As Florida, North, and South Carolina are currently engaged in a super-sized recovery following the now-weakening Hurricane Ian, we get to revisit the case of the 1970 Plymouth Superbird and 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona that got flooded by the storm. Mike, the owner of the muscle cars, tells the story of how the disaster pulled the vehicles out of their garage and also tried to sweep him away as the man attempted to save the vehicles.
After taking out Cuba’s entire power grid, Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida on Wednesday, as a Category 4 storm, which meant winds of up to 150 mph. The storm reached South Carolina on Friday, being downgraded to a post-tropical storm by the National Hurricane Center. The NHS currently classifies Ian as a post-tropical cyclone, albeit with the storm still being predicted to cause issues in the Central Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic—flood watches have been introduced in Virginia and West Virginia.
All in all, Hurricane Ian was one of the most powerful storms to have ever affected the U.S., killing at least 20 people and generating billions of dollars in damage. And with Florida being home to countless high-end vehicles, many of these were flooded by the storm—the surge was so vicious, that it pulled the Superbird and the Daytona, two of the most iconic muscle cars ever, off four-post platforms, with the vehicles sitting over six feet high inside their garage.
Mike was close to getting taken away by the storm surge
As Mike, who is turning 70 soon, explains in an interview for cinematographer Douglas Thron, he was “downstairs” when the flood hit the garage, attempting to save the vehicles.
The man recalls how the water started tipping the cars over, at which point the surge also threatened to take him away. That’s when Mike, who had taken another Superbird and Daytona to safety in preparation for the storm, knew he had to let go of the situation, so he disengaged.
The collector saw the classics getting dragged out of their garage and tumbled around, with the Plymouth being unfortunate enough to land on its vinyl roof after hitting a structure.
The man believes that the nose cones of the aero cars, whose unconventional shape brought NASCAR glory back in the day, broke the stream of water and prevented the cars from being taken all the way into the nearby bay. He’s probably referring to the Caloosahatchee River and, if we remember how Hurricane Ian pulled a McLaren P1 out of its garage and ironically placed it on top of a toilet seat, we’re glad these muscle cars remained close to their home.
Fortunately, Mike escaped the situation uninjured and, as previously stated by one of his relatives, it seems that nobody in his family was physically hurt by Hurricane Ian.
The current situation in Florida
As the two men discuss in the YouTube video below, somebody appearing to be an emergency rescuer intervenes, warning them about a 6 PM curfew imposed to prevent criminal acts such as looting, as the area, along with many others, still hasn’t seen power being restored.
In addition, Mike explains that having somebody over to flip the Superbird back onto its wheels and remove the rare, uber-expensive pair from the street has proven impossible so far—we presume that, with emergencies being prioritized and many roads being affected, getting to the area from outside is a serious challenge.
And while the Internet seems to be torn between feeling for these enthusiasts who hard their machines ruined and pointing the finger at them for having multiple days to remove the vehicles and not doing it, one thing is clear: the clean-up operation is anything but facile.
The interviewer is a fellow Mopar man
We’ve already discussed the limited numbers of these aero cars in the original story, but we’ll remind you that only 503 units of the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytonas and 1,920 examples of the 1970 Plymouth Superbird were ever produced.
As for Mike’s cars, the flooded TorRed Superbird and red Charger Daytona used to share this garage with the duo that was transported away from the wrath of the weather. We’re talking about a Hemi Orange Daytona he’s had since the age of 16—the car was brand new at the time—and a Vitamin C Superbird.
It’s easy to see how easily Mopar aficionados connect through their cars. For one, Thorn is also a Dodge enthusiast, having owned a 1969 Charger R/T 440, which was the starting point for the Daytona. And, as he aptly points out in the clip, these aero cars weren’t always the six- and even seven-figure machines they are today.
Thorn is used to visiting natural disaster areas, as, for a few years now, he’s been operating a drone fitted with an infrared camera and high-zoom lens, which he uses to locate and rescue animals in multiple parts of the world.
A close-up of the Superbird and Daytona
We also get to see him going near the winged warriors in the Instagram clip at the bottom of the story. And while we expect the word “real” to refer to the fact that the previous images of the flooded muscle cars weren’t doctored, all this footage seems to bring us closer to answering a question many enthusiasts had—are the Superbird and the Daytona originals or clones? And with their owner having steered clear of any mention that would point out to the latter, as well as his collection, we’re assuming these are the real deal.
While there are no electronics here (alas, we can’t say this about this Hurricane Ian-flooded Koenigsegg Regera plug-in hybrid), the salt water damage, as well as the hits sustained by the vehicles mean restoring them will be a gargantuan task.
Almost a month after being ruined by Hurricane Ian, the Plymouth Superbird and the Dodge Charger Daytona once again share a garage over in Florida.
PS: While the images in the gallery are screenshots from the interview video, we mixed two of them for the intro photo of this article.