Reg Kelley's 1970 Road Runner Build


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Last Updated: July 14, 2015

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Route 66 Mopar Club member, Reg Kelley, located this 1970 Plymouth Road Runner
convertible in Southern California
and brought the muscle car to his shop in Shelby Township, Michigan. His vision was to transform this car into a black exterior, black convertible top with an air-grabber hood, and a B5 blue interior to match the original. Under the hood, a 528 Stroker Hemi engine utilizing a Mopar block linked to a five-speed Tremec transmission...and to have the car ready for the "Mopars in the Park" car show near Minneapolis on May 30, 2015.

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The car had to come apart. Every nut, bolt, screw, washer, trim piece and more was
completely taken off. All drivetrain, suspension parts, the interior, bumpers, doors, and
glass removed. All total, the disassembly took three weeks and 120 man hours.
Everything went into its own storage bag, with a tag describing the contents, also a
digital photo was taken of each part before and after it was removed.

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Before the 1970 Plymouth Road Runner convertible is sent out for media blasting, a necessary step is to cut away damaged sheet metal panels including the trunk pan, trunk extensions, wheel wells, rear quarter panels and rear frameheader.

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More than 40 miscellaneous sheet metal pieces, including door hinges, bumper braces, the hood, trunk and doors, accompanied the body shell for media blasting.
Metal replacement was next. For the trunk pan and rear panels, Reg ordered restoration stamping parts from his local Chrysler Group LLC dealer in Roseville, Michigan. New panels were fitted into the assembly and plug welded into location. Panel joints were then seam sealed with a two-part compound, hand-brushed the material into the seams and joints to waterproof them.

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At this point, the front frame rails and rear bumper brackets are exposed, allowing the
doors and fenders to be hung. Everything needs to be flush, sometimes you have to
bend this or that and
use shims. Hanging the doors is a difficult task because of
movement and height. Major body repair or welding requires sand and blocking before
priming. Reg generally uses 80-grit sanding wheels, followed by an application of a hardener called AllMetal. The next step is blocking and the use of high-build polyester primer. Then an about three gallons of fine creamy filler is applied with about two gallons of that being sanded off.

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During the last phases of prep for paint, a dark, almost black graphite powder is applied on the light gray primer. This makes the smallest imperfections visible. With the panels all fitted and flush, everything is taken back off the car to prepare for paint work.

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The dismantled Plymouth received three coats of PPG Single Stage Deep Gloss Black paint, which took three weeks with wet sanding, using 400 grit on the initial layer, second layer using a finer 1200 grit, and after the third layer 2500 grit before final buffing. On the suspension, rather than keep the leaf springs of the original Road Runner, Reg has chosen a triangulated four-bar link, coilover-shock suspension system that improves both the launch and ride of the car. The suspension system is aligned and welded tabs onto the housing of a Dana 60 rear end.

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Engine build is a new Mopar Gen II 426 HEMI combined with additional rotating
assembly parts to create a 472-cubic-inch Stroker HEMI engine from scratch. A Major
concern is dialing in the proper compression ratio, a challenging task that normally
requires calculating 11 different precision measurements. But Reg has special
instrument used in a major motorsport series to quickly and easily measure the engine
compression by simply inserting a device into a single park plug hole.

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TDC timing mark verified to the #1 cylinder. Oil pressure and flow to the roller rocker
gear verified. Ready to install the intake, 6 PAC, distributor, and exhuast manifolds.
Should be on the engine dyno next week (March 23, 2015).

tn 00015 Work has started on the Road Runner's interior!
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The 472-cubic-inch Stroker HEMI engine all bolted in the dyno and electronics connected. Just need exhausted tubes installed and some fuel added. Local HEMI Tuner, Dave Dudek, will light it up and tune Wednesday (March 25, 1025). Hoping so see 625 horsepower at 5,000 rpm.

