The Dodge Six Pack and Plynouth Six Barrel of 1969 were not as illustrious as the mighty Street Hemis, maybe, but they sure got the job done.
The Plymouth Road Runner Six Barrel (in Rallye Green, above) and Dodge Super Bee Six Pack (in Hemi Orange, below) filled a critical gap in the Mopar muscle car lineup for 1969, one that might not be apparent at first glance. With the 426 Hemi, Chrysler Corporation was already king of the mountain in the performance youth market, pretty much. But as dominating as it was, the Hemi was costly to buy and tricky to tune and maintain. The Six Pack and Six Barrel models were intended to offer similar performance at a more affordable price, and with a stripped-down, no-nonsense appearance package. If the mighty Mopar Hemi was muscle car royalty, the Six Pack and Six Barrel were the working class heroes.
Introduced in February of 1969 as mid-year models, the Dodge Super Bee Six Pack and Plymouth Road Runner Six Barrel were very similar, naturally, sharing a common Chrysler B-body platform and black metal. (The Dodge version got the cooler name of the two, many will say.) Both were available in pillarless hardtop and two-door coupe (swing-out quarter glass) body styles, and they are known today by Mopar fans as A12 cars, the factory option code for the three-carb package. The models are also identified by the letter M in the fifth character of their VIN code.
The success of the sparsely equipped Road Runner and Super Bee had taught the Mopar product planners that performance buyers couldn’t care less about frills, so the Six Pack/SIx Barrel cars were stripped to the bone as well. Since racers would just remove them anyway, there were no wheel covers, only black steel wheels with chrome acorn nuts. One obvious visual signifier was the flat black fiberglass hood sporting a giant, fully functional air scoop, attached with four racing-style hood pins—no hinges. Most of the good stuff was hidden away inside and underneath: heavy-duty suspension parts from the 426 Street Hemi, the buyer’s choice of a A883 four-speed manual or Torqueflite 727 automatic transmission, and a beefy Dana 60 rear axle with limited-slip differential and 4.10:1 gears.
Obviously, the beating heart of the Six Pack/Six Barrel package was the 440 cubic-inch V8 with three two-barrel Holley carburetors. Edelbrock, the famed California speed equipment maker, was the original supplier of the aluminum intake manifold (above left) that carried the three 2300-series carbs with center-hung floats. (The piece was assigned an actual Chrysler part number, P4529056.) A12 engines also received upgraded connecting rods, Street Hemi valve springs, moly-filled top piston rings, a half-point greater compression ratio, a dual-point distributor, and a trick high-overlap camshaft. The package was rated at 390 hp, only 15 more than the standard 440 big-block Magnum single-carb engine and a gross understatement of the true potential.
Indeed, magazine ads for the Road Runner Six Barrel boasted of quarter-mile times deep into the 13-second zone at 107-110 mph (and even a little better than that with Ronnie Sox at the wheel) running with stock tires and exhaust system. There you have it: The Six Pack/Six Barrel cars were as quick as most anything on the streets that year, and at hundreds of dollars less than the Street Hemi, so mission accomplished.
Due to the mid-year introduction and production hassles at the Lynch Road plant in Detroit, relatively few A12 cars were built in 1969, which makes them all the more valuable in the collector market today. But they did serve as proof-of-concept, if you will, for the the triple-carb 440 CID V8, which was spun off the following year as an optional engine across the model lines at Chrysler and carried on into 1972, just as the curtain was falling on the muscle car era.
Article courtesy of Mac's Motor City Garage.