Fit for “The King”: 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird

The Plymouth Superbird is an iconic vehicle that needs no introduction. Today an original Superbird is one of the most sought-after cars in the USA, but when they were new, a few dealers struggled to sell them. The aerodynamic nose and huge rear wing did not meet with general acceptance in some areas. As a result, a few dealers removed these parts, returning the cars to a more standard Road Runner appearance. There has never been a definitive total put on cars that suffered this fate, but thankfully this vehicle wasn’t one of them, and you have an opportunity to secure an example of a car that has cemented its place in NASCAR history. You will find it listed for sale here on eBay. It is located in Rushford, Minnesota, and is being offered for sale with a clear title. The owner has set an opening bid of $117,500 for the Superbird, although there is a BIN option set at $147,500. A huge thanks must go to Barn Finder Patrick S for brininging this car to our attention.

This Superbird is a nice, solid car. The car has undergone a repaint at some point in its life, but the seller states that all of the sheet-metal is original. There are a number of shots of the underside of the car, and it also looks solid. The paint looks good, and the iconic nose and rear wing both appear to be in good condition. I’ve always found it interesting to note that Plymouth originally hadn’t planned on that wing being as high as it is. The original idea was to have it as high as the vehicle roof-line, but it was then found that the trunk lid hit it when opened, so the wing height was raised to clear it. In the trunk are the original jack and spare tire, along with the original trunk mat.

The interior of the Superbird is in generally good and original condition, but there’s one slightly odd aspect to it that I’ll get to shortly. Examining the interior carefully, the only real issue that I can spot is some cracking on the rim of the wheel. Otherwise, everything seems to check out okay.

This is where I’ve spotted something that appears to be a bit odd, and I’m hoping that our Barn Finders might be able to shed some light on it. The rear seat has these white inserts in it, both along the front of the cushion, and up through the center of the seat. The front seats have the fine white piping. I’ve seen Superbirds with both options, but I’ve never seen one where it is mixed from front to back like this. Hopefully, someone can shed some light on this. Leaving that aside, the rear seat also looks to be in good condition.

Under the hood is the 440ci Super Commando engine, which was the most common engine fitted to the Superbird. This is backed by a 4-speed manual transmission. The car is fully numbers matching. The seller states that the car runs and drives well. The car has its original VIN Tag, Fender Tag, Door Sticker, and two Build Sheets.

The Plymouth Superbird was built for two reasons: To win in NASCAR, and to lure Richard Petty back from Ford. It did both of these things, with Petty driving the Superbird to eight wins during the 1970 season. The Superbird continues to command some really strong interest, and as a result, it also commands serious money when an example comes onto the market.  There are quite a number on the market at present, and prices range from around $160,000 up to around $210,000. What is interesting about this is that the vast majority of both those that are currently for sale and those that have recently sold, is they virtually all have automatic transmissions. This is all the more interesting as there wasn’t a huge difference in build numbers between the 440-4 with a manual transmission (458) versus the 440-4 with the automatic (626). Examples like this that are fitted with a manual transmission seem to be a rarity in the market. Does that make this one more desirable to you?

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Comments

  1. Matthew Member

    beautiful car in that stunning orange! Would love to row through the gears in this thing…

    21
  2. BW

    O.K. Adam, a bit of Superbird education is in order. The rear wing was NOT designed at that height to clear to deck lid. The engineers at Chrysler who designed the car in a wind tunnel emphatically insist the height was 100% determined for “clean” air. NASCAR had no requirement in 1970 that a deck lid clear anything.

  3. Jeff

    I respect the historical racing significance of these cars, but have absolutely zero interest in them. They look ridiculous.
    If I were offered this car or a comparable-condition GTX (and couldn’t sell it), I would absolutely take the GTX.

    21
    • Jonathan Hawkins

      The ’70 GTX was a high point of good looking big cars that could move.

