GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

1971 Plymouth Roadrunner

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SPEX
Year: 1971
Class: Muscle Car
Type: 2-door hardtop
 
Country: USA `````````````````````````````````` Host: GT2
 
Price: $45,400

 
Length: 205.9" // Width: 79" // Height: 52.2"
Wheelbase: 115"
Track: 60.1" [F] 62" [R]
Ground Clearance: 6.29"
Weight: 3,639 pounds
Tires: ?
F. Suspension: Wishbones / Torsion Bars
R. Suspension: Live Axle / Leaf Springs?
Brakes: Drums front & rear
 
Engine: 426 cubic-inch OHV V8
Aspiration: Normal
Fuel System: ?
Valves per Cylinder: 2
Bore x Stroke: ?
Compression Ratio: ?
Redline: 6,600 // RPM Limit: 7,000
 
Horsepower: 429 @ 5,000 rpm
Torque:         490 @ 3,000 rpm

 
Pounds per HP: 8.48 // HP per Liter: 61.46
Credit per HP: $105.82
 
Layout: Front Engine / Rear Drive
Transmission: 4-Speed Manual
 
0-60 mph: 5.1 seconds
0-100 mph: 12.26 seconds
 
¼ Mile: 13.710 @ 107 mph
1 KM: 25.573 @ 126 mph

 
Test Track Time: 1:53.872
 
Top Speed
1st: 55 mph @ 6,600 rpm
2nd: 74 mph
3rd: 97 mph
4th: 137.12 mph @ 7,000 rpm

 

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-----------------EXTERIOR / HISTORY------------------------:
 
Let's start this review off by dispelling Gran Turismo Error #439. There IS no such thing as the Plymouth Muscle Car. Thank you.
 
Nowadays, Dodge is the division of Chrysler that gets to have most of the fun, but back in the Golden Age, Plymouth was just as commited to making fast cars, and they began by taking their all-new Roadrunner back to its roots: lots of speed for a low, low price. In 1968, the muscle car genre was now unofficially in its 4th year of life. These cars had become increasingly more expensive, and Plymouth did an incredibly smart thing by making the Roadrunner affordable again without sacrificing speed. They paid Warner Brothers $50,000 to have the right to affix a decal of the cartoon roadrunner bird to their early cars, but in this first year of production, the decals weren't in color yet! Also included in the package was a horn that went “beep beep” just like the cartoon.
 
During its first year (1968), there were very few options available: the car came standard with a bench seat up front, and did not even include carpeting on the floor. Instead, the basic Roadrunner came with cheap rubber floormats. It was based on the Plymouth Belvedere, but had a beefed-up transmission, brakes, and tires. All of this could be had for just $2,896 at a time when many '60s-era muscle cars were passing the $4,000 mark. It is important to note that besides the 383 cubic-inch engine, there was just one other option: the 426 MOPAR hemi, which could be had for an extra $714.
 
Originally, Plymouth planned on selling just 2,500 Roadrunners, but throughout the year the car sold wildly: a total of about 45,000 copies were produced! In 1969, this sales figure almost doubled, as more options were added and buyer demand increased. The Roadrunner also won Motor Trend's Car of the Year award in this year, but in 1970 (oddly) there was a drop in sales: 41,484 cars as opposed to 82,109 the year before. This was a bit disappointing for Plymouth, but not nearly as disappointing as the next year: in 1971, just 14,218 Roadrunners were made, and out of these, only 55 of them were bought with Hemi engines!
 
There are a couple theories for why the Roadrunner saw its decline: #1. the government was very keen on tightening emissions on these large-engine autos, and #2. the new 2nd-generation Roadrunner was frickin' ugly!!!. The only detail of merit in 1971 was that the Hemi somehow survived unscathed for just one more year, and it still had 425 horsepower just like it did in its first year of Roadrunner production. It was dropped in 1972.
 
Gran Turismo chose this hippopatamus of a car possibly because despite its appearance, it happens to be the most distinctive-looking Roadrunner. Earlier models look alot like GTXs. It is also rather pricey at over $45,000, which reflects the reality that very few Hemi-powered '71 Roadrunners were made, and therefore even fewer survived in 1999 when GT2 was released. The bluebook value obviously went up astronomically.
 
It goes without saying that to get this car to do anything on the racetracks (other than slide around) it is imperitive that the weight gets reduced. All three steps! There you go: now we've got it down to 3,238 pounds, which seems a lot. But actually, I recently raced a Roadrunner at Grindelwäld using the Arcade disc on the professional setting, and despite the size and weight, I was still able to keep ahead of the relentless Cobra Coupe, which is supposedly much more of a race car. So there you have it.
 
---------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN----------------
 
Has anyone seen that annoying commercial with the little kid being hoisted on his father's shoulders? And then the dad says: “Son, can you say Hemi?”...and the kid actually has to say it. Well, for your info, the Hemi has actually been around since the early '60s. It is a race engine, and it hasn't been used since the early '70s by Dodge or Plymouth until recently. Now, they're installing them once again in some of their trucks, even though gas prices are over two bucks a gallon in many parts of America. Go figure.
 
