid on a hot day in the park with an ice cream cone. Rather than just eating and enjoying it he has to tease everyone around him with it and let it go to waste.

  10. If this is evenly remotely true, two things are apparent: 1. The seller is an idiot for not getting it appraised before selling it , and 2. The buyer is screwing the seller out of thousands of dollars.

    • I had a friend in El Cajon California who was a master mechanic for a new car Chevrolet dealer. He purchased a new 1969 camaro yenko and rarely if ever drove it. Sadly he passed away over 15 years ago and a family friend of theirs screwed the widow out of the car for a song and dance. She had no idea what the market value of the car was until long afterwards. And I don’t think that car had 3000 miles on it but he preserved it properly.

  11. Thanks for the article. Is it our place to question the validity of any of this? Is it our place to tell this man what to do with his car? Face it, y’all are jealous that it’s not your car getting the attention! If you want one so bad, go buy/build your own.

    • James I need to call you out on your comments. First of all any doctor(dentist) that places his obsession over his patients care and well being should not be in practice. And to place such an article (name included) may certainly draw attention to the ADA as well as potential law suits. Was this such an emergency that the car had priority over humanity? Certainly more money than brains.
      It also makes me wonder how many other deep pockets are throwing away big money just to be able to hoard huge collections of cars etc when the average person cannot afford dental care much less food to put in their mouth.

      • Jim A. "Take a Lap"……….you have no idea what kind of DDS Carter is….your just jealous you either didn’t find the car or you don’t have the money to buy one…..

        • Darn right I’m jealous, it’s rich people like this that have driven the prices of muscle cars out of the reach of the average person. I would love to own a car like I had in high school but the prices are outrageous. He probably drove a Ford Pinto and paid to have the oil changed. 396 Chevelle SS forever!,

      • I agree with you. I would’ve raised hell if it were me that this so called ‘dentist’ cancelled on. Cancel the 2 root canals in the morning…….but they charge a fee if the patient cancels too late.

  12. The 1970 barn fine of the Roadrunner was a great story, I have a1969 Roadrunner that is mostly original. I love Mopar story’s. Congratulations on the find.

  13. i’d pro street that thing out just to piss off all the mopar heads, the only people that like these cars are mopar fanatics that like square box cars. the starters sound like they are all crudded up and dragging. tin can car.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here