  4. Lance Nord

    There has never been any practicality to this car as a driver or even as a toy to drive on weekends. I passed on a chance to buy one with 26K miles on it for $3,300 back in ’78 because I had no practical use for it and no place to store it/show it.

    5
    • carter

      should have done it. if i had it i would put 502 crate in that sucker

    • TinCanSailor

      One languished on the lot of the local Plymouth dealer until 1973 or 74. I used to ride past on my bike. I understand it finally sold at about half the asking price. We were pretty poor back then, but I sure wish I could have gotten dad to buy that instead of the 74 Chevelle 4 door we did buy. At the reduced price it sold for, the Superbird and the Chevelle probably sold for about the same price. WOW…

      6
  5. Fred W

    Wonder why the engineers, faced with the wing not clearing the trunk lid, didn’t just move it back a couple of inches. Looks to me like an 8″ tall wing could have cleared the lid if moved back far enoughl. But, I’m just an “armchair engineer”.

    5
    • mike b

      Yes. Or mount it on the trunk.

      Loved it when I would see one of these in my pre-teen, early car awareness youth. Outrageous, even cartoonish. And actually wore a cartoon, one of my favorites, on the side. I doubt I would buy one even if I had that sort of disposable income, but if I had the money to buy a car that spent it’s life on display I would much rather have this one than something like a Buick Grand National with zero stage presence. Neither car wins the 1/4 mile in the garage.

      7
      • Jett

        How can you honestly say that Darth Vader’s car has “zero stage presence”??

        5
    • CoffeeJoe

      The wing is that tall so it can react to the uninterrupted flow of air above the body. This enables it to give more down force and better traction. Chrysler/Plymouth literally brought in a rocket scientist from their “rocket” division to assist in the design of this and the Charger Daytona.

      9
  6. Jimmy

    No desire to ever own one, IMHO they are ugly as hell. They are collector cars only not to be driven on a regular basis and that’s what I do with my cars & trucks.

    5
  7. glen

    Every time one of these shows up here, it’s the same thing; these are ugly, I wouldn’t want one, these aren’t practical, etc. They weren’t produce for anything but homologation reasons, and it worked, and they won races.

    13
    • Jimmy

      @glen well the Mustang II got most of the nation around during the oil crisis just fine while selling at the top of automakers wish list but we still have Mustang II haters and that’s democracy at it’s finest.

      4
      • glen

        I agree 100% that there will always be disagreements on style, but you’re talking apples to oranges. The sales totals, the style, the reason for being produced are completely different, and can’t be compared.

        5
    • Jeff

      Yes, they won races then, but now what do you do with them now? Sell them as overpriced art, apparently.

      3
  8. Keith

    Oh me! Oh my! A Mopar Super Bird!!!!! Sell the house, sell the pets, sell the mother in law, sell the wife and kids, drain your bank account, take out massive money loans, hook up with some loan sharks!!!!! MUST GET THE $$$ TO BUY THIS SUPERBIRD! BECAUSE IT’S A MOPAR SUPERBIRD!

    12
  9. Paul Grumsha

    Maybe the front seats or the rear had been changed with o.e.m. parts but optioned differently than the originals?

    4
  10. Bill Shields

    I think I remember reading that there was a leather seat option for these car’s but I’m sure it was only the front seats that came in leather. That could explain the difference in upholstery.

    2
  11. Tom Justice

    I think they are ugly as well. I am old enough to remember when they sat at dealer lots and they had to beg people to buy them. Oh, well, another missed chance.

    5
  12. Dirk

    One of the most hideous, ridiculous looking monstrosities ever built by any American automaker. I don’t know exactly how much I’d need to be paid to ever be seen in one of these things but I’ll tell you one thing, you couldn’t afford it. They always make me think of Joe Dirt, which is unfortunate, because I like those movies.

    7
  13. CoffeeJoe

    This car has been my dream car since I was a kid watching the races with my Dad way WAY back when. It is so over the top and shows a firm commitment from the factory to “Race on Sunday, Sell on Monday” attitude!

    You will rarely, if ever, see another on the same road you are on!

