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Too ugly

And NASCAR said they were too fast

Bob Meigs' 1970 Superbird. "They’re worth about $150,000 today.”
Bob Meigs' 1970 Superbird. "They’re worth about $150,000 today.”

“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.

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Bob Meigs' 1970 Superbird. "They’re worth about $150,000 today.”
Bob Meigs' 1970 Superbird. "They’re worth about $150,000 today.”

“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.

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Comments
7

This is the first time I ever saw a photo of one of those cars. "Too ugly" is an apt description. There were some real excesses in that era with cars, and some were laughable. I'd wonder how many Superbirds are still around; they aren't something that pleases my eye. Do others react the same as I do?

May 18, 2018

About 3 or 4 years ago, I was at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale and saw one hammer at $500K. I know of a couple others since then selling for around $250K and the most recent one that I have seen, a few weeks ago in Houston, was a 440 6pack rather than a Hemi, that went for about $190k. If I remember correctly, the info I saw at B-J said that the factory had produced 1935 for US sales and an additional 50 or so were ordered thru Canadian dealers. Best guesses are that somewhere around 1200 or so original factory productions cars are still around. A couple of corrections to what was written in the story. The "1 car per 2 dealers" requirement was put in place for 1970, because of the "aero cars". Prior to that it was simply 500 vehicles available from dealers. Because the Ford Torino Talladega and the Dodge Charger Daytona were only produced in 1969, they fell under the 500 unit rule, not the 1 per 2 dealer rule as noted. Also, the Superbirds ran a 426 Hemi in NASCAR. The 427 side oiler was a Ford engine. And after 1970, the decrease in engine displacement was to no more than 305 cubic inches, not 312 as mentioned. At just over 18 feet, the street version of the car was less than 20 inches longer than the standard Roadrunner, I would discount the claim that it was too long to fit in a garage. All small details, but I have always felt that if one can't get the little things right, how can they be trusted with the really important stuff.

May 19, 2018

Mike Murphy, Really?? Apparently, only you would say that.

May 19, 2018

Dan, Yes, a rather clichéd remark he made, and not based on fact. Just ignore his nescient rants.

May 19, 2018

you need to stop by and introduce yourself some time.

May 19, 2018

They did a entire series, Graveyard Cars, on Discovery Channel’s Velocity on Mopar cars and some on the Superbird itself. The restoration work on that show is immaculate.

May 19, 2018
This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.
Oct. 23, 2018

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