The 1,300hp Smog-Era Sleeper

By the time 1974 rolled around, the original era of the American muscle car was just about over. Thanks to the gas crunch, stricter emissions regulations and rising insurance costs, the once great muscle cars had either disappeared or turned into shells of their former selves.

While these mid-1970s cars aren’t too high on the lists of most collectors, they can make for great build platforms. And as evidence I present this 1974 Plymouth Road Runner known as Skunk Works, built by Lucky 7 Speed Shop of Sutter Creek, California.

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Although it might be a muscle car rather than a hot rod or custom, it was one of my favorite cars at this year’s Sacramento Autorama.

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It’s an interesting build in the fact that it’s far from a factory restoration, but also much more original (in appearance at least) than your typical flashy pro touring build. I guess you could call it a muscle car sleeper.

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From the outside the Plymouth looks very original, with everything from the stock bumper guards to the factory ‘Road Runner’ striping intact over a subtle gunmetal gray paint job.

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At first glance the wheels and tires look standard too, until you realize these are actually modern-sized versions of the original Mopar rallye wheels. The tires are wide Nitto Invos, and tucked in behind the package are Wilwood disc brakes.

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The cockpit of the Plymouth also appears stock at first glance. At least until you notice things like the Redline gauges and the aftermarket shifter that’s mounted in the original center console.

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But then you look under the hood and realize this thing is just a bit more potent than your average factory-spec ’74 Road Runner. That’s a fuel injected Hemi displacing the same 426 cubic inches as the original street Hemi; but it’s just the beginning.

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There’s also a pair of 62mm Turbonetics turbochargers which boost the Hemi to a ridiculous 1,300 horsepower, or something like five times the power output of the car’s original engine.

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Hats off to Lucky 7 Speed Shop for not only showing some love to an under-appreciated Mopar platform, but for also building one of the coolest muscle car sleepers I’ve seen in a long time.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia_media



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Very underwhelming article for such a deserving car. Shame!


I like how mid 70's muscle cars are finally starting to get some love from builders and enthusiasts.  Sure, they're not the most popular but modern hp and a few cosmetic touches go a long way.  And you can buy them cheap ;)


cjm420 How is this an underwhelming article?


Really, one shot of the interior and no mention of the suspension or transmission at all. Obviously one of Mikes best articles for one of his favorite cars.


cjm420 I hear what you're saying about the spec/tech mentions, but I mean, it's clear that the writer didn't have any special access to the vehicle. He had to do his work just like everyone else: from behind the barrier..


Ok, I see where your coming from. I'm just used to the full breakdown style car spotlights speedhunters normally posts.




cjm420 Hey, we're on the same boat. I want to see a better breakdown of the car, too. These examples get no love on the build scene. 
Perhaps a full review on this vehicle can break some of that stigma associated with the dreaded "malaise era".


Isn't this just a grand touring car? Old car modded for modern use?


Lovely car, but sleeper this is not!


71-72 Roadrunners have always been one of my favorite muscle cars. It's ashamed that that bodystyle along with this one get little to no attention. This beautiful car is a step in the right direction, I hope others take notice.


I love '71-'72s, but it's even rarer to see people building the later versions like this one.


If this thing pulled up next to you at a light would you suspect it 1,300 horsepower? Even 500 horsepower? Seems like a sleeper to me.


I'd say so.


This is pretty standard fare for an event car spotlight I think?


More stuff like this Mike!  Not enough "ugly" Mopar love on here.


Who makes those wheels?


Always good to see something different get some love. Didn't Daisy Duke have one of these?


Mike Garrett most people would think think "man this guy spent a lot of money restomodding his car, he's probably packing quite a few horsepowers under the bonnet as well"


No clamps on charge piping, no rad overflow tube, heater hoses not hooked up...

Hopefully the drum brakes with no booster are addressed if that engine ever does run in this car!


yotafan I don't know if you actually read the article or not, but...
"The tires are wide Nitto Invos, and tucked in behind the package are Wilwood disc brakes."
Also, there is something called a "shaved engine bay." Do you really think this has no alternator, either?


yotafan Look @ the brake booster. See that big Wildwood emblem on it? Now go Google "Wildwood Hydroboost." 

Also, you have bigass turbos/manifolds where the heater hoses are usually. If it has heater hoses, they would necessitate reroutal. Rubber hoses on top of exhaust manifolds=bad day driving.

I just commented on a pretty old article just to try and educate you.


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