    16
    • James

      CoffeeJoe, I’m with you; “Race on Sunday, Sell on Monday” was what the muscle car era was all about. If you wanted practicality, you had the wrong hobby. The performance cars today are clearly far superior, but I don’t see the same single minded passion in my kids or their friends that we experienced. I see the same lack of all consuming passion in the audio arena as well. Remember “Who cares if it’s as big as a Subaru and costs twice as much!!”? Guess I’m dating myself!

      3
  14. Neil

    Why not just get a competent fab shop to make the nose and ridiculous wing. Install and when you pull into wall mart for toliet paper you can be king rooster.
    Even though it would be a clone u would know that you didn’t waste $200,000. On a car that is undriveable and frankly only cool if you are a male under 16 years.

    2
    • jim

      they make a fiberglass kit for the chargers to make a clone on ebay.. 4500 bucks

      3
  15. Jack in NWPA

    I’m a male almost 60, I saw my first one in 1970 when I was 12 orange and all, The gas station owner bought it new. I stared at it for what seemed like hours. I loved it then and love them now. I got to restore a B5 blue Superbird some years ago what a privilege. So if someone has a restorable ‘bird that I could afford let me know.

    11
  16. Del

    One of the nicest Muscle cars ever made.

    Strange venue to sell on ?

    Usually these go to up-scale auction houses.

    I would rather have an automatic in one of these. Just a torque flite guy.

    5
  17. Matt steele

    I’d drive that..saw a video of Richard petty car ..love the sound

    4
  18. Martin

    In development the wings were shorter, but they found that raising them improved downforce.

    3
  19. Tom

    a friend has one in yellow. As testimony to the ‘struggle to sell them’, about 1974 or 75, he traded a 1940’s Willys Jeep with a manual snow plow for the Superbird plus he got $500 cash. Winter was coming. The car had been sitting there for a while and the used car lot needed a plow.
    And, I’m sure the Jeep wasn’t much. The rust belt is rather cruel to Jeeps.

    3
  20. Jeff...

    Jim,

    There is a conversion kit is available for $3,500.

    I would also prefer a clone and drive the he!! out of it.

    Jeff…

    1
  21. Pete in PA

    I don’t understand all the hate directed towards the appearance of the Superbird. I think it’s an awesome looking car, especially in this color. I’d love to own one, preferably in hemi orange or yellow and with a 440 6-pack and a 4-speed. But from drive reports I’ve read over the years these are NO fun to drive unless you’re on a track. The steering is supposedly very heavy and slow, obviously a good thing if you’re traveling at 100+ mph. But to drive one on the street, if only to a car show, requires some big biceps. To park one… Despite the drawbacks the Superbird is truly an iconic car and I’d pay money for the experience of driving one if only for a short time. In the 80s there was a white example for sale around Harrisburg, PA. Asking price was $10k which was beyond my means at the time. If only…

    6
  22. Dave

    Yep, how many 2 door Tauruses did Ford make?

  23. Dave

    If you weren’t alive 50 years ago you wouldn’t understand why Chrysler built this car. America was a totally different country with a different mindset. The Arab oil embargo of 1973 changed everything and created a whole lot of junk in its wake. I was attending college in Columbus Ohio then, and abandoned muscle cars littered many apartment complexes’ parking lots. When you could find gas it cost twice what it did before the embargo. Chrysler made a little over 1900 Superbirds, that’s why they’re valuable. What I don’t get is why Monte Carlo AS Aerocoupes are still cheap.

    • Tom Member

      Thanks Dave. I am a GM guy but love this car for the history of it. Read up on your Nascar History and you will understand this car…..that is a big part of WHY it is cool.

      As for all of you with the negative comments, no one really cares. Ok we get it, you don’t like it and you wouldn’t buy it……and I would venture to guess most of you COULDN’T buy it.

      They sell for 6 figures…..apparently you are not right about their value or desirability, you are simply right about your own feelings toward the car and, well, again, no one really cares. Let us know what your favorite cars are so we can crap all over them? Again, I am a classic car guy. A GM guy for the most part but have some respect already?

      2
  24. stillrunners

    What that spanked Mopar hater said…..steal that 4 speed at that price !

    1
  25. RoughDiamond Member

    Another reason they did not sell is that they would not fit in the average size garage of homes built before or during the time that these SBs were affordable. Compared to what these SBs were selling for in the past few years, IMO, this one is a great buy being a numbers matching 4-speed with all the documentation

    3
  26. Steve S

    I seen a 1970 superbird at the local cruise that is held around the court house every year in the town I live in a couple years ago but it was an automatic and the original 440 was swapped out for the 426 hemi and story #2 my uncle used to work with a guy that has a numbers matching 100% showroom or museum condition 1970 superbird 426 hemi 4 speed manual transmission car still 100% factory original

    1
  27. Steve S

    I forgot to add that he bought the car from the dealer off the showroom floor when he was 16 years old

    2
  28. CATHOUSE

    So, no one knows why the front seat upholstry does not match the rear seat? I am still wondering what is up with that. I also want to know why the car has both a scissors jack and a bumper jack? Scissors for the front, bumper for the rear?

    • Al

      Thats why they came with two jacks, scissors for the front and bumper for the rear, the interior looks like it was swapped out at one time.

    • Tim Nelson

      Yes that was the reason for the 2 Jack’s. As for the upholstery it might have been an early model or late and they were short on exact matching seats!

      3
      • CATHOUSE

        Thanks to Al and Tim for the reply on the jacks.

  29. Robert Rossi

    One of my very good friends worked at Chrysler when these cars were produced. He told me they used to have the dealers remove the wings and throw them in the dumpsters because they couldn’t sell the cars. Now years later my son works for a big Mopar Muscle car restoration shop in N Kingstown, RI. where they’re done a few.

    2
  30. Leon D Henderson

    I had a 1968 GTX 440-Super Commando I bought in 1970 for 500.00it had a slightly bent A pillar it was a pastel yellow only mo par I ever owned I was going home one night it had duel points one set closed up I was running about 140 I thought I blew the engine didn’t know much about cars then I messed with it about 1 wk one night some guy’s was over at my folks house in the garage I said listen to this one kid said a set of points closed up he said his closed up about a month ago. Thanks for letting an old man ramble on HA HA

    2
  31. garry connors

    can you think about how much this car will be worth in 10 or twenty years

  32. geo0176 Member

    Thanks Adam for a great article on the SuperBird. Good catch on the difference of the seats. The fender tag for this car indicates it started life as a black interior bench seat car, H2X9. Looks like sometime along the way someone replaced the bench with bucket seats. I’ve had my SuperBird for about 35 years – I’m the 2nd owner and was able to get it in the mid 80’s when they were still relatively affordable. Mine is 440-6bbl, 4speed, track pak car. Absolutely love these cars and their place in automotive history. Love my particular car and FYI for those wondering or speculating, it’s an incredible kick to drive – I can attest that the aerodynamics work well and are quite effective at speed – something unique for cars of the time and only in the USA. Anyone interested, there’s a good and very interesting book on the SuperBirds and Daytonas by Steve Lehto that really explains the design, development and production of these cars. Thanks for listening and happy barn finding to everyone.

    4
  33. Troy s

    These cars did exactly what they were supposed to do… allow Plymouth to lay waste any Ford or Mercury in site on the high banks of NASCAR. Rules are rules so they had to offer these in limited numbers to the public. Otherwise these exotic oddballs would have never been on the highways. No way.
    Same with the Dodge Daytona
    Ford Torino Talledega
    Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II
    Or the ugliest of all, the King Cobra,,although I don’t know if Ford actually built any outside of the prototype.
    No matter, the glory was short lived with these winged warriors.

    2
    • Tom Member

      Amen and AMEN Brother Troy !!!! WELL SAID !! Very well said.

      1

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