Rare Bird: 1970 Plymouth Superbird

In 1970, muscle car manufactures were trying to figure out new ways of squeezing out more speed, which lead to the birth of the aero cars. Plymouth’s entry into the aero competition was the Superbird. The Superbird was a special aerodynamic version of the Road Runner and less than 2,000 were ever built. This 1970 Plymouth Superbird is an original survivor and has been garage kept its entire life. The third owner has decided to move it on and it can be found here on eBay.

There were three engine options available in the Superbird. This one came with the base 440 Super Commando V8 with a four barrel carburetor. While the Hemi and the 440 Six put out more power, this engine still puts out 375 hp. The combination of aerodynamics and horsepower, allowed it to reach a top speed over 150 mph and a zero to sixty time of less than six seconds.

Of the 1,935 Superbirds that were built the majority came with a slush box. This one is one of the few to come with a four speed manual. The interior is immaculate and the seller claims it is original. This car has obviously been well cared for its entire life and is very original. There are about a thousand of these still around, but only a handful that are in original and unrestored condition.

The Bird is an icon of the Muscle car era and whether you love it or hate, you have to respect the effort to increase top speeds. These cars are highly collectable and nice examples are trading hands for well over $100,000. It will be interesting to see how high bidding on this one. We know there are a few of you out there that have owned Superbirds and we would love to hear about your experiences with them.

Comments

  1. Foxxy

    I had a six pack 440 4spd roadrunner in ’71. it was Vit C orange, I think this one is Hemi orange. it was the most bullet proof muscle car I ever had. unfortunately marriage and the gas shortage forced me to sell it. when I got it it had like 10,xxx miles on it, and cost me $1995.00 I don’t care much for the super cars but this car brought it all back. -peace-

  2. Cash

    The dealers couldn’t give them away and they still haven’t changed after all these years.

  3. Dolphin

    I don’t know much about the fine details of these Superbirds but I know what I like, and this is it. It’s too good to be a barn find, but who can resist having it on Barn Finds? With the bidding at $60+K after only 8 hours, it looks like there are other people who are excited about the car, too.

    As I remember, the aero nose was added to a fairly small number of these Superbirds to homologate it so Petty (?) could run it in NASCAR and….basically OUTrun all the other cars.

    I believe the original noses command a hefty price, and would pretty much buy you a real nice performance car if you had one to sell. The seller here doesn’t say whether the nose is original or repro, so it’s probably safer to consider it a repro unless there’s good documentation that it’s original—period photos and photos of the restoration, minimum.

    Normally I don’t crave long shifters that were cut from a big slab of steel, but this one sure looks right in this car.

    The 2010 date on the photos indicate either a camera that needs its settings corrected or that these are old photos, so best go and inspect closely before playing in this particular $60K-and-up pond.

  4. Skip Middleton

    This is at least a 6 figure car, even with the base engine. If it’s really an unrestored original, it should be at Barret-Jackson, not ebay…
    And Dolphin is right, Petty switched to Dodge to run the Charger Daytona in ’69, this is how Plymouth got him back.

    • Ian Norburg

      Actually Petty switched to Ford for the 69 season to run the Torino Talledega (sp?) because Plymouth wouldn’t let him drive a Daytona, but you are right in that the Superbird was designed to get him back.

      • Rob Lambert

        Talladega.

      • Skip Middleton

        A soon as I typed that, I started to doubt myself…you are quite correct, that was his single year foray into FoMoCo products.

  5. Rex Sagle

    If you go to youtube you will see my super bird on the old Calif, HIghway Patrol Track, it is painted Dodge colors, but was a blue superbird I purchased new from Lloyd McKee Chrysler Plmouth in Albuquerque, NM. A lady still has the car it is now black, and hopeflly she will restore it. I sold it with the 440 dual quad carbs, with the marine intake manifold it had 2:76 rear end with L60x15 tires on the rear, which was as high as I could gear it and still keep the speedo correct, it was clocked by VASCAR 191mph down the hill leading into Albuquerque from the west going east. if you kept the speed below 80mph it could get about 19 mpg. on Nov. 8th 1971 I travelled from Ontario Calif, to Albuquerque in 6 hrs 45 minutes due to the murder of my friend New Mexico State Trooper Robert Rosenbloom.
    The vehicle has many interesting stories, but go to youtube, type in Calif, HIghway Patrol Academy 1971, and you will get to see it in action. It was a great car, and did exactly what it was designed to do, win races, have fun, very dependable, and this one was a bright spot in my life

  6. Dan Farrell

    I think both Superbird and the Daytona were a response to the Ford Talledega and an equivalent Mercury (I forget the name of the Merc.) which were a less extreme attempts at more aerodynamic profiles.

    • Ian Norburg

      Mercury’s was the Cyclone Spoiler.

  7. John D

    My family had a small Chrysler Plymouth dealership. It is true, these were hard to sell. Ours lasted over 13 months. It languished in the back corner of the showroom, waiting to be sold.

    We sold it to a gentleman who owned the local air service at the airport. He did a test drive on the airport runway and had it up to about 120 mph. Normally that kind of driving is not allowed, but he could afford it. His only requirement was for us to remove the PLYMOUTH decals from the rear quarters. Our only requirement was that we would not take it back in on trade.

    I was the one tasked with taking those decals off. So armed with a bunch of razor blades, a heat lamp, and solvent I peeled those stickers off. I nicked the paint a few times. It was a nerve racking afternoon.

    The customer enjoyed his new car right away. The joy of new car ownership quickly soured for as policemen would pull him over just to look at the unusual an rare car. He soon tired of it. He was onhis way back to our dealership to negotiate the deal some more, the salesman saw him coming down the street, told my Dad, and the two of them ran to hide in the back of the parts room after instructing everybody they were out of the dealership.

    He finally found a trade-in deal at our neighboring Chrysler dealer. That weekend their number one salesman took it home, got drunk on the way and totaled it. A very low mile wreck. An unfortunate end to a powerful and unique car. We saw that happen to a number of the muscle cars we sold.

    Ours looked like this Superbird. Vitamin C Orange with a black interior. I never drove it, so I don’t rember if it was four speed or automatic. I believe it was an automatic though.

    We also had a Vitamin C Orange ‘Bird shipped in for use by the local Chrysler dealer rep. That one did not stay on the lot long. It was an automatic wtih the black interior. We also had an AAR Cuda shipped in for this guy the same year. I mention this because it was unusually equipped with an auomatic and a bench seat. It had to be fun to be a ‘factory guy’ back then. A lot of unsold cars were funneled through them to the factory’s used car disposal facilities.

    I almost bought a yellow 4 speed Superbird with the sales manager at an auction , a few years later. We were the last bidder at $3200, while the seller wanted only $3500. The sales manger had a Cordoba on his list that was coming to the block on another lane and rushed off to buy it. I ended up with a much more practical GTX convertible later that summer, which I still have.

    So this car brings back a rush of memories

    • Dolphin

      Great story John—a case of “you can’t make that stuff up”, I think.

      I have a vague memory of how muscle cars that some guys would give a kidney for today sat around on dealers lots back when they were new, and took a long time to sell. Probably cars like this Superbird that might have had features that weren’t good for daily-driver use, like 3 ft added to the front end, wide bias-ply tires that were bad in the snow, price $800 more than the model with the next-smaller engine, big gas consumption and bigger insurance bills.

      Back then the collector car market was pretty much limited to guys who had a nicely restored Model A because their grandfather drove one, or the few super-rich who had perfectly restored Duesenbergs. It was nothing like today, where hundreds of guys can go to Barrett-Jackson and drop $100K on a nicely restored musclecar like this because they saw one on a car lot 40 years ago and always wanted to own one.

      • Chris Hurt

        A lot of youngin’s nowadays don’t appreciate how impractical it was to own a muscle car in the 1970′s. I was about three years old in 1974 when my dad had a 1968 Torino Cobra with the 428 Cobra Jet Police Interceptor engine in it and a four speed tranny. What made them impractical to own was that insurers, wanting to eliminate anyone from owning muscle cars because of the accident rate among young males was pretty appalling. My dad didn’t have insurance on this car and is why it went away. He had left it at work near the loading dock and a tractor trailer backed into the front end…repeatedly because the driver thought he was stuck in the mud. He parked the car in the field behind the barn for several months. I was so in love with the car, I would go out and sit in it. One day, my family couldn’t find me and I was laying in the back seat asleep on a particularly hot day. It was a wonder I didn’t die in the car! My dad wound up selling the car in 1974 for $300 I think. That car is worth a king’s ransom today just for the engine and transmission set up. It was the most wicked car I have ever ridden in with the exception of a 1968 Camaro I rode in as a teen with a 427 with three deuces on it built to the hilt. So I will have to say that it was the most wicked factory car I have ever ridden in. I have owned two muscle cars in and just after high school myself, a 72 Monte Carlo with the 402 big block and a 1973 Charger SE with a 400 2 barrel and neither of these even came close to the Torino.

  8. paul

    Never was a fan of these overgrown heavy beasts & while all these cars are very fast, you don’t want to use their horrible brakes, that said , seeing any car from that era in this condition, 1 owner, unrestored, makes me smile, someone took very good care of it & that’s worth mega value in my book.

    • paul

      I meant to say only 3 owners.

  9. Ian Norburg

    I wouldn’t call this 100% original, if it’s original at all. The modern Mopar Performance valve covers are a big tip off that something may be up. The seller also mentions that the block is “date correct” which indicates to me that it could very well be a replacement rather than “matching numbers” original. I think it’s an earlier resto or a refurb. Saying that it’s original is a bit of a stretch with those valve covers.

    • paul

      I suppose your right Ian, but anyone can have the urge to change a valve cover, but date correct, does leave an odd taste in my mouth.

      • Thomas Spencer

        Ian & Paul,

        Many of these cars had “warranty replacement” long blocks installed when rods & pistons decided to see what the outside world looked like. To find one of these with the original engine, well, can be a crapshoot, and a correct date-coded block isn’t unacceptable in my book. Adding valve covers and dress up pieces doesn’t detract a bit, as many of these cars got quite a bit of “day 2″ modifications. Enjoy these cars for what they are, they’ll never be made again!

      • paul

        It also says that it’s on the super bird registry, so I am inclined to believe it to be real.

  10. mark

    Very nice car, even if there are a few small minor changes like valve covers. I have also heard that manual transmissions in these cars are rare. Again a very nice car and a piece of muscle car history!!

  11. nb

    I wonder what the car looks like today… photos are 2 years old.

  12. Rancho Bella

    These are huge cars. Frankly I am at a loss what folks see in them.

    • Jeff

      Agree. They are special & rare I’ll give em that. But they are track cars for the monied people who competed at that time. A bare bones Roadrunner with a Hemi or just a plain jane 383 would have been much more fun on the street at the time & more practical at the drive-in, that wing woulda caused fist-fights if the guy parked behind ya actually wanted to watch the movie lol ;)

    • Dolphin

      Rancho:
      I think I was a bit unclear about my liking this ‘Bird. There is no chance that I would buy one, even if I could afford it. I like it mainly because it was built to do a specific job on NASCAR tracks, and a commercial US carmaker actually built and sold them to the public to make them legal in racing. I’m not an expert on NASCAR history, but that seems to me to be a pretty rare thing. If that’s not rare in 1960s-’70s musclecars, then at least we can say that this one was given an outrageous part (the aero nose) with no usefulness on the street, that actually made it into production. Maybe not the best business model for the carmaker’s bottom line, but for once the bean counters didn’t win. I think that might make the Superbird even more attractive as a collectible car…it’s unique, odd, outrageous.

