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by Darren Beale July 14, 2020 3 min read

RALPH BELL discovered this Plymouth Roadrunner, pistol grip 4-speed car sitting in a barn just after he moved to Oklahoma in 1980. The car had a spun rod bearing and was last registered in ’78. Ralph couldn’t pry it away from its owner who planned to rebuild it as a project with his stepson.

 

Fast forward nearly 20 years and with a re-ignited passion for anything Mopar Ralph decided to contact the guy again. As it turned out he had passed away in his sleep and the car remained with his stepson untouched. Ralph soon connected up and eventually walked away with the car, dragged it home and promptly hid it on his property from his wife for over a year.

 

Project Tetanus: Wrenching in the Early Days

Ralph was first influenced by cars at 12 when his brother had a ’68 Plymouth Roadrunner. Despite his brother wrecking it on his last day of school Ralph had fallen for the cool looks and powerful engines of muscle cars – especially E-Body Mopars. At 16, and after some tricky negotiating (begging), Ralph purchased a Dodge Challenger, actually a ’70 RT with a 383 for $500 (Yes. Five-hundred dollars). Most memorable to Ralph was the anxiety of sitting at traffic lights with his eyes fixed on the oil-pressure and fuel gages. “Man did that car eat oil and gas” is his most distinct memory, so avoiding further trauma he parted with the car for $150 to a Michigan buyer a few years later.

Five years ago, Ralph bought a 68 Coronet with 440 wedge in it and swapped out the engine into the Roadrunner.

 

TETANUS and Project Tetanus ’69 Roadrunner was born – you have to agree after looking at this car that it is a cool name. He sold the Coronet, and “drove the crap out of the Roadrunner”, which has never had a backseat while he has owned it. Just a couple of years ago he traded the 440 wedge engine for a HEMI (plus some extra cash) and the brand X HEMI block quickly failed, splitting down the middle.

 

View the Project Tetanus ’69 Plymouth Road Runner PHOTO GALLERY HERE.

Needing a strong platform that would handle anything he could throw at it he purchased the new Keith Black HEMI block through legendary engine builder, racer and Keith Black engine Dealer Ray Barton Racing Engines, and had it shipped to Paul Pitzonka at Performance by Paul in Buffalo NY, who built the engine:

Project Tetanus: Ralph Bell's 69 HEMI Roadrunner

 

Project Tetanus: Ralph Bell's 69 HEMI Roadrunner

Today the family business consists of a body shop, auto repair shop, and car wrecking service, that he started in ’88 in Nowata, Oklahoma. Teresa, his wife, manages the body shop, Ralph manages the wrecking business and David manages the auto repair side. Fortunately, paint and panelwork is not on the agenda for Project Tetanus '69 Roadrunner as we absolutely love the look of this car. Ralph’s youngest son David drives the car, and Ralph and Tyler promote the car and they all wrench on the car as a team. Some cylinder head upgrades may be next in their pursuit of more horsepower (and we have an inside scoop on some upcoming, secret magic from Stage V Engineering).

Ralph, Teresa, David and Tyler we salute you and wish you the very best of luck with this totally awesome car. In our view this is one of the most honest and unapologetic cars we have seen and embodies the real spirit of hot-rodding and drag racing. Project Tetanus ’69 Roadrunner be sure to keep us updated!

Project Tetanus: Ralph Bell's 69 HEMI Roadrunner
Project Tetanus: Ralph Bell's 69 HEMI Roadrunner
Project Tetanus: Ralph Bell's 69 HEMI Roadrunner

 

View the Project Tetanus ’69 Plymouth Road Runner PHOTO GALLERY HERE.

Project Tetanus: Ralph Bell's 69 HEMI Roadrunner


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