Written by independent automotive journalist David Neyens
Wildly popular from its inception in 1948, the NASCAR stock-car racing circuit is home to some of the fiercest racing anywhere in the world. It pits automobile manufacturers and their racing teams against one another in likely the ultimate application of the “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” spirit. By the mid-1960s, Chrysler and Ford Motor Company were the only real top-level NASCAR adversaries, and their shared commitment to dominance on the track resulted in some of the fastest and most outrageous racing and road cars ever produced.
Engine development reached a zenith by 1966, with NASCAR imposing a displacement limit on Chrysler’s 426 HEMI engine and a weight factor on Ford’s SOHC 427 cars. Racers and engineers in both camps realized that raw horsepower was no longer sufficient to win, dictating a new emphasis on high-speed aerodynamics. Plymouth stalwart Richard Petty may have won 27 of 49 races during the 1968 NASCAR campaign in his HEMI-powered Plymouth Satellite, but the manufacturer’s archrival Ford enticed him to switch camps to a sleeker, purpose-built Torino Talladega for 1969.
While the more specialized Dodge Charger 500 from 1969 was a definite improvement for Chrysler teams, more drastic measures were required to prevail over Ford. Using the latest wind-tunnel test data gained at Lockheed Martin’s Georgia wind tunnel and model testing at Wichita State University, Chrysler engineers devised a more radical solution: the Dodge Charger Daytona. Featuring a bullet-style extended steel nose cone, chin spoiler, pop-up headlamp and an outrageous but effective rear wing atop tall aircraft-style stabilizers, the Daytona sliced through the air and, in racing trim, rewrote history as the first NASCAR competitor to break the 200-mph barrier. Just enough of these cars, 503 in all, were produced in time to qualify the wild Mopar to race and, when it debuted late in ’69 at the formidable new Talladega Superspeedway, the Daytona scored its first NASCAR win with driver Richard Brickhouse.
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, in order to race — giving the Superbird a new lease on life. Unknown to many enthusiasts, the Road Runner-based Superbird was quite different from the Charger-based Daytona, with no interchangeable body parts other than the hood and front fenders from the B-body Coronet. A textured vinyl roof covering hid the revised rear-window seams and the Superbird’s rear wing was even taller than the Daytona’s, with the stabilizers/supports raked further back than those of Chrysler’s car. Encouraged by the Superbird’s potential for speed, Petty returned to the Plymouth fold for 1970. While he did not win the 1970 NASCAR Grand National championship, he did score eight of Plymouth’s 21 victories in 1970.
Nearly four times more Superbirds were built than the Daytona, with Superbird production reaching 1,935 cars — all constructed between October 23 and December 15, 1969. Given its hefty pricing, specialized nature and wild looks, the Superbird was a slow seller, with many of the outlandish, extremely specialized cars often taking several years to finally leave dealer lots. Today, those very characteristics make the rare Superbird one of the most collectible and unforgettable American high-performance cars ever built.
As with the Charger Daytona before it, the Superbird was available with a choice of the formidable 375-horsepower 440ci V8 engine, the 390-horsepower Six-Barrel 440ci V8 engine or the 425-horsepower 426 Street HEMI engine with a dual 4-barrel carburetor. Only 716 Superbirds left the factory with the wicked yet easily maintained V-Code 440ci Six-Barrel V8 engine, including this fresh, 2-year rotisserie-restored example completed in 2021. A coveted matching-numbers vehicle, this immensely collectible specimen is rarer still as one of just 408 equipped with Chrysler’s renowned TorqueFlite automatic transmission. This outstanding Superbird is finished in B5 Blue paint with black accents and retains all its original body panels with the sole exception of the rear quarter panels. The new, period-correct white interior includes a no-nonsense front bench seat and column-mounted shift lever. An AM radio, power-assisted brakes and power steering deliver cruising with ease.
Classic Mopar expert Dave Wise has inspected this rare, matching-numbers Superbird, and it comes to the October 20-22 Houston Auction with a Wise Vehicle Validation Report, restoration receipts and a listing in the MMC Detroit Global Registry.
Join us in Texas to see this pristine Superbird, and many other spectacular Chrysler and Ford vehicles, cross the auction block with No Reserve. Register to bid today to be part of the action.
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