      If I were going to buy a collectible US musclecar it would be a C2 Coupe, but that’s another thread.

  13. FRED

    AS A MOPAR GUY I THOUGHT THESE WERE GREAT.I ALWAYS WANTED A NEW ROAD RUNNER BUT HAD TO WAIT TILL 1976 WHEN THE BIGGEST MOTOR YOU COULD GET.YOU COULD NOT GET A FOUR SPEED OR DUAL EXHAUST BUT YOU COULD IN A DUSTER WHICH I FOUND WEIRD. ALL I COULD GET WAS A FOUR BARREL AND 323 REAR AND LIMITED SLIP.ALL IT REALLY WAS WAS A VOLARE WITH ROAD RUNNER STRIPES AND WENT BEEP BEEP.THEN CAR CRAFT DID A BUILT UP OF ONE WHICH I FOLLOWED AND DID TO MINE. IT MADE IT A LITTLE FASTER ,LOUDER AND EASIER TO DO BURNOUTS BUT IT NEVER LIVED UP TO THE ROAD RUNNER NAME. SO MUCH SO THAT A GIRL BOUGHT IT AND THE MOTOR HEADS NEVER LET ME FORGET.WISH I HAD IT NOW WITH THE NEW HEMI AND BETTER OPTIONS.

    • John D

      Fred, I had a 1976 Volare Road Runner with the 360 and it had the big two barrel carb. I don’t think there waas a four barrel available. Yes it was an updated Duster. The updates included the modified torsion bars, which I thought made it ride very nicely while improving the handling.

      The engine, while not quite as peppy as the original 340 or 360 4bbl’s, was fairly fast. It was not quite up to the 440 of days gone by, but I felt it offered good fun. Thank the fuel consumption and the increasing insurance costs to the consumer and add the fact that the creeping emission controls robbed every engine of power until fuel injection was improved in the ’80′s.

      My car was B5 Blue with the white interior and a sunroof. Add the white letter wide oval tires on ralley wheels and you have a sharp car. It also had the Space-maker package which made the car a precursor to later hatch backs with the fold down rear seat

      That was one demo that I wish I could still have. I ran across it twice after it was sold, one time for sale and I could not afford it. After that, who knows where it went?

      Oh boy another flood of memories.

      • dave jacobus

        NO the volare/aspen were NOT updated duster/dart-demons.Lets start w/traverse torsion bars and go from there. and yes you could get the E-58 engine (360-4 bbl) same moter as the police package and oh yea it was the lil red trucks moter. and you could get a 4 spd. but 4th was od. you could order the car w/3.55 or 3.91 dealer installed gears as long as you ordered the Limetid slip option. Yea I was weaned on mopar heat riser penitrating spray solvent. SUCH A WONDERFUL LIFE I HAD. SIGH.

    • Rancho Bella

      Fred,
      the all caps is killin’ my eyes…………..

  14. Webby

    Saw one in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia in 1971. Bright orange, and surrounded by a crowd of locals who gazed upon it like it came from another world.

    Well, compared to the drab grey/brown/black knock offs of Fiats it was, I guess.
    For an 11 year old, fresh from New Guinea, it was too.

  15. Kman

    A little bird told me that a big block Superbird went for over $300,000 at and auction, (in Arizona, I think).

  16. Ed

    Our dad bought a Superbird in 1971. It is alpine white with the 440 sixbarrel. It has 52000 miles on it now and we drive it every weekend of the summer and to the Mopar Nat’s in Columbus,Ohio every august. My brother has now taken ownership. Our dad gave it to him in 1984 as a high school grad present. It’s still in the family to this day and will be for a long long time.

  17. Jim

    Many dealers that were stuck with these and unable to sell them de-superbirded them by removing the front nose, the wing and installed standard grills and headlights. Filled in the holes in the trunk where the wing was mounted and repainted it. I knew of a dealer who had 3 of them left over and did this to just get them off his lot. I often wondered what happened to those front noses and wings.

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