Plymouth Superbird : 1970

Only 1,920 produced.
Filed under:  Classic
Comment(s): 3
MSRP Engine HP Manufactured
n/a n/a n/a 1970 - 1970
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The Plymouth Superbird was an automobile that existed for one reason only - to win at NASCAR, the US stock car racing series. However, in reality, the Plymouth Superbird was built for one reason only, to get Richard Petty to come back to Plymouth. When the 1969 Dodge Daytona came out Richard Petty asked for something comparable, but because Dodge and Plymouth were separate racing divisions at the time, Plymouth didn't have a "wing car" at the time. Petty became angry and quit driving a Plymouth for the rest of that year and instead drove a Ford.

superbird logo1

From a 1970 Plymouth Superbird, located on top of the right "flip-up" headlight, as well as on each side of the enormous rear wing.

As a result, Chrysler engineers cobbled some pieces together and built a Plymouth version of the Charger Daytona with a 1970 Dodge Coronet hood and fenders for the sole purpose of getting Petty to come back to Plymouth. At that time though, NASCAR took the 'stock' in stock car racing reasonably seriously - vehicles to be raced had to be available to the general public and sold in sufficient numbers, a requirement known as homologation. In fact, in 1970, NASCAR raised the production requirement from 500 examples to one for each of that manufacturer's dealers in the United States; for Plymouth, that meant having to build 1,920 Superbirds. 1970 would prove to be its only production year.

The Superbird was basically a modified Plymouth Road Runner, but it was realized that while it was alright on the street to have the 'aerodynamics of a brick' (typical of most American cars of the period), something a little better would help at high racing speeds. So, following the lead of the previous year's Dodge Charger Daytona, the Superbird sported an aerodynamic nosecone adding nineteen inches to the length and containing retractable headlights, a slightly smoothed-out body, and to counter a tendency to lightness at high speed, a rear wing was mounted high on very tall tailfins. The reason for the fins was mostly to give clearance beneath them to lift the trunk deck lid, but it probably didn't hurt that it put the wing into less disturbed air.

All Superbirds used for racing were fitted with the 426 Hemi engine, but for the street, two lesser engines were available, the 440 Super Commando with a single 4-barrel carburetor and the 440 Six Pack with three two-barrel carbs. Only 135 street cars were fitted with the 426 Hemi; 665 took the option of the 440 Six Pack, and the rest were equipped with the 440 Super Commando.

On the street, the nosecone and wing made quite an impression, but the aerodynamic improvements hardly made a difference there or on the drag strip. In fact, the 1970 Road Runner was a slight touch quicker down the quarter mile. At 90 mph or greater, though, things were quite different.

The Superbird did reasonably well against strong Ford opposition on the NASCAR tracks that year, winning eight races and placing well in many more. It didn't hurt, of course, that Richard Petty, known as one of the greatest NASCAR drivers, was behind the wheel of a Superbird that year.

Contrary to popular belief, the Superbird, and the other "aero-body" cars in NASCAR, were not banned outright. The rules implemented for the 1971 season limited the aero cars to an engine displacement of no greater than 305 cid (5.0 liters). So while they were still legal to race, the extreme loss of horsepower which would come with the smaller engine, rendered the cars uncompetitive.

While the Superbird was a little extreme for 1970 (many customers preferred the regular Road Runner), it has become quite valuable.

The car was produced with three different engines:
--A 440, four barrel carburetor, V8 Engine. The most commonly produced engine accounting for 1,162 of the SuperBirds produced.
--A 440, six pack, V8 Engine. These accounted for 665 of the 1,920 produced.
--A 426 Hemi, V8 Engine. These are the best engines these cars were available with, and super rare with only 93 SuperBirds built with these.


Mopar Roadrunner with helmet Decal.

plymouth logo1

Plymouth logo, located (really big) on each side of the rear quarter panels, just behid the rear wheels.

superbird side

1970 Plymouth Superbird. Note the Plymouth logo, located (really big) on each side of the rear quarter panels, just behid the rear wheels.

superbird wing

From a 1970 Plymouth Superbird, located on each side of the enormous rear wing.

road runner emblem

From a 1970 Plymouth Superbird, Road Runner emblem located on the right side of the trunk lid.

superbird headlight

From a 1970 Plymouth Superbird, located on top of the right "flip-up" headlight.

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