Plymouth Road Runner, Other High-Performance Rarities to Cross Block at Food Lion AutoFair
A meticulously restored Plymouth Road Runner with a rare and desirable "Hemi" engine will rumble across the auction block with 200 other collector cars during Charlotte Motor Speedway's Food Lion AutoFair, which takes place on a new date this year - Aug. 26-29.
The Dealer Auctions sale on Friday and Saturday of AutoFair is just one of the show's special attractions. Spectators will also enjoy the world's only collection of street legal bumper cars, a display of tailgate party vehicles, a 70th anniversary exhibit of 1940 Fords and a visit from 92-year-old internet phenomenon and recent "The Tonight Show" guest Rachel Veitch and her 563,000-mile '64 Mercury Comet.
Fall Speedway Collector Car Auction
Musclecar collectors will be ready to bid when a rare ice blue metallic 1969 Plymouth Road Runner owned by Bruce Kepley, of Charlotte, N.C., crosses the block during the two-day sale.
Kepley purchased his Plymouth in 2000, then spent eight years collecting the correct parts for a proper nuts-and-bolts reconstruction. His '69 is one of 193 Road Runner sedans built with Hemi V-8s and four-speed transmissions that year, so Kepley wanted it brought back to perfection.
Just Metal Restorations, of Albemarle, N.C., stripped the car to bare metal and attached it to a rotisserie that allowed full access to every square inch of the Plymouth's body, inside and out. After a year of labor-intensive work, the Road Runner was as good as, maybe better than, new. Kepley's sedan was displayed, by invitation, at the Chrysler Nationals in Carlisle, Pa., alongside one of four Road Runner Hemi four-speed convertibles, a rarity whose estimated value exceeds $1 million.
Plymouth created the Road Runner as a 1968 model by placing its most powerful V-8 engines in its cheapest mid-size chassis with minimal standard equipment and very few options. The company reportedly paid Warner Bros. $50,000 for the rights to use the popular cartoon bird and another $10,000 to develop the car's "beep beep" horn, hoping to attract 2,000 buyers.
Instead, 44,599 musclecar lovers drove home the super-fast, stripped-down Road Runners at $2,870 each, or $3,584 with the gotta-have-it 425-horsepower, 426-cid Hemi V-8.
Plymouth changed very little on its 1969 Road Runner, although a convertible joined the previous year's two-door sedan and hardtop. Sales nearly doubled to 84,420 units, and Motor Trend chose the Hemi-powered Road Runner to receive its Car of the Year honors, pointing to its bargain-basement price and astounding acceleration times.
Auctioneers Robert Suttles and Jonathan Simpson, of Dealer Auctions, in Denver, N.C., will offer more than 200 domestic and foreign collector cars on Friday and Saturday of the Food Lion AutoFair. American products are represented by such high-performers as a stealthy black 1972 Chevrolet Camaro Z28, 1965 Chrysler 300, 1969 Ford Mustang with 428-cid V-8 and 1971 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 with W-30 package. Mouth-watering imports include a pair of arrest-me-red Ferraris, a 1985 308 GTS and 1990 Testarossa, and a 1986 Rolls-Royce Silver Spur.
Many vintage Corvettes have been pre-registered for the sale, including a yellow 1967 roadster with 427-cid V-8, black 1967 coupe, and a 1963 roadster with removable hardtop. Some cars have no reserve placed on them, meaning the owner has agreed to sell to the highest bidder, no matter how low the price. A Sublime Green 1970 Plymouth Superbird, such as Richard Petty drove to 18 NASCAR Grand National victories in 1970, and a 1986 Porsche 911 Carrera are on the no-reserve list. Dealer Auctions plans to begin selling the no-reserve cars at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
The Fall Speedway Collector Car Auction, which takes place on the speedway's concourse, is open to the public and starts Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m. Bidders and consignors must either register through the Dealer Auctions website (www.dlrauctions.com) or in person at the event. All registered buyers and sellers will be entered to win a diesel-powered Ford school bus. The drawing will be held at the end of the auction on Saturday; the holder of the winning ticket must be present to claim the prize.
Food Lion AutoFair
Hours for the Aug. 26-29 Food Lion AutoFair are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. Ticket prices are $10 for adults; children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Parking for the event is $5. For more information on the four-day event, contact the speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.