In the Spring of 1969, as Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In was dominating the pop charts, Chrysler began officially offering a trio of bright, saturated High Impact Colors. Although designed for their performance lineup of Barracudas, Chargers, Coronets, GTXs and Road Runners, the vivid colours were actually available across the board on all Chryslers, Dodges and Plymouths.
The origin of High Impact Colors goes back to 1968 and a Los Angeles Chrysler-Plymouth Regional Sales Manager by the name of Jock Fearer.
Barely a year after the Monterey Pop Festival and Summer of Love, the spread of psychedelia was bringing brilliant colours to the fore, and by 1968 Jock was likely no stranger to the sight of Tangerine and Signal Green Porsches, Fly Yellow Ferraris and Lotus Yellow Elans. Sensing a trend when he saw one, he began ordering Road Runners for his district in colourful non-standard paint finishes.
His first choice was an easy one, right from the Mopar catalogue; Omaha Orange, a colour used by several states and municipalities on public works vehicles for high visibility. As such, it was available as a standard fleet colour from all U.S. truck manufacturers including Dodge.
Jock was no doubt familiar with the luminous orange as it was used on Los Angeles sanitation vehicles. Since it was already available as a standard Mopar colour, it was relatively easy to special order Plymouths sprayed in Dodge-truck Omaha Orange.
Mr. Fearer initially ordered eleven Road Runners so equipped and his intuition proved correct; the brightly painted cars quickly sold out.
When it came time to place advance orders for 1969 models, Jock went a step further. In addition to “Orange” (the Omaha appellation was dropped for automotive use), he successfully convinced Chrysler to match a couple of competitors’ colours that had captured his attention.
The first was Bahama Yellow, a colour Porsche introduced for 1966, just as the German firm was getting its own impactful colour palate underway.
His third and final selection was Rallye Green metallic, a new-for-1968 colour exclusive to the Chevrolet Camaro.
Cars painted in one of Jock Fearer’s three unique colours received a 999 paint code (denoting a custom colour) on their body tags and build sheets.
Meanwhile, Jock negotiated a deal with the organizers of the October 1968 Los Angeles Times Grand Prix to provide new ’69 Road Runners to the Riverside Raceway for pace car duty, VIP transport, and an award car for the race winner. The majority of the furnished Road Runners were finished in Jock’s special-order Orange.
His radiant colour choices became extremely popular throughout the Los Angeles sales region, enough so that Chrysler choose to assign Mopar paint codes to the three shades and make them available nationwide in early 1969 as special Spring Colors.
Simultaneously, they decided to initiate development of their own in-house High Impact Colors for the upcoming 1970 models. Nearly a dozen intense and highly-saturated shades were created that became highly prized.
Here are three of the most memorable: