“They were considered ugly and too expensive,” says Bob Meigs, of his rare 1970 Plymouth Superbird.
Meigs, a Solana Beach collector of classic cars, is the car show coordinator for the San Diego County Fair. He proudly showed off his car at a fair preview on May 16.
“Some of the NASCAR-styled Superbirds muscle cars sat in dealer’s showroom for up to two years. Back then the cars sold for up to $5,000. They were too long to fit in most garages of the day,” said Meigs.
“Only 1,920 Superbirds were manufactured, and only for one year,” said Meigs. Back then, NASCAR required their racecars to be production cars, able to be purchased by the public at a dealer’s showroom. In order to qualify as a NASCAR an auto manufacturer had to make one vehicle for every two of their car dealers, just as Dodge had to do with its racecar production of the Charger Daytona, and Ford Torino with its Talladega model.
The Superbirds raced only in 1970, because NASCAR said they were too fast. They restricted the use of the 427-cubic-inch engine. Chrysler couldn’t run the heavy car fast enough with its smaller 312, so the muscle car was pulled from production, advised Meigs.
“The real reason Plymouth made the Superbird was to get Richard Petty back in the Mopar stable,” said Meigs. Petty had switched to Ford in 1969, thinking Plymouth wasn’t as competitive on the super oval tracks. He rejoined the Chrysler team in 1970 with the introduction of Superbird’s sleek styling — a protruding, aerodynamic nosecone with a high-mounted rear wing.
Meigs bought his in 1980, long before, what he says was the 2008 run-up caused by the internationally known Barrett Jackson auctions. “They got as high as $200,000. They’ve settled down since. They’re worth about $150,000 today,” said Meigs.
Each day of the fair’s 26-day run, Meig’s has a different San Diego car club scheduled to show off their classic vehicles at the pedestrian “crossover” going from the midway into Kiddieland.