One of the better stories to come out of the American automobile industry during the latter portion of the 1960s is that of the Plymouth Road Runner. What’s not to like about a real muscle car that could get the quarter mile in under 14 seconds while setting you back less than three grand? Plus, as a bonus, you get a car that is named after one of your favorite cartoon characters. How can you beat that?
It was indeed a coup in retrospect when you learn that the Plymouth division of Chrysler had to fork over all of $50,000 to Warner Brothers for the rights to the name and likeness of the Road Runner. This gave the car instant name recognition, a visual image to go along with it, and a built in ad campaign. All in all, it was a very good idea, and the public responded. Plymouth would have been happy if they sold 2,000 1968 Road Runners; in fact, they were able to move about 45,000 of them.
Sales in 1969 rose to some 82,000 units, and by 1970 Plymouth was ready to develop a Road Runner for the NASCAR circuit, and this car was name the Superbird. NASCAR had a rule that is called homologation requiring cars that are built for racing be offered in street legal versions to the public. The exact amount the rule required varied according to the number of dealerships the manufacturer had relationships with. In the case of the Superbird, the required production for public consumption was 1920 units.
The Plymouth Superbird was offered with one of three different engine options. There was the 440 Commando; the 440 Super Commando; and the 426 Hemi. Of the three, collectors will want to note that the 426 Hemi is the rarest of the bunch as just 135 specimens were produced.
The fact is that the Superbird was not popular with the public, and even though they were built in such small numbers, many of them sat on lots unsold in 1970. As a result, they were only produced for that one model year. These days, anyone who decided against a Superbird back in 1970 may be kicking themselves a bit. Superbirds are generally valued at around $70,000 on average, and they have fetched as much as a quarter of a million dollars.
Contributed by Fossil Cars Staff Writer