Mark Coffey’s Highly Original Plymouth Superbird Story

While the 1970 Plymouth Superbird is one of the most iconic American muscle cars, this Mopar currently lives in New Zealand. However, its owner deserves nothing but respect for preserving its originality and keeping it on the road where it belongs. See the video we put together for Mark’s Winged Warrior and read the story below.

Mark’s Plymouth Superbird has flown around the world to come to roost at the bottom of the world in New Zealand, a country better known for its flightless bird – the Kiwi. After starting life in Englishtown New Jersey, it has made its way to the UK before being loaded on a ship to arrive in New Zealand in 2003 with a stablemate, a ’69 Charger Daytona.

This Superbird is among the second rarest options available behind the HEMI optioned cars from 1970 with a 440 Six-Barrel and 4-Speed. Estimates put the numbers left at somewhere around 1,000 or about half of those made in 1970 still exist today. That might leave around 150 genuine 440-6BBL 4-Speed Superbirds left around the World.

1970 plymouth superbird survivor

Genuine American muscle cars are always sought out by car enthusiasts everywhere and this Superbird ticks most of the boxes. In an era of HEMI-powered Mopar dominance, the slightly lesser powered 440 big block cars were often overlooked.

For 1970, Chrysler produced a very limited number of triple carbureted Plymouth Road Runner Superbirds. Production was 1,935 for the US market. 135 Hemi’s (58 4-Speed and 77 Automatics), 1,084 – 440 4BBL Super Commando’s (458 4-Speed and 626 Automatics) and 716 – 440 Six Barrel’s (308 4-Speed and 408 Automatics).

highly original 1970 plymouth superbird

In the 1969 NASCAR season, what came to be known as the “Aero Wars” commenced. In an effort to match the pace of the Ford & Mercury cars, Chrysler introduced the Dodge Charger 500 that featured aerodynamic improvements to the car that were later radically changed to include the elevated rear spoiler and the aerodynamic nose cone.

Even with these changes the Charger and the Daytona still struggled to come to equal terms with the Fords & Mercurys. Chrysler’s most successful race team at the time were Team Petty who had made their name with Plymouth cars.

plymouth superbird 440-6 4-speed

To meet the NASCAR rules regarding minimum numbers manufactured and also entice the Petty’s back into the fold, a decision was made to run a Plymouth version of the aerodynamic car for the 1970 season. The Superbirds looked spectacular on the racetrack, but public acceptance was a bit more subdued perhaps because of the radical appearance.

Some dealers removed the rear spoiler and the nose cone in order to make the cars more closely resemble the normal muscle car offerings from Chrysler. Despite the success of the Superbird on the track, 1970 would be the only year in which it was made. As a result of their overall rarity, the cars have now achieved highly sought-after status among collectors of Mopar muscle cars and in recent times, prices for the vehicles have seen a steady rise.

numbers matching plymouth superbird

This is a remarkably well-preserved Plymouth Superbird that has retained all the right DNA. All numbers match on the vehicle and the car is essentially as it would have been when delivered. This Mopar is very much a survivor category car as it has never had a restoration. It has been repainted in the original color in the past without ever being painted inside the trunk or door jambs.

The previous owner had the original matching numbers 440-6 engine rebuilt, but it still retains its original bore dimensions. Mark’s plan is to retain its originality while tiding up things that needs to keep it presentable and roadworthy with everything functioning as it should have in 1970.

plymouth superbird 440 six pack rebuilt

Since purchasing the Plymouth Superbird in 2021 Mark has done several fixes such as rebuilding all the brakes and removed the fuel tank, which was cleaned up and repainted. The Six Pack carburetors are completely overhauled by a friend of his who worked some magic on them to fix a very temperamental starting issue. He replaced the leaking heater core and did some plastic welding and repairs to the center console.

It is a hard balancing act preserving the survivor status of the car while repairing what needs to be done and keeping the Superbird looking good, shares Mark. The Mopar may be a survivor, but it is still on its journey as a road driven car so its not being preserved as a time capsule just yet.

plymouth superbird survivor

Mark Coffey is someone who enjoys restoration projects and has to hold himself back to a large degree to find the balance of retaining the cars originality while keeping it on its journey as a car that will continue to be driven.

“In fact, when I purchased it sight unseen I flew up to where it was and drove it about 8 hours to bring it home. That was surreal feeling, driving along the Desert Road through the center of the North Island of New Zealand in a Winged Mopar only the second one I had ever personally seen in the flesh.

In working through what the car needs, I feel Like a detective unraveling clues to its past. It still has a cigarette burn on the original upholstery in the back seat and why had a hole had been drilled in the top of the air cleaner above the center carburetor. I have had this filled and re-powder coated.

Conclusion was that it was so hard to start that a previous owner might have drilled it to spray engine start into the carb to help things along. Someone had drilled a 1″ hole in the rear bumper to probably make it easier to pump up the air shocks that the Superbird had at an earlier time in its life fitting the value to the bumper.

The air shocks were long gone but the lines remained. The car also retains a functioning cool retro 1970’s aftermarket tape/radio unit made by Panasonic called a cockpit system fitted overhead to enhance the feeling that this bird can really fly”

plymouth superbird 440-6 original

“Having been so well traveled this Plymouth Superbird has been in many magazines in different countries and on posters over the years. Yet, there is still plenty of life left in the old bird”

Another Mopar Story from NZ – Geoff’s 1970 Plymouth GTX 440-6

restored 1970 plymouth gtx 440-6bbl
Click on the Photo for the 1970 Plymouth GTX 440-6 Story

 

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