By Dave Ashton
An all-original 426 Hemi V8 1970 Plymouth Superbird sold at Barrett Jackson, Las Vegas recently for the record price of $1.65 million. This new auction price beat the last sale record for a Superbird which went for $990,000 last January. This new sale also beat the 1969 Dodge Daytona auction price of $1.3 million.
A bit of back history
The Plymouth Superbird, along with the very similar Dodge Daytona was not exactly an immediate hit with the public when they first went on sale. The Superbird was originally designed to win at NASCAR races, developed from the Road Runner model of the times. The concept wasn’t to just slap a long nose, and a 2-foot rear spoiler on a Road Runner, but to make the most aerodynamic vehicle of its time. Most likely one of the first vehicles to be tested with computer and wind tunnel tests.
To be allowed to enter these vehicles into official races, a certain amount of roadgoing vehicles had to be available for sale. For 1970, 1,920 Superbirds were sold for $4,300. The problem at the time was the design was a bit too wacky for most people’s tastes. Therefore, many of these vehicles stayed on dealer’s lots only to be snapped up later by those in the know. Also, insurance and emission regulations of the time didn’t help, steering people away from what was thought of at the time as gas guzzlers.
With an estimated 1,000 examples left in the world, with the 426 Hemi V8 being the most sought-after (only 135 examples with a 426 Hemi), it’s not a surprise they can fetch hefty sums.
But it’s not just about the scarcity of the vehicles, but also their racing pedigree and famous driver associations. NASCAR racing hero Richard Petty was one such driver, taking a Superbird to 200+ mph in 1970. Even in 2016, there are videos online of a Superbird hitting a quarter-mile in 11 seconds at 124mph, that’s even keeping up with a modern Corvette C8.
Fast forward to the modern-day, and the Plymouth Superbird is seen for its motoring heritage and rarity. At the cheapest end of the scale, you still have to part with around $250k for a good example. Even tribute versions based on other vehicles can fetch what we have seen recently $128k. Once you get into the territory of a low mileage example, all original, with a 426 Hemi V8 engine, that’s when you start hitting very big numbers.
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