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Outlawed!-number 8 In A Series Of 12


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#1 LUKE'57

LUKE'57

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 03:05 PM

OUTLAWED!-Number 8 In a Series Of 12

There had been some creative bodywork in the sixties in the search of speed on the big ovals. It was said that Bud Moore cut an inch or two out the beltline and two or three inches straight down the center of his '64 Mercurys to make them a little more "equal" to the smaller cars he had to run against.

And there were some very liberal interpretation as to how much the car at the dealership was supposed to resemble the racer on pit road as the sixties progressed. A certain yellow '66 Galaxie at the Atlanta race with a former Yankee carpenter in the driver's seat and a mountain based poultry producer on the quarter panels comes to mind.

But the gloves really came off during the '69-'70 seasons with the debut of the first of the Mopar Aerowarriors. First came the Charger 500 with a reworked rear window area and a flush mounted Coronet grille. Ford couldn't let that go by so they came out with a new front snout using a modified rear bumper and some fender extensions that made the already sleek Torinos and Cyclones positively slick.

Dodge was the first Mopar to unveil the really big gun when they rolled out the new winged, drop snooted Daytona and it was on. Petty wanted to switch from Plymouth to the new Daytona and Mopar said no. Ford made an offer and sweetened it with a new Talladega all decked out in Petty Blue and the unthinkable happened. The promotional hay to be made while the sun shined on a Petty Ford was anything but petty.

There was nothing to do but put the plans into play to get the Randleman Rocket back in a Plymouth where he belonged. The stylists and engineers were called into service and they delivered the goods.

While the Daytona was sort of an "eyeball engineering" project to just go fast, the Superbird was the whole package- styling, engineering and graphics. Not to mention the fact that Nascar had changed the minimums for a "limited edition" car for the '70 racing season.

The new Superbird was more of a total package than the Daytona but was still accomplished about the same way. A new extended nose and hood, a rear window "plug" and a huge wing on the rear and the Road Runner became a Superbird. Due to the fact that the backlight "plug" had some fit and finish issues, all the street versions had vinyl roofs to help hide where the roof had been modified.

About the only real fly in the ointment was that pesky new minimum unit requirement that Nascar had instated to help curb the "funny car" invasion. Instead of 500 unit like the Fords, Mercurys and Dodges, Plymouth had to build two for each dealership which meant that instead of 500 units there had to build about three times that many. Chrysler bit the bullet and built them and that's why you see more Superbirds than Daytonas now and why Petty only ran the Ford for one season.

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Here's the SuperBird of Ramo Stott that he started 15th and drove to an 8th place finish in the '70 Daytona 500. While his multi colored 'Bird was winging its way to a solid finish there was another 'Bird in the familiar Petty blue fighting it out with a familiar blue and gold championship winning Ford up front. The "blue bird" would win the race and add a new Yankee winner to the "Great American Race" when Pete Hamilton held off Pearson for the win wearing a number 40 instead of the familiar 43 of his new boss. But while he didn't win, Ramo's 'Bird would still be the most colorful in the new Mopar "aviary".

But even with all the effort and money put into the "Winged Warriors" a series of rule changes would make them but a memory after little more than a year in competition and it would take 36 years and the advent of the "Car of Tomorrow" for the winged cars to once again run in the Nascar division.