In 1973 Plymouth released a car that many people still call a muscle car even though it had been far from a muscle car in comparison to other cars that Plymouth had released in the past. The car we are talking about is the 73 RoadRunner. The 1973 RoadRunner was another muscle car that was a victim of political and economic developments that took place in the 1970s. The primary development was the oil crisis that hit the world and forced car manufacturers to scale down engine power and make the cars more fuel friendly. Another development that primarily hit people who owned or wanted to own muscle cars was the increase in insurance premiums. This was due to a muscle car surcharge that was added to the base premium in order to compensate for the increased risk that muscle cars brought for the insurance companies. These were the main changes that hurt the sales of virtually all muscle cars available on the market and more importantly forced many manufacturers to start changing the image of their cars. This was also what happened to the 1973 RoadRunner.
The design of the 1973 RoadRunner was changed to a large portion. It received new sheet metal and a new front and rear that were closer to a squared-up styling. This restyling along with changes to the engines, which were more constructed to be more fuel efficient and not as performance oriented, increased sales of the 73 RoadRunner by 40% in comparison to the 1972 model. The largest engine available for the 1973 Plymouth RoadRunner was a 318 CID V-8 with 170 hp that barely topped 120mph as top speed. No larger engines were produced after 1972. The available transmissions were still the same as before with the 3-speed TorqueFlite Automatic being the top transmission available.
The above mentioned lead many experts and muscle car enthusiasts to call the 1973 RoadRunner a car that had stepped away from its image as a muscle car. This was partially true, as one has to consider that the manufacturer needed to scale down engines to meet emission standards and the fact that no one was willing to buy a very strong car due to the high costs associated with such a vehicle. This forced Plymouth, or Chrysler, to re-think the idea behind the RoadRunner and adjust it accordingly. The car shouldn’t be viewed as a weak muscle car but rather scaled down muscle car.