The 24 cars of Christmas would not be complete without including the biggest attention- getting device of the ’69-70 era-the winged warriors known as the Daytona and Superbird.
These cars were only designed for one thing- the NASCAR track.
‘Any questions about how effective these winged monsters were on the track simply vanished when King Richard Petty left Plymouth for Ford because the Roadrunners were like bricks compared to their Dodge Daytona cousins.’
Enter the Superbird in 1970.
The stakes got higher when these Hemi-powered freaks started nudging the 220 mile per hour range. Meanwhile, Ford was working on its own aerodynamic battle plan.
NASCAR took a deep breath,stepped in and limited the big wing cars to smaller engines-goodbye Daytona, goodbye Superbird…
But that’s a history lesson with all the clinical detachment and warmth of a medical textbook-the real experience came when you saw a Daytona or Superbird in action. In my case this happened on a major highway near my hometown back in 1973.
I was in a car doing 75 miles per hour when this wild-looking car went by in the fast lane. It was sucked down so low from the speed that it was almost scraping the asphalt. This was literally one of those “felt like I was standing still” moments. It stayed in sight for less than a minute but one thing was clear-that was a Superbird and it was easily pushing long past 150 mph.
A true Wile E. Coyote-esque moment…beep beep, a puff of smoke and the Roadrunner is over the cartoon horizon and in the next county.
You have to put that early 1970s Superbird experience in perspective because now these cars are worth more than three houses in Phoenix. Nobody drug and/or alcohol free would put an investment like a wing car in jeopardy on a major highway in 2010.
But in 1973, dealers could barely give wing cars away thanks to a nasty game of “let’s hold the world hostage” from OPEC. The guy pounding on the Superbird back in ’73 only had a few K tied up in his car- nothing to lose and if he thought he was driving a future investment, it was only for millisecond because…he was too busy trying to keep the Bird on the road–not lifting into the air.
The Mopar wing cars have become the domain of high-end investors-that’s unlikely to change, but seeing one at full throttle back in 73 had only one value…
Priceless. Merry Christmas.
Jerry Sutherland @mystarcollectorcar.com
Feel free to browse our extensive collection of articles from the frontlines of the old car hobby at www.mystarcollectorcar.com
JIM:”I had a chance to buy one in 1975 for $1,200 dollars, but it had a cracked windshield and gas being as high as it was — I passed. I’m crying now……..
Thanks for the memory. one of my favorite cars.”
LILI:”nothing like a Superbird going by you when you are doing about 80 in your Mach1 with its wheezy 351 2v and the bird is doing about 140! oh ya,, interstate 35 south of Minneapolis 1971!!about an hour ago”.
JOHN:”The Super birds & the Daytonas were sure a trip back in the early 70’s.I had a friend who had one,we thought he’d kill himself. He got really pissed when we would hang towels on the wing at the beach!