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Plymouth Power: The Best Performance Cars of Mopar’s Forgotten Brand

Vukasin Herbez February 1, 2024

1971 Plymouth Duster 340 Main
Photo Credit: Sports Car Market

Plymouth Duster 340 (1970)

As an economy brand, Plymouth was very active and successful at the lower end of the market since the early ’60s and the Valiant model. By the late ’60s and early ’70s, the compact market had grown, and Plymouth introduced the Duster 340. This model was a junior muscle car since it looked like bigger competitors but it had a more petite 340 hp engine rated at 275 hp (via Hemmings).

002 1971 Plymouth Duster Right Rear 1
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

Plymouth never anticipated the success that the Duster 340 achieved and production doubled in just a few months. Despite being a compact model, the 340 was a very good muscle car. Its 275 hp moved the light body to respectable 0 to 60 mph times of just over six seconds. The vehicle may be half the size of some of the heavy hitters of the era but was almost as fast. Also, it cost just under $3000, which was highly affordable. Interestingly, after the original muscle car era ended in 1974, Plymouth continued to offer the Duster 340 but with the 360 engine option and less power due to rising emissions standards.

Plymouth Fury Gt Ccced
Photo Credit: Car Domain

Plymouth Fury GT (1970)

Despite being an economy brand in Chrysler Corporation, Plymouth had a surprisingly large number of muscle cars during the ’60s and ’70s, as well as numerous unique versions. Their luxury muscle car was the GTX. But in 1970, the Fury GT debuted as the most significant model. The Fury GT was a two-door coupe version of the Fury sedan, and in GT guise, it was a full-size muscle car with the perfect combination of looks and power (via Hagerty).

Plymouth Sport Fury Gt Hardtop Coupe
Photo Credit: Mopar

Under the hood was a well-known 440 V8 with a three-carburetor setup and 375 hp on tap. Buyers could choose between the 727 Torqueflite automatic and a four-speed manual. They preferred the manual if they wanted any actual performance. However, despite the power and looks, the Fury GT was a small performer since it was still heavy. In combination with a relatively high price tag, it proved to be a slow seller. After only one year in production, Plymouth discontinued the GT model.

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

Plymouth Volare Roadrunner (1976 to 1980)

Back in 1976, Plymouth introduced the Volare, a successful mid-size model produced in many variants and exported worldwide. It was the twin to the Dodge Aspen. The Volare featured rear-wheel drive, a wide range of engines, and a sleek design. Both Dodge and Plymouth had successful muscle models in the past and the heritage was still solid when the Volare was introduced. This was a perfect platform for a muscle car if it weren’t for grueling emissions and safety regulations that killed the performance. But Plymouth tried and presented the Volare Road Runner, which featured a 316 V8 engine and a measly 160 horsepower (via Motor Trend).

Plymouth Volare
Photo Credit: Car and Driver

What it lacked in the performance department, Volare Road Runner compensated in looks. It had a complete body kit with rear window louvers, a spoiler, a graphics package, and sport wheels. Some versions even featured a T-top roof, which was an excellent choice back in the day. Later, Plymouth introduced the 360 V8 with 175 to 196 hp, which improved the performance but was still slow. Production ended in 1980 after four years on the market. Today, it’s a collector’s car since it has an interesting history, despite the fact it was regarded as a disgrace by classic muscle car fans. They thought that the Road Runner name should go on a better-performing machine. Also, all Volares had rust issues, so the number of surviving cars in good condition is low.

1975 Plymouth Road Runner Rear (9564783414)
Photo Credit: Pinterest

Plymouth Fury Roadrunner (1975)

We all know the Plymouth Roadrunner as one of the quintessential classic muscle cars and a model that always had performance and power. However, in 1975, Plymouth moved the Roadrunner as an option on the Fury line (via Hemmings).

Plymouth Road Runner 83
Photo Credit: Mopar

The Fury Roadrunner had a 440 V8 option with 260 hp on paper. Despite this being a respectable number for the day’s standards, 0 to 60 mph times were over eight seconds, which is something that today’s cheapest economy cars can match. As a result, sales could have been better.

Plymouth Prowler
Photo Credit: Auto WP

Plymouth Prowler (1997)

The Hot Rod culture is one of the critical ingredients of the American automotive landscape. However, no company dared to present a factory-built Hot Rod until 1997 when Plymouth presented the Prowler – a retro-futuristic roadster with a V6 engine and fantastic looks (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: Motor 1

Imagined as the follow-up of the Viper, the Prowler was the hit on the show circuit, and Chrysler wanted to capitalize on that. Despite having initial success, the car proved to be a failure.

34qdfsx Scaled
Photo Credit: Pinterest

Plymouth Neon ACR (1996)

Most auto fans know about the excellent, turbocharged Neon SRT4 from the early 2000s. But that car wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the fantastic and forgotten Neon ACR produced for just two years in 1996 and 1997. Back in the ’90s, the Neon was one of the best compact cars America grew, and Dodge’s engineers realized that the chassis had the potential to be something more than just a grocery-getter (via The Autopian).

Photo Credit: Road and Track

The Neon ACR was a race-prepared Neon with a cam engine, four-wheel disc brakes, a different speedometer, stiffer suspension, and radio delete. The name ACR was derived from American Club Racer, and soon, the Neon ACR was the favorite car of amateur racers on track weekends.

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