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Two-owner Plymouth Superbird flies high at Owls Head New England Auto Auction

Published in blog.hemmings.com

1970 Plymouth Superbird. Photos courtesy Owls Head Transportation Museum.

According to the latest NADA guide, high retail for a 1970 Plymouth Superbird built with the U-code engine (a 440 topped by a single four-barrel carburetor) is $173,400. At the recent Owls Head New England Auto Auction, one such 1970 Plymouth Superbird, a numbers-matching, two-owner car, upgraded to the 440 Six Barrel intake manifold, carburetors, and air cleaner at the time of original delivery, sold for a fee-inclusive $187,000, a testament to its condition and well-documented history.

1970 Plymouth Superbird

1970 Plymouth Superbird

Sold new in September 1970, the Superbird’s original owner wanted more performance than the 375-horsepower 440 Magnum V-8 offered. At delivery, he requested the dealer upgrade the Plymouth to 440 Six Barrel specifications, which would have delivered 390 horsepower, except for the fact that the V-code engine (the factory 440 Six Barrel) used stronger connecting rods and different pistons. The U-code engine had a compression ratio of 9.7:1, while the V-code had a compression ratio of 10.5:1, and it isn’t likely the dealer changed engine internals when changing the intake manifold, carburetor, and air cleaner.

1970 Plymouth Superbird

1970 Plymouth Superbird

Parts removed by the original dealer at the time of sale were included with the car.

This is also documented by the original parts included with the car, like the dual-snorkel air cleaner from the factory, four-barrel carburetor setup, the carburetor itself, and an as-new intake manifold (but no connecting rods or pistons). With the car’s performance so enhanced, its new owner made the journey from Clift Chrysler-Plymouth in Knoxville, Tennessee, to his home in Indiana. And for the next 35 years, held onto his beloved ’bird, the 29th example constructed. The sale included not only documentation on the original purchase (the dealership bill of sale, bank correspondence, canceled checks, finance documentation, and warranty cards), but Indiana registrations from 1970-’96 and corresponding Indiana safety-inspection documents. The car was described as “one of the most documented examples available today,” and the paperwork would seem to support this claim.

1970 Plymouth Superbird

Though never fully restored, the car did receive a single repaint in the original color in 1996. In 2005, it sold in a private transaction to a Mopar collector, meaning that the Owls Head sale was the first time this Plymouth was available to the general public since leaving Clift Chrysler-Plymouth in 1970. The Superbird failed to reach the pre-auction estimate ($210,000-$260,000, which may have valued the car as a factory 440 Six Barrel), but the price achieved was at the top of the range for a factory 440 four-barrel example.

1957 Dual Ghia

1957 Dual-Ghia.

Other lots in the Owls Head top-10 included a 1957 Dual-Ghia (featured in the Hemmings Daily), which sold for $275,000; a 1989 Porsche 930 Turbo, which sold for $130,900; a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette, which sold for $123,200; a 1958 Porsche 356A, which sold for $107,250; a 1932 Garwood Runabout, which sold for $82,500; a 1940 Cadillac 75 Fleetwood, which sold for $74,250; a 1967 Sunbeam Tiger (also featured in the Hemmings Daily), which sold for $73,700; a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS Custom, which  sold for $72,600; and a 1967 Porsche 912, which sold for $69,300.

1955 Nash Statesman

1955 Nash Statesman (with air conditioner attached).

More affordable lots of interest included a 1940 Plymouth Deluxe, which sold for $9,900; a 1970 Lincoln Continental, with 21,000 miles on the odometer, which sold for $9,900; a 1950 Oldsmobile Futuramic 88, which sold for $9,350; a 1961 Cadillac Sedan de Ville, which sold for $9,350; a 1969 Chevrolet Corvair Monza convertible, which sold for $8,250; a 1979 Volkswagen Super Beetle convertible, with less than 16,000 miles, which sold for $8,030; a 1965 Sunbeam Alpine, which sold for $7,975; a 1955 Nash Statesman, which sold for $5,830; a 1946 Willys CJ2A, which sold for $5,000; and a 1984 Pontiac Fiero Indy Pace Car replica, with less than 29,000 miles, which sold for $4,600.

In total, the two-day event — which helps raise funds for the Owls Head Transportation Museum — saw 178 vehicles sold, totaling more than $4.3 million. For complete results, visit OwlsHead.org.