1970 Plymouth Superbird Barn Find!

The Road Runner-based Superbird was a one-year only attempt at Plymouth’s dominance in NASCAR. After Ford and Dodge spent 1969 dueling on the track with their aerodynamic race cars, Plymouth jumped into the action for 1970. NASCAR rules required that cars built for the track must also see a specific number of like vehicles produced for John Q. Public. In the case of the Superbird, just 1,935 cars were built like this one in Kerrville, Texas. A rare car today, it’s available here on eBay where the bidding has reached at $55,655.55 and – of course — the reserve has not been met.

The success of the Dodge Daytona on the track goes back to testing in a wind tunnel, leading them to come up with a drag-reducing nose and lift-controlling rear wing. Plymouth took that work to the next level by tweaking the Dodge nose and sweeping back the wing uprights. When they got done, the two cars would share no sheet metal with each other. While the Superbirds were hot on the track and are lusted after today, they didn’t fly out of Plymouth showrooms back in the day. We understand many had to be heavy discounted to be sold or they were converted to regular Road Runners. Of the 1,935 Superbirds built, they came with three engine choices:

  • 426 cubic inch Hemi V-8/425-hp: just 135 units or 7%
  • 440 V-8 with Six Pack carburetion/390-hp; 716 cars or 37%
  • 440 V-8 with a 4-barrel carb/375-hp; 1,084 units or 56%, clearly the most “common” and one that the seller’s car represents

The seller’s unrestored Superbird, finished in Tor Red aka Hemi Orange, is car number 1147 out of those produced. It’s a numbers-matching machine with a 4-speed manual and a Dana 60 rear differential. We’re told that it has been off the road for years, having last been inspected in 1977. The seller did some dis-assembly a few years ago and found the powerplant capable but weak, thus it needs to be rebuilt. But he put it back together, rebuilt the carburetor, and replaced things like the fuel pump, water pump, gaskets, lifters, and oil pump.

Some history comes with the car. It was built in December 1969 and purchased in Iowa in August 1970. An under-dash air conditioner was added in 1971. Two years later, the original owner moved to Texas and the car did as well; it’s been in the state ever since. The seller bought the car from that party in 1992 when it had 42,000 miles on the odometer at that time. No mileage has been added since.

All Superbirds came with a vinyl roof and this car was no exception. However, that covering likely became a big problem later as most of the rust visible on the car is likely the result of corrosion that started beneath the vinyl. While the car was repainted in the 1970s, today it has rot in the upper and lower quarter panels, trunk drip channel, trunk pan, driver’s side floor pan, rear window plug, and even the roof itself. The nose has rust around the lower spoiler mounting bolts and the hood has rust in several areas. The right/left frames have pitting on the inner sides and ends. However, there is some good news as the firewall, inner fenders, door jambs, torsion “X” member and front frame all good, per the seller.

Besides the nose piece, the most distinguishable feature of the Superbird is its rear wing, and this one had its stolen in the 1980s and a NOS wing is there in its place now and has never been painted. Under the hood, the engine compartment is original, including paint, wiring, horn, air cleaner, voltage regulator and other equipment. The A/C compressor and brackets have been removed. The interior looks pretty good from what we can see, with buckets seats instead of a bench, console, power front disc brakes, and power steering with cooler. Some of the original paperwork from 1970 survives including a build sheet, but assembly workers apparently goofed and put the wrong one under the back seat.

Superbird resale values have been up and down the spectrum over the years, often dependent on the health of the economy. And value depends as much on the powerplant and color as it does on condition. Hagerty says a topflight Hemi could be worth as much as $364,000, whereas Six Packs and 440-4V are half that and higher. It’s likely that the reserve for this car is in six-figures, but the buyer will have to spend a fair amount on top of that to correct all the sheet metal that has rotted over time.

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Comments

  1. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Great project for someone in to the Big Birds, though I’m wondering what speed ratings were for the tires on the trailer apparently hitched up to this flyer! Some hate these but a lot of us thought they were great-just didn’t have the money at the time to buy one and insure it..

    Like 17
  2. angliagt angliagt Member

    I like how the bid ends in 55 cents – like that’ll make
    a difference…..

