BEAK PERFORMANCE – Mopar Action Article Extra

 

The way it was supposed to work, was that the Rapid Transit System Caravan—a traveling car show that set up at Chrysler-Plymouth dealers across the country—would boost Plymouth sales to young people. The idea, according to the brain trusts at the former Chrysler Corp., was that most kids wanted to customize their cars, make them more individualized (you know, Joe Blow from Kokomo wanted his 70 Road Runner to look different from yada, yada).

So, working on the above premise, Chrysler hired Bob Larivee, honcho over at the International Show Car Assoc. to oversee the project. Chrysler gave him four Plymouths to customize: a ’70 ‘Cuda, a Duster, a replica of Don Prudhomme’s funny car and a loaded ’70 Hemi Road Runner. Of course, the factory had to approve any design before any lead was melted, or paint gun filled. Larivee was a good choice, connected as he was to some of the best custom shops on the planet. He called in Roman’s Chariot Shop, the Alexander Brothers, Chuck Miller (touted to be the “greatest painter of all time), and Syntetex Corp. This last outfit already had two major Chrysler factory show cars to their credit, both Dodges: the Supercharger and the (pre-Diamante) Yellow Jacket. Larivee worked with Chrysler designers and his cadre of radical customizers to finalize the concepts. Then, he let the Sawzall guys loose.

The modified beeper (details in the print article) along with the other show cars in the Caravan were sent to dealers across the country. After 1970, the cars were mothballed. The Road runner was purchased by a Detroit Lions football celebrity who wanted to make a race car out of it. A divorce and being cut from the team ended those plans, and the car languished at the race car shop where it was eventually bought by a mechanic who worked there.

Noted collector, Steve Juliano began a quest to find and reunite all the cars in the RTS Caravan, and he eventually bought and restored the Road Runner. The 1,700-mile Hemicar now resides along with two other RTS cars in his collection of special vehicles and memorabilia.


1970 Rapid Transit System Road Runner was the 2nd Hemi beeper produced for that model year. Original bird emblem on grille was snagged while the car was on display at one of the dealerships. Juliano made this one—an exact copy—himself, but would pay handsomely for the original.


The bird is restored in all its original glory. When Juliano found the car most of the paint had been sanded off as the owner was going to take it back to a stock Road Runner. The wing, which had been separated from the car was untouched and showed the original colors which were matched perfectly. The huge bird and dust rail are hand painted.


Taillight lenses were made from scratch out of Lucite.


Note details of the untouched Air Grabber assembly. On display, the trap door was held up by a rod.


Restored 1,700-mile engine compartment. Juliano used the best of his factory assembly line “lunch pail” parts to show how this car looked at the end of the assembly line. An early production car, the ’70 Hemi came through with ’69 valve covers.


Factory press photo of the beeper shows the car sans mirrors. The factory didn’t want to encourage Road runner owners removing their mirrors in order to mimic the show car, so they added mirrors to the show car before it went on display.


Chrysler-Plymouth Division manager, Glen While (left) receives Motor Trend’s Car of the Year Award from MT publisher, Ray Brock. Note oven-stuffer-size bird decal on the door. These could be ordered by anyone from their local Plymouth dealer.


The RTS Road Runner on display with the rest of the Caravan in indoor and outdoor dealership displays.


The RTS beeper on display at Connecticut-based Davita Motor Sales. The sales manager is shown standing on one of the rare 20-ft. rollout checkerboard mats or runners with the RTS logo in the center. The sales manager rolled up the mats for his private “collection” after the show. He eventually sold them to Steve Juliano. The sales manager said that the Caravan did nothing to boost sales, they just made the stockers seem dull and boring by comparison.


Have vacuum will travel. Steve Juliano does some housecleaning in the warehouse where he stores his collection of special cars and his huge assemblage of memorabilia. He’s available for outside housecleaning jobs, but he doesn’t do windows.

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