The Plymouth Superbird is a car that came out of the aero wars of the 1969-1970 NASCAR seasons. It was only ever produced in 1970, making it a unique and exciting Chrysler creation. A modified version of the Plymouth Road Runner, it not only took driver Richard Petty to victories on Superspeedways, but eventually also made its way into a category of rare muscle car now worth $200,000 – $350,000. Though initially the cars didn’t sell well on the markets, that’s changed with car fans loving the cartoonish, exaggerated style of the Superbird. In 1971, NASCAR banned the car, due to safety rules relating to the speed, nose cone, and wing. Production ceased and the Superbird will forever be from an exclusive 1970 flock.
A Little NASCAR History for Your Auto Career
NASCAR was formed in 1948 and stands for the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing. Stock car racing began in the United States and came from prohibitionists with modified cars that looked normal, who would challenge one another to races that eventually became a sport. Stock car racing featured factory cars, with these cars becoming more and more expertly modified for racing as automotive technology advanced. Today, the sport features any production based automobile for racing.
You may recognize homologation from your automotive career as the process of approval for cars in safety and technical requirements. To compete in NASCAR races, this includes regulations on how many facsimiles of a car need to be on the market for a car to race. In 1970, NASCAR increased this number from 500 to a ratio of 1 car for every 2 dealerships.
How the Aero Wars Birthed the Plymouth Superbird
Aerodynamic design became a focal point for cars in the 1969 and 1970 seasons of NASCAR. Beasts like Ford’s Torino Talladega and Mercury’s Cyclone Spoiler II started a hugely competitive speed war where companies did everything they could to build the most bullet-like stock cars for the track. As Chrysler and Ford started to build an aggressive rivalry, the companies searched for ways to get faster.
The Superbird was built with cost in mind, and was one of the first cars in America to be tested in a wind tunnel. Regulations as well as high costs turned factories’ focus away from motor development and toward a more cost-effective area of experimentation: aerodynamics. Production was solely to satisfy the minimums for production established by NASCAR; enough Superbirds were made available to the public to meet requirements, with only 1935 made.
You’d Be Lucky to See Under this Hood in Your Automotive Career
The Plymouth Superbird has a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds, with 425 hp and 490 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is a 4-speed manual and the bird runs on a 426 Hemi V8 engine with a top speed of 322 km/h. You can identify hemi engines in your auto career by their hemispherical heads.
The 426 Hemi engine can still be found in drag races today, and was nicknamed “The Elephant” because of its size and large amount of power. Under Plymouth, it was also installed in the Road Runner, GTX, Barracuda, and Satellite. Initially, the engine was developed for the express purpose of dominating the race track, but later it showed up on the roads as well.
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