Chrysler Corp. ends a limited production run of the Plymouth Superbird, a highly modified 1970 Road Runner designed to dominate NASCAR tracks, on Dec. 15, 1969, at a plant in Detroit.
Famed NASCAR driver Richard Petty had left Chrysler for Ford in 1968 and the Superbird was created to help lure him back, which he agreed to for the 1970 season.
Chrysler churned out some 1,935 Superbirds from October 23 to December 15, 1969. In addition to its Road Runner roots, the Superbird featured modified fenders and a hood from the Coronet. They were designed for better aerodynamics and to compete on the NASCAR circuit.
The Superbird packed a 440-cubic-inch V-8 engine or a Hemi motor.
The rear wing was mounted on large vertical struts to keep the wing in an area of less-disturbed air above the roofline. The wing also kept the required downforce on the rear axle. The extreme height of the rear wing was determined so the trunk could open.
USA Today once called the wacky car an anachronism, adding it might as well be "a dodo bird."
The Superbird was largely designed by Gary Romberg, a Chrysler aerodynamicist who previously worked at Boeing.
Under NASCAR's homologation rules, racing vehicles had to be made available for sale to the public. So it stickered for around $4,000 -- or $1,200 above a Road Runner hardtop coupe.
There was at least one Superbird available for every two dealers in 1970. But many Superbirds sat unsold on dealer lots for as much as two years since some buyers did not admire the style or the hefty price. Some were even converted back to 1970 Road Runners.