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~The 472 6-PAC Specs~
*3-Duce Holly's @ 500 CFM each for 1,500 CFM Total
*Mechanical Accelerator Pumps on all three carbs w/ progressive linkage
*Open Plenum Indy Mod Man Intake
*Stage V Aluminum Heads, CNC Bowl Ported, Indy Roller Rocker Gear
*Trend 7/16" Dia Body Chromoly Push Rods
*Engle Cam with Solid Lifters set 109 Degree Centerline
*Compression came in at 10.6:1
*Gen II HEMI Block with stock 4.25" Stroke - Internally Balanced
*Eagle H Beam 7.100" Rods w/ 0.990" Wrist Pins
*Ross Pistons w/ Seal Pro Rings gapped at 0.018" Top and 0.016" Bottom
*Custom SS Tube Headers simulating stock cast iron version, SS spray weld and ceramic coated
 !=> Dyno Test Delayed due to local power outage - rescheduled March 26, 2015 @ 9 a.m.


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Dyno Day!! Reg did have trouble with the distributor drive gear and shaft assembly loading it into the block during the engine assembly, but thought it had enough running clearance to break in...After about 20-30 seconds of running and sounding good, they lost the distributor drive shaft bronze gear! Believes the cam shaft drive gear to be over spec dimension, due to the tight condition the gear heated up to its near melting point, locked up, and sheared its teeth. Motor has to be 100% disassembled in order to clean all of the metal chips out of the oil galleys and etc. Ordered a different Bullet Cam and Lifters, but will be 10 working days before delivery. Reg will focus on other areas of the build until parts arrive, then back to the dyno.

tn 00020 The 472 Hemi is going back together with new parts. Hope to be back on the Dyno this weekend (April 18, 2015).
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The Hemi is all buttoned up and ready to go back to the Dyno. Plan to run Monday or Tuesday (April 20 or 21, 2015) morning. Distributor drive gear loaded like it should this time, motor seems happy :) Went back together very easy.


!=> Dyno Test rescheduled for Sunday, April 26, 2015.


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How appropriate that on HEMI Day (4/26) it was Dyno Day 2!  The numbers are in and it did not break! First run was a disappointing 537 hp @ 6200 rpm and 516 ft lbs of torque @ 4600 rpm. Three more runs after fuel mixture and timing adjustments produced little improvement.

Pulled the value covers to check solid lifter value lash. Apparently the Trend Push Rods did not have the optimum seating with the lifters and roller rocker gear at initial assembly. We had it set at 0.020" when building. After four runs we found the rocker clearance had increased to as much as 0.050". Reset the valve lash to 0.018"with the engine hot. Next run produced a very satisfying 629 hp @ 6300 rpm and 538 ft lbs of torque @ 5400 rpm.

Last run after reducing the timing to 32 degrees and installing milder cams on the secondary carb accelerator pumps to reduce stumble at launch produced 638 hp @ 6500 rpm and 546 ft lbs of torque @ 5000 rpm. That improved the performance of the motor by 101 hp with the various adjustments of the fuel jets, valve lash, and ignition timing on the Dyno.

Air to the fuel mix was still a bit lean. HEMI tuner, Dave Dudak, and MOPAR Kevin both agreed that final dial in of air to fuel mixture with one more jet size increase in front and rear carbs will push the 472 Stroker HEMI past the 650 hp mark. That should be good enough for this MOPAR build!

