Name: 1970 Plymouth Superbird
Year(s) Produced: 1970
Number Built: 920 (for NASCAR purposes)
Class: Muscle car
Body Type: 2-door sports coupe
Engine: 426 cu in (7.0 L) Hemi V8
Power: 425hp @ 5000 RPM
0-60mph: 4.8 seconds
Top Speed: 200mph
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Length/width/height: 221 in./ 76.4 in./ 61.4 in.
Wheelbase: 115.8 in.
Base Price: US$4,298
Highest Price: US$371,000
Back in 2011, Mike Hill from South Carolina shared a story that is worth retelling. In an interview with Graveyard Carz’ Mark Worman, Mike shared how keeping your promises will yield in great benefits – and in his case, the rewards is not just one, but two 1970 Plymouth Superbirds.
The two ’70 Plymouth Superbirds, sitting idly bidding their time.
Perhaps what could be the most compelling part of Mike’s story other than the fact that the NASCAR race cars were actually recorded in the registry of 920 Superbirds that were ever made for the race track, was the deep respect and friendship that it fostered by honouring one’s word.
The same cars taken from the left side.
For Mike, the 1970 Superbird is the ultimate muscle car and he wanted one ever since he was a kid. It became a sort of a mysterious adventure for him when news spread across town about a certain guy named Harry Thames who actually owned one. It was short of an urban legend. True enough, the stories are real and each time Mike passes in front of Harry’s house he can’t help but glimpse at the tips of the wings peering from the Superbird. He made a vow to himself that one day he’ll step into the Harry’s porch and propose to buy the Superbird.
Trees actually grew along the sides of these classis muscle cars, with some even passing through the nose cones.
However, the ‘urban legend’ also succinctly describes the owner as short of being a ‘lunatic’. There were rumors that the Harry was so crazy to keep his Superbird that he’ll let his dogs loose to anyone who will approach his house, knock on the door and offer to buy his car. So understandably, Mike did not attempt to do so. Giving up on his dream Mike said, “So we decided to build a Daytona clone instead.”
Mike decided that his best bet was to build one of his own. He had the rear body of the clone replaced with a part from a ’68 and ’69, but eventually hit a snag when it comes to the front end of the car. He was short of clueless on how to hang and install the fibreglass nose cone. Mike said, “After several calls to some of my gear head buddies, the best piece of advice that I got was to bring the parts that I have, go straight to this guy’s house, show him the wind cones I’m working on, and ask if I may have the chance of looking at his car.”
Michael Hill together with his Dad’s great barn finds.
Mike took his friend’s advice and did just that. He brought some of the parts that he needs to know more of, and together with his son, he drove to Harry’s house. Mike continued, “Sure enough he was standing at the door and asked ‘how can I help you?’. So I went up to the back of my car, held the fibreglass cone up and said, I have some parts here.”
After Mike explained to the gentleman what he is working on, and that it’s more of a father and son project for him and for his son Michael, the old man’s tone soften and he said, “If you need to take some pictures, go ahead and take them.”
With camera on hand, Mike and his son went into the woods to get a better picture of the Superbird. What he saw completely caught him off-guard. “After we got his permission and went to the woods, I saw these two Superbirds just sitting there behind the trees, sitting under the sun. I said to myself, it’s 2007 and these cars are still in this guy’s backyard undiscovered and unrestored,” Mike said. Here are some of the pictures that Mike took of the two Superbirds they found in the wild. Mike posted these photos at the DodgeCharger.com forum in October, 2011.
Father and son poses with their barn find – the first of the two that comes with a promise
Eventually, the original owner of the two Plymouth Superbirds seemed to have a liking towards Michael and his dad, and to the idea that they’re working on a project together. They began to form a friendship after that brief meeting.
Before leaving Harry’s place, Mike took a step of faith and made an offer. “I reached out to my dashboard, got my business card and a ten dollar bill. He then asked what this is for. I said the ten dollars is for you not to throw away my business card,” Mike said. “I know these cars are like your children and that they’re yours and you want to keep them. But if for any reason you decide you want to sell them you know what to do and I know what to do also.”
A couple of months have passed and Mike thought that Harry have completely lost interest about his offer. However, out of the blue, Mike gets a phone call with the person on the other end asking a rather straightforward question: ‘Are you still interested?’
As it turned out, Harry kept Mike’s business card and decided to let go of his priceless motoring jewels. However, he was adamant with his conditions. “Harry said that he decided to sell the cars only for two reasons: he says first, you don’t take these cars and resell them, and second since you’re a father and son team, I want to see you ending up in one bird, and your son in one.”
It is a promise of a legacy that Harry passed on to Mike, and he was honored to keep it. “Until this day, Harry and I have become really good friends. He, Michael and I go out riding motorcycles together and we’ve gone a long way since then,” Mike says. “For him, it’s enough to see his children (the Superbirds) brought back to life.” Here’s a picture of Mike and his son Michael when the first Superbird was completely restored in its bright orange, glory back in 2011. Check out the video below after the photo.
Mike and Michael Hill with their first restored Superbird.
Fast forward to 2014, the crew of Graveyard Carz upon knowing Mike’s Superbirds and the story behind them, were kind enough to restore the second one. Donned in an all-white paint job, the second Plymouth Superbird was unveiled by Mark Worman in the presence of the entire Hill family including Mike’s better half and 2014 South Carolina State Figure Champion, Jennifer Liane Hill. When the Superbird came into view, everyone was stunned and the expression of delight from Mike as captured by the camera was truly priceless. Check out the second video below.
“It was truly a great moment, and I’m not just saying that. Having the presence of Harry Thames, the guy who bought the car new, show up and gives the car his blessings is truly awesome,” Mark says. Harry a retired air force personnel who served his years in Vietnam, bought the Superbirds back in the ‘70s. Due to the rising cost of fuel at that time and several maintenance issues, he decided to park the cars. When people started noticing the Superbirds, and plenty of offers came up in buying them – which he all refused – Harry decided to push back the cars in a part of the forest near his residence. “I felt pretty terrible and the cars look so bad, and I have a hundred people coming offering me a buck or two. I got pissed off and I just pushed them back (the cars) into the woods,” Harry recalls. “Seeing my car like this, and what they (Graveyard Carz) have done with it simply amazes me.”
The second restored, 1970 Plymouth Superbird all in its pure white glory.
Father and son team of Mike and Michael Hill as they take their fully restored Superbird for a cruise.
We hope to hear more similar stories such as these. Beyond the impressive specs and legacy behind these cars, it’s the people behind them and the stories that they have, that makes our classic cars more meaningful. Graveyard Carz host, Mark Worman said, “Stories such as Mike’s make up the very fabric of our lives at least with mine, and the generation, and people that I lived up with.” Do you have similar story to share? Feel free to tell your story at the comments section below.
Graveyard Carz is an automotive reality show currently airing on the Velocity Channel. The show documents a select crew (nicknamed “the ghouls”) at Mark Worman’s collision shop, Welby’s Car Care, and the research on and restoration of Chrysler Corporation vehicles, primarily Plymouth and Dodge late 1960s / early 1970’s muscle cars. The show features a blend of Mopar history, vehicle restoration, and viewer education, tinged with comedy and drama, as each customer project progresses through the shop until it is completed and delivered. The series is produced independently by the Division Productions, LLC, and syndicated to pay TV networks (like Velocity) around the world.