Car Feature: When A Turquoise Road Runner Is Your Best Option

Like any gearhead who is embarking on the world of musclecars, Wes Eisenschenk had a few choice vehicles in mind before he ended up with this Turquoise 1969 Road Runner. As a teenager looking to put himself behind the wheel of a classic musclecar, the Mopar was in the running with some stiff competition.

Wes had test driven a 1969 Mach 1, and made a couple of calls about a 1973 401 Javelin and a 1970 Torino 429 Cobra Jet. But the Road Runner was more local to him, and the asking price was more affordable, so it found a new home.

Photography By Adam Cha

That was about 21 years ago, and it wasn’t finished to the condition you see here. Wes tells us it was a project car when he picked it up, and after doing a little research and learning to decode fender tags, it was found to originally wear Seafoam Turquoise Metallic (Q5) paint, and had the Plymouth Spring Special Package.

It didn’t hurt at all that under the hood resided the 383ci mill and a 4-speed transmission. But then, if you know a little about the Road Runner then you know that it’s really a plain Jane type of car to begin with. It was meant to be fast, not fancy, and the lack of a small block option reinforced that notion.

Is the car “finished”, we asked Wes. He told us, “As long as you’re driving it, it’s never done.” We agree.

Road Runner History

Beginning in 1968, the spartan Road Runner was introduced with essentially one goal in mind: beat Ford and Chevy stop light to stop light. It was the Belvedere’s black sheep little brother, meant to kick ass and take names, and that it did. Initially available as a post car, a hardtop version made its way to the lineup later that year, and it came with basic steel wheels.

The interior was very plain – it had a vinyl bench seat and early models were void of such luxuries as carpeting. A floor shifter for the manual had a single boot instead of a console so it could be used with the bench seat.

It didn’t have any fancy frills (other than what was under the hood) and the options were limited to power steering and front disc brakes, an AM radio, air conditioning, and if you desired to let Ma Mopar handle your shifting, an automatic was available as well. Under the hood, you wouldn’t find the LA engine from the factory; engine choices were limited to the 383 or the optional 426 Hemi.

By 1969, the Road Runner gained a little momentum and a few more options. It was this year that we saw options that would ring in the ears of gearheads the world over: the Air Grabber and the 440 Six Pack. Bucket seats and a convertible option were added, making the car a little more luxurious, though not quite as classy as the trimmed-out GTX – which was known as a gentleman’s Road Runner.

Although the 383 was the standard engine, Wes swapped in a few more cubes with the 440, but kept it looking stock.

By 1970, the Road Runner made its way to the big tracks in the form of the Superbird, the most infamous of Plymouths. This was the car that ran for only one year, being banned from the tracks for being too fast and aerodynamically superior.

From there, the Road Runner would take on more options, more shapes beginning with the 1971 model year, and finally phase out in 1975 with plush interiors and small blocks – completely unlike the first generation Road Runner.

This small, riveted tag is where Wes got his education about his Road Runner. From there, it was the beginning of an incredible journey.

Fender Tags And A Future

But seeing the way this car decoded became the whole point for the restoration for Wes. It was his desire to bring the B-body Mopar back to its former glory and to share it with other enthusiasts at shows.

It took him about five years to tear the car down and put it back together, staying true to its origins with the exception of the 440 he stabbed in under that 383 air cleaner. We chose to keep this as close to a restoration as he could, adding only the bigger mill and a set of Magnum 500 steel wheels and period-correct Coker redline tires.

Beautiful skies and a beautiful car. Who could ask for anything more?

Inside, Wes kept the car completely stock, bringing the car back to the way it appeared on the showroom floor. During those five years, the car saw mostly Wes’ hands doing the work, with only an engine builder to take care of the powerplant, and a bodyman to straighten out the sheetmetal and lay down the beautiful turquoise paint.

Inside and out, the Road Runner is a beauty. Wes brought it back from project car to collector car, and has a few trophies to show for it.

Making A Name For Himself

In addition to taking the gorgeous Road Runner to nearly a dozen shows a year, Wes drives it about 1,500 miles each year, sharing with other Road Runner enthusiasts and talking cars. But unlike many of us who merely talk cars, you might have noticed that the name Wes Eisenschenk sounds a little familiar.

As the acquisition editor for Car Tech, Inc., Wes has penned a couple of books that assist enthusiasts with information about classic cars. One of his books seems to have been a part of the process for his own Road Runner. As a part of the Muscle Cars In Detail series, book number 5 is based on the 1969 Road Runner.

You could probably say Wes cheated a little on this one, having spent a few years learning all about the 1969 Road Runner. But this is one of those situations were art imitated life, and the knowledge he gained from his own restoration was certainly worthy of putting it all in print for future generations of gearheads to learn from.

The other book Wes penned, is right up that alley as well: Lost Muscle Cars. It’s a collection of stories shared by enthusiasts who hunted down, found, or searched for some of the most valuable and rare collector cars.

Two of the books that Wes has penned, one of them sharing the wealth of knowledge he acquired on his own restoration.

Wes has a couple of other cars in his stable, he owns a 2001 Roush Stage 3 convertible Mustang and a 1974 Nova Custom, which just happens to be his first car. With the Roadrunner, he’s performed the trifecta that has some purists cringing: a Ford, a Chevy, and a Mopar. But instead of being the mark of all things evil, we see it more as the mark of all things good, a true enthusiast would have a hard time choosing, and many of us would love to limit our selection to “one of each.”

You could say Wes is living the dream: driving cool cars, writing about them, and being able to show off both his talents and his cars. But when we talked to Wes about this feature, there was just one thing on his mind. “I haven’t seen any photos yet from the shoot….I’m eager to see the smoky burnout shot,” he told us.

Photo gallery

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About the author

Michael Harding

Michael is a Power Automedia contributor and automotive enthusiast who doesn’t discriminate. Although Mopar is in his blood, he loves any car that looks great and drives even faster.
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