Many of us have had our car buddies over for backyard barbecues this summer, but none of them resembled the gathering at the home of Doug Schellinger of New Berlin, Wisconsin, president of the Daytona/Superbird Auto Club.
What began as a casual picnic with a half-dozen cars over twenty years ago peaked this year with 30 participants, and some interesting special guests. This year the event was joined by the 1972 Sunoco AAR Eagle Indy car and a vintage-raced Group 6 Jaguar E-Type Bob Tullius replica.
DSAC was started by Doug’s dad Monroe Schellinger in 1975. After some consideration about which cars might someday become collectable, the elder Schellinger purchased a Limelight Green 1970 Plymouth Superbird from a private owner in the fall of 1972 for $1620. By Superbird standards the car was pretty common, sporting the 440 V-8, 4 bbl. motor with bench seat and column shift automatic. The car had 8600 miles on it and was in as-new condition, complete with a pair of Polyglas GT studded snow tires.
After buying the winged marvel, the question then became, “What do you do with it?” In 1975, he approached a local lady who owned a Daytona, and then ran an ad in Hemmings soliciting members for the new club. The response to the ad was successful, and 40 years later DSAC is still going strong. After Monroe’s passing in 1993, Doug inherited the car and the club, and started a memorial gathering each summer.
A Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II in the Cale Yarborough Special paint scheme, next to a Royal Maroon Ford Talladega.
The club now welcomes all the aerodynamic cars of that 1969-1970 era, including the non-winged Ford Talladega, the Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II, and the Charger 500. “Had it not been for the Fords, the Mopar wing cars would have never happened,” said Schellinger. “They were bullets in the wind.”
Making an appearance was driver Ramo Stott of Keokuk, Iowa, who piloted the #7 car for the Superbird team at Daytona and Talladega between 1970-1972. Stott’s driving career ran from 1955 to 1990, and he was the 1970 and 1971 ARCA Series Champion, the 1975 USAC Stock Car Champion, and the 1976 Daytona 500 Pole Sitter. Stott’s #7 Superbird is now owned by Schellinger, and it’s the only team car still wearing its original sheet metal.
Still the showman: former USAC and NASCAR driver Ramo Stott.
Stott, from an era when drivers were also showmen, arrived in his 1968 IMCA Series drivers uniform and trademark hat. Someone asked the spry driver, now 82, if he could still get in and out of the welded-door stock car. Reports Schellinger: “From across the yard, I hear my car start up. By the time I realize what is happening and get over there, he’s got it shut off, the crowd is applauding, and he is climbing back out.”
Mike Borkowski’s 1970 Superbird.
Mike Borkowski of Muskego, Wisconsin bought his Tor-Red Superbird new at Kennedy Chrysler-Plymouth in Milwaukee in September of 1970. Just home from the Navy and newly married, Mike had been asking around at dealers about a new Superbird when he found this one sitting out back at Kennedy. The dealer was anxious to sign a contract on the car, but Mike had only five dollars in his pocket for downpayment. “That’ll do,” replied the salesman. Mike paid full sticker price for it, but after 46 years, he gets the last laugh.
The car now shows 27,000 miles and still wears original paint. The window tint, mags and pinstriping are all Day 2 add-ons. He drove it daily for two years, including the day he brought his oldest daughter home from the hospital in it. The car is 440 4-speed with a 6-Pack and headers added in period by Magnum Speed Shop in Milwaukee.
Chuck Porter’s 1970 Superbird.
Chuck Porter of Franklin, Wisconsin has owned his Limelight Green Superbird since 1976. A buddy had money problems, so Chuck’s grandmother fronted the $4,500 to cover the friend’s debt, and Chuck eventually wound up with the car. Grandma was quite the loanshark! Today, it has a fresh 440 running an Atomic EFI throttle body package.
With about 500 current members, the Daytona/Superbird Auto Club is looking towards the future and the 50th anniversary of the aero cars in 2019. Over 100 cars are expected to make the trek to Talladega for the celebration. In the meantime, these birds of a feather will continue to flock every summer in Doug’s front yard.
William Hall is a writer, collector and classic car broker based in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.