Today we have a Johnny Lightning 1970 Plymouth Superbird in Vitamin C Orange. This colour is usually referred to as Hemi Orange, but the name Plymouth used for this colour was actually Vitamin C Orange; Hemi Orange was the name for the Dodge orange.
With the success of the Dodge Charger Daytona in NASCAR, along with the other aero warriors like the fastback Ford Torinos and Mercury Cyclones, Plymouth had to create its own winged version in 1970.
Thus, the Superbird was born to compete with its brother, Dodge’s Daytona, but also to get Richard Petty back from Ford. The basis for the Superbird was the Road Runner, and the nose, airfoil, and basic sheet metal was different between the Daytona and Superbird. The Superbird used front fenders from the ’70 Dodge Coronet that helped lead to a better nose design that was 19-inches longer than the base Road Runner. The trunk wing was more angled, and higher, than the Daytonas. The wing was not needed at normal highway speeds, but was designed for the speedways.
Because of the gawky look consumer response was lukewarm, leading to some dealers removing the wing and nose.
NASCAR only required 500 copies to be built in 1969, but in 1970, they required each dealer to receive at least one. In the end, Plymouth built a total of 1,935 Superbirds in the US, with anywhere from 34-47 being shipped to Canada.
It was available to the public with the Super Commando 440, the 440-6 Barrel, and the elusive 426 Hemi, which only a few buyers drove away with.
Despite the success of the Superbirds on the track, they only lasted one year for the public.
Interesting to note is the reason for such a tall spoiler was for trunk access. In aerodynamic tests, the spoiler only needed to be as high as the roofline.
Engine choices were, in order of popularity, the 440 4-barrel, the 440-6 Barrel and the 426 Hemi. The only metric where the Superbird outperformed it’s “lesser” sibling the Roadrunner, was in top speed. The regular Roadrunner actually out-accelerated the Superbird because of the added weight penalty from the extended nose and huge wing.
Super Commando 440, 1x4bbl: 375 hp, 480 lb-ft
440-6 Barrel, 3x2bbl: 390 hp, 490 lb-ft
426 Hemi, 2x4bbl: 425 hp, 490 lb-ft
727 TorqueFlite Auto (std)
A833 4-Speed Manual (Optional)
Performance (426 Hemi)
0 TO 60 mph 5.5 sec
Qtr Mile 14.26 sec @ 103.7 mph
440 4-BBL Auto — 618
440 4-BBL 4-Speed — 466
440 6-BBL Auto — 408
440 6-BBL 4-Speed — 308
426 Auto — 77
426 4-Speed — 58