Photos by David Newhardt, courtesy Mecum Auctions.
Built for NASCAR homologation purposes, Plymouth’s 1970-only Superbird proved to be a tough sell to consumers. By the mid-1970s, most dealers were doing all they could to get these “Winged Warriors” off their lots, but one Kansas dealership understood that the limited-production car would one day be collectible. It kept the blue ’Bird until 1989, selling the previously untitled car with 208 miles on the odometer; 26 years later, the all-original, two-owner 1970 Plymouth Superbird is up for grabs again at Mecum’s January Kissimmee, Florida, sale.
VIN RM23U0A167071 was built at the Plymouth Assembly Plant on Lynch Road in Detroit, and delivered new to Sampson Motors in Junction City, Kansas, in December of 1969. It didn’t stay on the lot for long, and in March of 1970 it was driven 90 miles to Nemaha Motors in
Junction City Seneca, Kansas. Perhaps understanding that the Superbird was one of just 1,935 produced (per the March 2007 Buyer’s Guide published in Hemmings Muscle Machines), the dealership retained possession for the next 19 years, displaying the car in its indoor showroom and reserving it for the occasional parade or special appearance.
As delivered, the car came with the 440 Super Commando V-8, fed by a single Carter four-barrel carburetor and rated at 375 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque. Shifting was handled by a three-speed TorqueFlite automatic (with a column shift), and power was sent to the pavement via the A36 Performance Axle Package, which consisted of the Sure Grip differential fitted with 3.55:1 gearing. As for options, the Superbird came with tinted windows ($25.90) and Rallye wheels ($43.10), stickering out at $4,454, including destination charge.
It’s not clear how much William Carney paid for the car when he purchased it in 1989, but it’s safe to assume it was more than the sticker price. Later, the Plymouth became part of Wayne Schmeekle’s impressive muscle car collection, which centers on the years between 1967 and 1971 and includes prime choices from all of Detroit’s big three automakers, as well as Shelby American.
As photographed for the Kissimmee sale, the Superbird’s odometer reads just 671 miles, and four-plus decades of indoor storage has been kind to the car. The original paint still carries a high gloss, and the original interior looks to be in showroom-fresh condition. The rear seat belts are still wrapped in plastic, and the factory-provided “Starting Tips” hang tag is even part of the sale.
Schmeekle will be offering a total of 23 muscle cars for sale in Kissimmee, and his reasons for downsizing seem to mirror those of Ron Pratte, who sold off his collection in January of 2015. As Schmeekle told Mecum Auctions:
I think we’re always going to continue to be in the collector market,” he says. “But a little bit of it is just changing the wallpaper, and we’d like to maybe let some other collectors enjoy these cars. We’ll continue to look around also, but of the cars that we have, we’ve actually upgraded and upgraded until we finally got what we felt were the best cars with the best documentation available.
Given that this may be among the best-preserved and most original Plymouth Superbirds in existence, the lack of a 426 Hemi V-8 beneath the hood may have less of an impact on value than one might expect. Mecum is predicting a selling price between $300,000 – $450,000 when the car crosses the auction stage on Friday, January 22.
For further details on the Kissimmee sale, visit Mecum.com.