A Georgia muscle car collector has a Vitamin C Orange 1970 Plymouth Superbird with Richard Petty provenance written all over it. Not only does it have the NASCAR legend’s signature, the owner says it was sold to him personally at Petty Enterprises in Randleman, North Carolina in 1970. This car has some muscle car history to tell.
The collector says it is time to sell his pride and joy, a 1970 Plymouth Superbird which he bought new. (You can view his ad for the Vitamin C Orange 1970 Plymouth Superbird at this link on the Cars-On-Line.com website.) It is still all original and in very nice condition. In fact, it took top honors at the Syracuse Grand National in 2018. The owner says, “You would be hard pressed to find a flaw on this car.” He describes it as being a “time capsule.” He states that it is an original numbers matching car with an orignal broadcast sheet. The plastic sleeve in which he keeps the original window sticker was also signed by Richard Petty. The Petty connection is what really makes this Superbird stand out from the crowd.
The owner has had both Galen Govier, a Mopar historian, and Dave Wise, Mopar afficionado, look at the car. In the Govier report it states:
-Built November 26, 1969 at the “A” Plant
-#1360 on the NASCAR list of the 1,920 VINS that were produced
-#385 of the 671- 440 4bbl’s in the Galen Govier Registry
-one of 1,084 440 4bbl Superbirds built
-one of 626 Superbirds built that were Automatics
-#23 of 23 built w/H2XW trim
-#214 of 359 w/D32-Transmission
-#181 of 261 w/Column Shifter
-#43 of 69 w/EK2 (Vitamin C Orange) paint
-#4 of 4 with H2XW and EK2 combination
What’s more, the owner says the paint is stunning, and the car starts, idles, shifts, drives and stops as it was designed to do. He says the vinyl top and interior are gorgeous, with all lights working and glass and trim “shows like new.” It even has all of its original sheet metal and undercarriage. It shows about 60k original, documented miles. It is one of only 626 original factory 440/375 Commando big block Superbirds produced with automatic transmissions.
That all adds up to it being pretty rare. Don’t miss the ad as it is currently listed in the Mopar Muscle Car Section of the Cars-On-Line.com website.
Although it was a “one-year wonder” back in 1970, the legendary Plymouth Superbird was purpose built to win NASCAR races. And, man, did it ever. He won 18 NASCAR events out of 40 races in 1970 in his iconic Hemi Superbirds. Davey Hamilton, another driver for Petty Enterprises, won three more. With speeds approaching 200 miles per hour it may have been too fast for its own good. For the following 1971 season NASCAR felt they had to outlaw the Plymouth Superbird from competing. The rule changes they incurred made it impossible for the Superbird to compete ever again. Chryler had to abandon the “Winged Warrior” program.
In the midst of the muscle car wars the place where many skirmishes were fought was on NASCAR racetracks. Putting it gently, Ford and Chevrolet were handing Chrysler its lunch by the end of the 1960’s. It wasn’t even close. It got so bad that “the King” Richard Petty himself abdicated his Plymouth throne to move over to Ford in 1969. That may have been the final straw for Chrysler. The order came from on high that they would do anything to win in NASCAR. They even pulled a rocket scientist from their federal rocket program with the U.S. government during the space age to help design an aerodynamic car that would dominate NASCAR tracks.
One of the guys who had something to do with the design wrote in his book that the rear spoiler was raised up three feet high so you could get the trunk open on the car. Another story has it that in testing they just kept increasing the size of the spoiler, and each time they did the times got faster. They finally stopped testing at the three foot height. That became the salient feature of a car that came out of the “space age.” During testing Plymouth noticed the Superbirds were a little faster on high banked tracks where the larger wing held it more stable through the corners and improved lap times.
Fast and low with a huge nosecone in front, the Plymouth Superbird had a huge three-foot high rear spoiler (wing) to hold the rear end to the ground. A car that fast wants to get airborne. It was estimated that the Plymouth Superbird could do about 180 miles per hour in street trim. The Dodge Daytona Charger and Plymouth Superbird dominated NASCAR for an 18-month period during 1969 and 1970. It is said that they won over 75 percent of NASCAR races during that period.
Plymouth was then able to lure Richard Petty back into the fold because they came out with their Winged Car version, the 1970 Plymouth Superbird. But for 1970 NASCAR rules required that Plymouth build over 1,500 winged Superbirds for sale to the public. Less than half of the 1,920 Superbirds built at the factory actually were sold as new cars that year.
Production Superbirds sold new for $4,298, or about $1,000 more than other muscle cars of the era. But it was the extreme racing build that scared away buyers for the street versions that were offered through Plymouth dealers. It was felt that your average “Joe Public” new car buyer was not ready for a “space age” flying saucer like the Superbird.