Ah, but we don't have to worry about gas prices in Gran Turismo! All we have to worry about is speed--and getting thru corners so we can employ MORE speed. The 426 cubic-inch Hemi V8 has plenty of that. At first, you'll only be able to use it in straight-line acceleration. Just about every other part of the unmodified car (the brakes, the tires, the suspension, etc.) pretty much sucks, but you CAN count on that 429 hp engine. Interestingly, one of the muscle car websites I got some info on this car quoted that the Hemi Roadrunner gets to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, and does the ¼ mile in 13.490 @ 105 mph. In my Gran Turismo test, I got 5.1 seconds and 13.710 @ 107! That's why I love this game.
 
The motor smokes & tokes, obviously. Power-to-weight ratio starts off at just 8.48, and falls to just 5.50 with full weight reductions + full stage 3 tuning of 588 hp. At 105 credits per horse, this car also has one of the best credit-to-power ratios one can buy for a '60s-era American musclecar, in any GT game.
 
The 4-speed transmission can be upgraded to a 5-speed with any of MOPAR's three tranny options, though the close and super-close boxes are useless during races. They would be great to use if PD actually finished making that drag strip. If you get a Roadrunner, make sure to equip it with racing exhaust and air-filter, or just leave the car's exhuast stock. The reason is: this car's engine sounds really blasé if you've installed either sports or semi-racing equipment. For some reason, you can't hear the pistons anymore. Strange. Unrealistic.
 
The torque / power curve is interesting. When the accelerator is floored in 1st gear, the needle will shoot straight to the redline...and won't go any further. This is maximum power folks. You will have no fear of hitting the rev limiter, and you can count on this even after you've upgraded the Roadrunner with full power and super-soft slick tires. This behavior continues throughout the modified life of the car: once the engine has passed its peak horsepower, (somewhere between 5,000 and 5,500 rpms, depending on the level of modification) it will struggle to gain speed, so it's therefore a totally fantastic idea to get the racing gearbox and dial it so you're continually using those mid-range revs between 3,000 and 6,000 rpms. If you let the car redline during races, your lap times will suffer, trust me. Auto tranny is therefore a bad idea. Bad bad idea.
 
 
----------------CHASSIS / HANDLING---------------
 
Motorboats are fun. Motorboats that happen to have four wheels are questionable...most folks would say not very fun, especially during races. The underparts of this car certainly didn't have a ‘Hemi’ brand equivalent trademark associated with them, as the Roadrunner car constantly totters around like a see-saw. Remember that in 1971, Plymouth switched the Roadrunner from the proven and somewhat handsome Belvedere platform / bodywork to the bloated, ugly Satellite. Who knows why? All we know is that the car is frickin' heavy, and handles tactlessly.
 
The quest here is obvious: get a better suspension, preferably a semi-racing or full-racing set up. Usually, dampers can be set in the 5 to 7 range while springs rates are stiffened to counter-act all that weight And don't forget to buy a limited-slip differential to keep the car manueverable just the way you like it.

Like I said before: I was able to win a couple Professional races in this car. Driving to the max. At Grindelwäld. I ditched the Cobra. You can too. 
 


 

PROS
 
1). Hemi engine kicks a lot of butt. Lots of straight-line performance. Out-of-corner speed is marvelous, too, provided you're good with LSD settings and throttle control.
 
2). This engine will not over-rev, even when mashing the go-joystick (or X button, or whatever you use) from a standing start. The 'Muscle Car' will not lose speed from that limiter under hard acceleration. This car's tires apparently are made to handle the high torque and speed of the engine during straight-line runs, and provide just enough grip (yet also enough slip & tire smoke).
 
3). Good power-to-weight ratio. Nice, low credit-to-power ratio, too.
 
4). The engine sounds great in the game with either racing aspiration or stock parts.
 
5). Um...the engine. It's all about the engine.
 
 
CONS
 
1). Weight weight weight. No racing kit to demolish this dilemma to its furthest.
 
2). Fully modified with racing suspension parts, tires, and brakes, the Roadunner still lumbers into corners. 
 
3). Careful throttle control is needed to limit quirky rear-end behavior as well as spinning out of corners.
 
4). Transmission will limit speed. Get a racing gearbox.
 
5). I'm going to say (and many would agree) that this car is uglier than...well... many many other ugly cars. It makes the Edsel look like a beauty queen.
 
6). A 79" wide car with over 6" of ground clearance does not an easy race make. Not to mention that it's also over 17 feet long!
 
7). The car's engine sounds about as exciting as a wheezy vaccuum cleaner with either sports or semi-racing parts installed.
 
8). Those who aren't Mopar fans may question why this car costs what it costs.
 

Originally Published: August 9, 2004
 

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