tn 00023 Installed the windshield and about 75% of the convertible top.
tn 00024 Finished painting and assembled the front suspension/K-member.
tn 00025 Installed the flywheel, clutch, bell housing and transmission. Then trimmed out the 472 with accessories like power steering pump, alternator, starter, and etc.
tn 00027 Raised the front end of the Road Runner, rolled the engine/transmission/suspension assmebly under and lowered the body over it. Bolted transmission cross member in place. Will wrap up the front suspension and have it back on four wheels again. 26 Days until Mopars in the Park car show.
Abort Button Last evening after successfully installing the Hemi and transmission in the Road Runner, had green lights for all systems except...the ability to shift gears in the TKO600 trans. The only gear that will enage is first. All others are a no go. Pulled the transmission and Mopar Kevin is taking it to a qualified repair shop this week. With this event Reg has aborted plans to be at Mopars in the Park car show.  Check back as the build continues!
tn 00030 As you all know the Road Runner did not make the Mopars in the Park at Farmington, Minnesota on May 30, 2015 due to a defective transmission that was discovered too late in the build. It has since been repaired and will be installed this weekend. Will take the car for exhaust install early next week. Now focusing on getting the car ready to debut at Chrysler Nationals in Carlisle, PA on July 10-12. Almost 4 weeks to go Reg expects to have all the detailing completed.
tn 00031 The Road Runner was loaded last night at midnight for her trip to the SS Exhaust shop this morning. Picking her up tomorrow (July 3, 2015) late afternoon for a lot of detailing this weekend. Then a front end alignment Tuesday morning.  The transmission issues are cleared up with a lot of help from MOPAR Kevin. Next Wednesday headed for the Chrysler Nationals in Carlisle, PA (July 10-12, 2015).
tn 00032 Exhaust Installed!
tn 00034 Loaded the Road Runner up this morning for at trip to the front end alignment shop. After 23 months of effort and a lot of help from many MOPAR buddies and friends, it can again be driven under it's own power! MOPAR Kevin and his buddy Jerry Tomla came over last evening and we punched out a substantial list of final items. Did the initial tune on the 472 and it sounds great with the Borela Mufflers! Has a nice thumpty-thump at 950 rpm. Finished at 1:00 am. Still need to finish up the console and do some paint buffing this evening before loading up for the pull to Carlisle, PA.
tn 00035 Rolled out of Michigan last Wednesday afternoon and pulled into Bedford, PA leaving about an hour drive to Carlisle. The weather Friday, Saturday, and Sunday was the best I have experienced at the Chrysler Nationals in the past 6 years. Low 80's and clear.
tn 00036 Setup Friday in the show field. The Road Runner was received quite well. Most consistent comment from the guys that knew what they were talking about was the quality of the Gap and Flush condition of the body joints. Met with the JR Thompson Advertising Agency team on Saturday and Sunday mornings for a photo shoot and videos, as they complete their "Behind the Build " 20+ month series for "MOPAR THE MAGAZINE".

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Checking the results of the judging Sunday morning, I was quite surprised with a 1st Place plaque in the 1968 to 1970 B-Body Modified Class with 26 entries. Had a few things that we did not have time to finish. Those included windshield wipers, carpet on the side of the console, and rubber seal for the Air Grabber box. I believe that the exceptional Gap and Flush condition had a lot to do with the judging results. Super smooth black paint and popping blue interior did not hurt either.

The Road Runner was purchased in August of 2013. Teardown began in November of 2013, so about 19 months total time for the build. Some final tweaking and tuning is still needed to be call it a 20 month project, start to finish.


         Thank You!!

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Wyle E Coyote CutOut

*Mopar Kevin (Kevin Haranczak) and Jerry Tromala who helped with the 6-Pack tuning as well as various last minute electrical and mechanical debugging activities. Without their help, efforts, and talents we would not have made it to Carlisle!

*S & S Stripping provided the media blasting and powder coating.

*Neighbor and friend Alan Parak with North Side Customs provided the body repair and paint. He and I worked together from January 2014 until February 2015 doing all of the body and paint.

*MCB Performance in Capac, MI was the major resource for trim pieces and interior bright work items.

*Modern Cylinder Head for head work and engine dyno services.

*D & S Machine, Clawson, MI for engine machining and balancing services.

*Legendary Interiors for interior and the convertible top.

 - Reg Kelley

Plymouth Heart 150CutOut RoadRunner 500x150CutOut