SEMA 2022 seems like the best possible time to enjoy life from behind the wheel of a 1970 Plymouth Superbird. These NASCAR-bred Mopars, whose extreme styling pushed many fans away back in the day, make for treasured collector items nowadays. Richard Petty, the NASCAR legend for whom the aero car was designed is still active in the car business and we could go on all day. However, the fifty-year-old mechanical side of the Plymouth won’t exactly deliver the sharpest driving experience, even when restored to its original condition. Oh, if only there was something a show like the SEMA 2022 could do about that…
We’ve already answered the obvious questions in the title, but we’ll do it again, just because this build is a treasure. Yes, this is an actual 1970 Plymouth Superbird, one of just 1,920 examples ever made.
And yes, that’s a Hellcat sitting behind the nose cone. However, it sports a black-colored blower with the Mopar emblem, just like the larger supercharger present on the Hellephant 426 (7.0L) crate engine daddy that Dodge’s Direct Connection parts and accessories program just upgraded for SEMA 2022.
The V8 was put together by Gearhead Fabrications, whom we must also thank for some of the images in the gallery below.
Regardless, the HEMI, which certainly delivers more than the standard 707 hp, is mated to an eight-speed automatic, the kind of ZF tranny you find on contemporary Dodge muscle cars.
Now, traditionalists might complain about this Superbird losing its factory engine (many came with 440s and some with 426 HEMIs). But we have to keep in many that quite a few of these winged warriors had a tough life. Heck, just recently Hurricane Ian pulled a Superbird and a 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona out of their garage in Florida, where the cars were sitting six feet high on a platform, damaging the legends before a not-that-simple rescue operation brought them back to safety.
A deep restomod, but also a stealthy one
From the outside, nothing gives the Petty Blue-dressed Superbird’s heavily restomoded nature away—the wheels are the only exception, but even these come with a steelie-like, deep-dish design that rolls under the radar.
However, if we look underneath the vehicle (the image gallery is like a magical car lift trip), we’ll find a custom chassis coming from Detroit Speed. There are also other modern goodies ensuring that this thing can handle the kind of speeds of the original NASCAR version (200+ mph, remember?) without breaking a sweat, such as the generously-sized brakes.
The Petty Blue, Hellcat-swapped 1970 Plymouth Daytona was unveiled yesterday at the HP Tuners SEMA booth (lens tip to Hp Tuner’s Chris for the intro pic), as you’ll notice in the first clip below.
The video also includes builder Brad DeBerti (the aficionado with the cap), which took to his YouTube channel prior to the reveal to tell us that the unnamed owner commissioned this as a no-expense-spared project.
This Hellcat-ized Superbird has been roaming American pavement well ahead of SEMA
While we’re on this topic, we should tell you that the build comes from Salvaggio Design—company founder Dave Salvaggio has been hooning this beast right under our digital noses at least since this spring. And the burnout in the second vid below attests to that.
And, as the clip also mentions the 1969 Plymouth Road Runner the builder put together for Kevin Hart earlier this year, we’ll remind you that their collab also resulted in the enthusiast building a 1987 Buick Grand National for the comedian to enjoy at SEMA 2022. And not, this is not Hart’s 1987 GNX, but a brand new machine aimed at separating the driving experience from the pressure of owning a rare collector car.
Returning to the Daytona, it’s clear that the Mopar fan who owns the build wanted a time machine—we only get a glimpse of the interior, but, save for a few elements like the rotary dial of the modern automatic, everything in there looks like it’s 1970 all over again.
Update (November 23, 2022): With SEMA now behind us, the Salvaggio Design Plymouth Superbird restomod got taken for a spin in an Autotopia LA video, which awaits you at the bottom of the story. As such, we get some extra details on this impressive build, while some of the info we uncovered during SEMA is confirmed.
Once again, this is a genuine Superbird, which was in pretty rough shape when the unnamed owner decided to revive the thing. And while the design still spells “factory 1970 Superbird”, there are a few visual clues towards the heavily revised tech side of the winged warrior. We’re talking about the tucked rear bumper, reworked taillights, and the one-off wheels—now we know these are one-off HREs, wrapped in 295-section 20-inch rear tires and 285-section, 18-inch front tires.
Detroit Speed has apparently helped Salvaggio Design create its own chassis, which is present in this car. And the former provided the custom front suspension and four-link rear suspension.
The Hellcat 6.2-liter HEMI has been fully built (e.g., new pistons), packs a Redeye blower, and is good for around 900 horsepower. As such, the Hellcat Redeye ZF 8-speed automatic has also been built to cope with the muscle premium.
And while the supercharged V8 can express itself via a Magnaflow exhaust, when it’s time to step on the other pedal, the vehicle relies on meaty Baer Brakes.
Now, while this may sound counterintuitive, the ride shown in the clip below tells us that this 900 hp 1970 Plymouth Superbird is a brilliant cruiser and not just a blower-aided aero brute.