The Plymouth Superbird came out of Detroit in the 1970s. With a massive wing mounted on the rear trunk and a wedge-shaped nose, the Superbird manufactured by the Chrysler Corporation was something to behold.
The Superbird was built with a singular purpose in mind and it was to win NASCAR races. At the time, winning at NASCAR was a huge branding statement that could sell plenty of cars. It was a simple formula: Win at NASCAR, and sales of the model that won exploded within days.
The 1970 NASCAR rules required “one car for each of a manufacturer’s dealers in the United States.” That meant 1,920 Superbirds needed to be manufactured and sold by the country’s entire stable of Plymouth dealers so that they could be eligible to race in NASCAR that year. So that’s what Plymouth made happen.
The Plymouth designers added a huge aerodynamic nose-cone, smoothed out the body and added a large rear wing. In the power department, the cars could be bought with one of three engines: a 440 cu. in. Super Commando with a single four-barrel, a 440 cu. in. with a 6-pack, or the full-race 426 hemi. For people who are wondering how many of these unusual cars were made, only 135 street cars were sold with the Hemi; 665 took the option of the 440 Six Pack, and the rest were equipped with the 440 Super Commando with the four-barrel carb. The Superbird was essentially a modified Plymouth Road Runner.
NASCAR races have been “stock car races.” That meant that in order to compete that you had to drive a vehicle that was stock meaning “available to the general public.” It also needed to be sold in huge numbers to make it a “real production model.”
How Superbirds Performed
How did they do in 1970? According to the service team at Bosak Motor Sales, a full-service Chrysler Jeep Dodge RAM dealer in Merrillville, IN, Superbirds did well on the NASCAR tracks, winning eight big races and placing in many more. It didn’t hurt that Richard Petty, known as one of the greatest NASCAR drivers of all time, was behind the wheel of a Superbird during the 1970 NASCAR season. In fact, he won many of those eight big races.
For all the drama, Plymouth made a name for itself in the 1970s but sales of actual Superbirds were another story. The exaggerated looks of the ‘Birds were a bit extreme for many customers and most wanted the more conventional standard Roadrunner instead. As a result, Plymouth only made the Superbird model for one model year. Another similar car was the Dodge Charger Daytona that was only built for the 1969 model year. Yet another car like the Superbird was the Ford Torino Talladega.
The Value of Superbirds Today
Today, these cars that represent a genuine slice of automotive history, are very, very valuable. A nice example of a genuine Superbird with the 426 Hemi option can bring up to $500,000 at a car auction.
Image credits: mecum.com, ebizautos.com, classicrecollections.com