    Like 19
  3. gaspumpchas

    The rot in this bird is unbelieveable. Start with the roof and work your way down, lotsa polish on this one. 55 large? You guys think its worth it?? Good luck and stay safe.
    Cheers
    GPC

    Like 20
    • wardww

      Well worth it. Love him or hate him, Mark Worman from Graveyard cars would restore this and I’ve seen him restore worse ones than this and made money. All the body panels are still available and it’s all there. That it’s beauty. It is complete. It’s at 70k as I write with 5 days to go. It will go over 100k I predict. This is gold.

      Like 3
  4. Mike

    Never ever seen how the wing was supported from inside the truck. Interesting.

    Like 4
    • Mike

      Truck? Sorry, trunk.

      Like 6
  5. arkie Member

    As I understand it, it’s not uncommon to have mismatched build sheets with ‘Birds. While being converted, ( by a contractor) the rear seats would be removed and stacked like cordwood. When time came to re-install, any matching color seat at hand would fit the bill.

    Like 14
  6. Jeff

    pass

    Like 10
  7. David

    I’m asking…What’s a realistic dollar figure for good contract bodywork, new vinyl, and a paint job? $12k? Would that do it right?

    Like 1
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      Not a prayer at that number. Looks like you left off the zero behind the two.
      This car needs major sheet metal work, probably some support structure work as well.

      A reputable restoration shop will tell you that they’ll agree to start the work with a floor at $50 or $60K and go from there.

      Like 23
  8. arkie Member

    Everyone’s argument about this car’s worth and the cost of restoration is indeed valid. Still, we are talking about a Superbird. One that appears to be a relatively complete.

    Like 13
  9. Derek

    I like the fact that someone, at some point, was looking for a cheap old shagger to tow with…

    Like 17
    • Steve

      It always amazes me at the number of big horsepower muscle cars that had hitches installed on them.

      Like 11
      • John M.

        It seems like that’s all you ever see now.

      • wardww

        But on this car it really looks as weird as F. It’s like dressing a hooker as a housewife. ;-)

        Like 1
    • jerry hw brentnell

      ever think it was a car thet sat on a dealers lot not sold in 1970 and by 1971 some body got a killer deal on a unwanted car, and jumped at it! and used it as every day car, and didn’t give any thought of how few there wear! hence the trailer hitch, they beat the hell out of it ,and it just become a back row used car lot back row beater! nobody wanted!

      Like 2
  10. Ray

    That rust is scary thing see it that bad got be rich if money fix this classic car

    Like 5
  11. K Gun Offense

    These cars have a rich history and it is hard but yet easy to understand why dealerships had a hard time selling g them. Back in the day you could get them for nothing. Now, I would dare say the reser e is probably double the current bid. Restored, no doubt you would not have trouble selling it for 225 grand with a proper restoration. This one with all the rust that can be seen, there is no doubt a lot more. Unless you can do it yourself, you are probably looking at somewhere between 55 to 70 grand for the sheet metal work and paint. Definitely out new quarters on. The bonds on those makes me doubt that there is a lot of metal left. I love these cars and would live to have it. I have 2 already and not the time to fix a 3rd with that amount of work. However, it is definitely worth fixing . I hope it meets the reserve and goes to a home that will fix her and get her done!!!!

    Like 9
  12. Richard Damm Member

    Three strikes and you’re out. Rot, Rot, and not the engine of choice. 55K and not near a reserve yet? There are other choice projects out there that won’t have you mortgaging the house.

    Like 8
  13. JC

    There was a used car dealership about 30 minutes from me that had several of these… and they were in great shape. I think the highest priced one was like 135k which sounds like a bargain after looking at this wreck… the owner must have retired or passed away as the dealer is now closed unfortunately.

