Written by independent automotive journalist David C. Neyens
During the late 1960s, as Chrysler’s mighty 426 cubic-inch HEMI engine reached its development zenith, engineers realized raw horsepower was no longer sufficient to win in NASCAR. Plymouth stalwart Richard Petty may have won 27 of 49 races during the 1968 NASCAR season in his HEMI-powered Plymouth Satellite, but archrival Ford enticed him to switch camps to a sleeker Torino Talladega for 1969. Chrysler’s only hope of beating Ford on the new and extremely fast NASCAR superspeedways was to drastically reduce aerodynamic drag to unlock higher speeds. While the Dodge Charger 500 with its revised grille and flush rear-window treatment was a definite improvement, more drastic measures were soon required.
Using the latest wind-tunnel test data, Chrysler engineers devised a more radical solution in 1969 – the Charger Daytona. Featuring an extended steel nose cone with a chin spoiler and pop-up headlamps up front and an outrageous but highly effective rear wing, the Daytona delivered much-needed front and rear downforce at speed. Most importantly, the Daytona rewrote racing history as the first NASCAR competitor to break the 200-mph barrier. Just enough – 503 in all – were produced in time to qualify the slippery Daytona for NASCAR competition. Debuted late in ’69 at Talladega, the Daytona scored its first win there with Richard Brickhouse driving.
Development of a Plymouth counterpart to the Daytona kicked off in June 1969 but temporarily halted that August before NASCAR announced a new 1,000-car production requirement or a number equal to half a company’s dealers, whichever was highest, giving the Superbird a new lease on life. Unknown to many enthusiasts, the Road Runner-based Superbird was quite different from the Daytona. Since the Road Runner’s front fenders were not a good match for the nose cone, the hood and fenders from the B-body Dodge Coronet were swapped in for the Superbird. A textured vinyl roof covering hid the seams around the revised rear window, and the rear wing was taller with the stabilizers/supports raked further back than those of the Daytona. Nearly four times more Superbirds were built than the prior Daytona, with total Superbird production reaching 1,935 cars – all constructed between October 23 and December 15, 1969. Suitably encouraged by the Superbird’s speed potential, Richard Petty returned to Plymouth for 1970. While he did not win the 1970 NASCAR Grand National championship, he did score eight of Plymouth’s 21 victories for 1970.
Only 135 Superbirds were factory-equipped with the all-out 426/425hp Chrysler Street HEMI V8 engine, including this incredible example, Lot #1400 on the 2022 Scottsdale Auction docket and offered with No Reserve. A truly amazing survivor, this 1970 Plymouth Superbird has accumulated just over 6,000 documented miles and stands as perhaps the finest remaining example of a highly original Superbird in existence. Professionally repainted to exact factory standards in extra-cost Code EV2 Tor-Red Hi-Impact paint, the collector-grade Superbird features a remarkably preserved original body, undercarriage, engine compartment and interior. Equipped with a 426/425hp HEMI V8 engine, it is one of only 77 equipped with Chrysler’s renowned TorqueFlite automatic transmission. Other features and options include the performance axle package, power brakes (disc/drum), hood pins, power steering, a black vinyl top, Rally wheels and stripe delete. Documentation is excellent, including original Fender Tags, Window Sticker, production Broadcast Sheet, and owner’s manual. Topping it all off is a Wise Vehicle Validation Report from Mopar expert Dave Wise, managing partner of MMC Detroit. A true part of American muscle car and motorsports royalty, this extremely rare, HEMI-powered Superbird is simply an outstanding example of Chrysler’s legendary NASCAR “Aero Warriors” in all possible respects, worthy of the finest collections.
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