Plymouth Road Runner Superbird Super Commando 440 Six Pack V-code

Car producer : 

Plymouth

Model:

Road Runner Superbird Super Commando 440 Six Pack V-code

Year:

1970

Type:

Coupe



Nineteen-seventy brought new front and rear end looks to the basic 1968 body, and it would prove to be another success. Updates included a new grille, a cloth & vinyl bench seat, hood, front fenders, quarter panels, single-piston Kelsey-Hayes disc brakes (improved from the rather small-rotor Bendix 4 piston calipers of '68 - '69 ), and even non-functional scoops in the rear quarters. The design and functionality of the Air Grabber option was changed this year to increase both efficiency and the "intimidation factor". A switch below the dash actuated a vacuum servo to slowly raise the forward-facing scoop, exposing shark-like teeth on either side. "High Impact" colors, with names like In-Violet, Moulin Rouge, and Vitamin C, were options available for that year. The 1970 Road Runner and GTX continued to be attractive and popular cars. The engine lineup was left unchanged although a heavy-duty three-speed manual became the standard transmission, relegating the four-speed to the option list along with the TorqueFlite automatic. This was to be the second and last year of the Road Runner convertible, with only 834 made. These cars are considered more valuable than the 1969 version due to a better dash, high impact colors and more options including the new high-back bucket seats shared with other Chrysler products which featured built-in headrests.

The relatively popular 440 Six Barrel was relegated to option status for 1970. The 1969 "M" Code Edelbrock aluminum intake was replaced by a factory-produced cast iron piece; however there were some early cars built prior to January 1, 1970 that were equipped with the left over aluminum Edelbrock intake from the year prior.

This would also be the last year of the Road Runner convertible with 834 total production. Only 3 Hemi (R) code Road Runner convertibles were built (plus 1 to CANADA). The declining sales of Road Runner and other muscle cars were the result of a move by insurance companies to add surcharges for muscle car policies - making insurance premiums for high-performance vehicles a very expensive proposition. Also, Plymouth introduced another bargain-basement muscle car for 1970, the compact Duster 340 which was powered by a 275 hp (205 kW) 340 4BBL V8 which in the lighter-weight compact A-body could perform as well if not better than a 383 Road Runner. Furthermore, the Duster 340 was priced even lower than the Road Runner and its smaller engine qualified it for much lower insurance rates.

Developed specifically for NASCAR racing, the Superbird, a modified Road Runner, was Plymouth's follow-on design to the Charger Daytona fielded by sister company Dodge in the previous season. The Charger 500 version that began the 1969 season was the first American car to be designed aerodynamically using a wind tunnel and computer analysis, and later was modified into the Daytona version with nose and tail. The Superbird's smoothed-out body and nosecone were further refined from that of the Daytona, and the street version's retractable headlights (made of fiberglass) added nineteen inches to the Road Runner's original length. The rear wing was mounted on tall vertical struts that put it into less disturbed air thus increasing the efficiency of the downdraft that it placed upon the car's rear axle. For nearly 30 years the mathematic formula used to determine the exact height of the enormous wing was thought to be a highly guarded Chrysler secret. It should be noted that by a co-incidence the height of the wing was at the optimum level for maximum downforce. The rear-facing fender scoops were to hide cut outs. These cutouts were to allow wheel clearance due to the larger, wider wheels and lowered height of the vehicle for NASCAR. On Daytona’s, the scoops were actually for ventilating trapped air from the wheel wells in order to reduce under fender air pressure and lift. For standard road going Superbirds the covers or "air extractors" were a cosmetic enhancement, for looks only. Ground clearance was 7.2 inches (18 centimeters).

NASCAR's homologation requirement demanded that vehicles to be raced must be available to the general public and sold through dealerships in specific minimum numbers. For 1970, NASCAR raised the production requirement from 500 examples to one for every two manufacturer's dealers in the United States; in the case of Plymouth, that meant having to build 1,920 Superbirds. Due to increasing emissions regulations, combined with insurance hikes for high performance cars and NASCAR's effective ban on the aero cars, 1970 was its only production year.

"Superbird" decals were placed on the outside edges of the spoiler vertical struts featuring a picture of the Road Runner cartoon character holding a racing helmet. A smaller version of the decal appears on the driver side headlight door. Superbirds had three engine options: the 426 Hemi V8 engine, the 440 Super Commando with a single 4-barrel carburetor, or the 440 Super Commando Six Barrel with three two-barrel carburetors. Only 135 models were fitted with the 426 Hemi. As the 440 was less expensive to produce, the "Street" version of the 426 Hemi engine used in competition was homologated by producing the minimum number required.

On the street, the nose cone and wing were very distinctive, but the aerodynamic improvements hardly made a difference there or on the drag strip. In fact, the 1970 Road Runner was actually quicker in the quarter mile and standard acceleration tests due to the increased weight of the Superbird's nose and wing. Only at speeds in excess of 60 mph (97 km/h) did the modifications show any benefit.

Chrysler memos of September 1969 show that the Sales Programming staff was preparing to handle 1,920 winged Plymouths for 1970, but published figures say as many as 2,783 were built. The current figure generally accepted is 1,935 SuperBirds built and shipped to United States dealers, with anywhere from 34 to 47 allegedly heading towards Canada. The engine option question is again a sticky one, although the most frequently seen numbers report 135 426ci. Hemi SuperBirds and 716 440ci. Six-Pack editions, with the remainder powered by 440ci. 4bbl. motors. It is believed that over 1,000 Plymouth SuperBirds exist today.

The Superbird's styling proved to be a little extreme for 1970 tastes (many customers preferred the regular Road Runner), and as a consequence, many of the 1,920 examples built sat unsold on the back lots of dealerships as late as 1972. Some were converted into 1970 Road Runners to move them off the sales lot.

The Superbird and the Dodge Charger Daytona were each built for one model year only (1970 and 1969 respectively).

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