    Like 5
  14. David Bailey

    Here’s my Superbird story. Having lived my whole life in a very rough part of Detroit, I moved to A “safe” suburb. My daily driver was a Blue ’69 Tunner, 383, Autom, that I had put some mid ’60s(?) Cragars on, the kind that the ribs on them looked a little fuller than the later wheels. Naturally, parked out front, the car was stolen. THEY got the wheels andd car was found on milk crates in–Detroit. I bought some new American Racing wheels , put a cheap keyed alarm on it, then kept driving. Sure enough, THESE wheels were stolen, and police found the RR in another suburb, on crates with rear quarter pushed in, apparently trying to clear wheel opening. I’m done! This is in 1974. I felt car was too beat up(it wasn’t) so I start to look through The Sunday Detroit News classifieds. On the East Side of Detroit are The Pointes–Very upscale suburbs, and sure enough there is a 1970 Superbird , low miles, all orig., for $2300, 440-Six pack as we called them, or, 440-6BBL. as Plymouth called them. Next day, fresh from going to bank, I call seller to finalize directions. “..Twenty Three hundred, correct?…”, just so no surprises. Seller’s voice hesitates,’..Ahh, well, no. News screwed up and the price is now $3200…’… What a jack-hole, after agreeing to price, times, everything, this little blankety-blank weaseled out of deal. Maybe I could have borrowed the extra $900 from my bothers or bank, but I had my pride! I just didn’t have MY SUPERBIRD!

    Like 9
  15. Sfm5

    So much sheet metal work, rust in areas that are difficult to fix without using a donor car, not to mention mechanicals. Sure these are high dollar cars when they are shiny & rolling across the stage at an auction house. To get this car to that point could easily be up into 6 figures.

    Like 9
  16. Desert Rat

    Ok, my Superbird story. I was 15 and worked sacking groceries at the commissary on Fort Bliss TX, my uncle Gene had a new Superbird all I know it was a 440 car auto, white with black top. I had my learners permit and he let me drive the car to work with him in the shotgun seat. Boy you should have seen the looks on the other sackers when I drove up in that Superbird. I was king for a day!

    Like 12
    • wardww

      A legend in your own lunchtime as we say down under.

      Like 1
  17. Karl

    The car certainly has potential to be beautiful once again! The amount of $$ and work to get it there is going to high on both counts. I hope someone buys it and does just that though, it got to much heritage to just let it die!

    Like 3
  18. T-Bone

    No thanks. It’s apparent the owner of this piece of history gave this car no love (trailer hitch and the looks of being left under a tarp to rot). I guess in the end this rot box is going to finance juniors college.

  19. adam

    send it to Graveyard Cars they’ll restore it to new,

    Like 2
  20. Jeff Striepling

    I was 13 years old, living in Lauderhill Florida in 1970. A mechanic living down the street from me always seemed to have one or more winged Roadrunners in his yard to do work on. Out of curiosity I stopped by to see what he was doing. He worked at a local Chrysler/Plymouth dealer and they payed him to remove the wings for customers that didn’t want them. He had about a dozen wings in all different colors. Most were Superbird wings, but he did have a couple Daytona wings. He said I could have one if I wanted one but I didn’t know what I’d do with it. If I knew then, what I know now.

    Like 4
  21. Jo-Jo the Dog Faced Boy

    I wonder if it comes with a matching trailer, that would be sweet.

    Like 1
  22. Tom

    In 1974-ish, my buddy got his Bird and CASH for an old Willys Jeep with a manual snow plow. Old Willys Jeeps weren’t worth a whole lot in 1974 – and neither was the Bird.
    The Used Car Dealer needed a snow plow and needed to get rid of the Bird.
    True story. He still has it.

    Like 2
  23. MB

    A 100K car that needs 50K of work and selling for more than 50K is a joke. It’s nothing that special, no 6 barrel, no Hemi. So it’s a 4 speed, BFD. Can buy 440/ 6 barrel pristine Mopar cars for 90k, why would anyone buy this… sorry.

    Like 2
  24. T-Bone

    MB, you hit that nail on the head, although I think your 50k to get it done may be a bit conservative.

    Like 2
  25. TCOPPS TCOPPS Member

    Patching that rust around the rear window is going to be painfully difficult.

    Like 1
    • wardww

      The value of this car is such that you would not patch. You would replace the whole panel. After watching Graveyard Carz for several seasons, one thing I do know is that there is a flourishing market of OEM parts for MOPAR. I doubt whoever buys it would think of patching this car.

      Like 1

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