Sometimes the search for that prized Mopar can take you halfway around the world, or farther. Or it can take you to someplace that’s almost right in your backyard, as Gary Fairchild’s search for this TorRed ’70 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird did.
Like more than a few Mopar guys, Gary had a hometown dealership (BZ Motors in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania) that sold performance Plymouths and Dodges alongside Ma Mopar’s civilian lineup. Gary’s mom worked there as a secretary, and Gary hung out in and near it, talking with the salesmen and learning from the mechanics. And, like many Dodge and C-P dealerships in the late-’60s and early ’70s, BZ Motors sponsored a local racer, Rick Wolf, and his 440 Six-barrel--powered ’70 ’Cuda that ran in the SS/GA class on the nearby dragstrips, whose pit crew many times included Gary.
But this Bird wasn’t the first one that caught Gary’s eye way back then. A Lime Lightcolored Bird that BZ Motors took as a trade-in was the one that Gary first saw and started dreaming about. Unfortunately, his folks thought the big-block under the hood was too much for the then 16-year-old driver. Instead, Gary’s first Mopar was a 340-powered ’72 Road Runner, which he began modifying almost as soon as he got it, and Gary street-raced it against his buddies’ Blue Ovals and Bow Ties.
In the summer of 1978, Gary was cruising through the nearby town of Milton when he saw something that grabbed his eye. Next to an old barn was this TorRed Superbird wearing some mis-matched paint over a poorly-done collision repair to its nose cone. It was in fair shape, Gary recalls. It was a 64,000-mile car, it had a little rust on the quarter-panels and a tiny bit of rust on the trunk floor. There was also a light-duty trailer hitch on it. A look inside showed an interior that was in excellent shape, though a Hurst Auto/Stick had replaced the OEM column-mounted shifter for the Bird’s 727 Torqueflite. Also inside: Two copies of the broadcast sheet, and the original window sticker showed that High-Impact paint, a tinted windshield, AM radio, and chrome five-spoke road wheels were the only extra-cost items, which bumped the ’Bird’s 1970 sticker price up to $4,485 (plus a $74 destination charge).
As simple as it gets—a front bench seat with a column-shifted 727. Gary removed an old Hur
A deal was done, and Gary now had two Road Runners, though the Superbird was driven less than his ’72 was. In time, Gary stored the ’Bird in his grandfather’s garage, where it stayed for nearly a quarter-century. I’d get it out maybe once or twice a year to start it to keep everything loosened up, and waiting until the time was right that I could do a restoration on it and do it right, says Gary. During that time, Gary got married, bought a house, started his own trucking business, and held on to the Superbird for that elusive someday.
That day came when his wife urged him to either restore the wing car or sell it. I started the restoration in December 2002, and it spent a couple of years at the body shop, says Gary. I totally stripped the car, and I did all the mechanical work. The only thing I didn’t do was the body and paintwork. It was put on a rotisserie and totally stripped. The underneath is as beautiful as the top is.
A Sun tach not only replaces the stock rev counter, it does so with a period-correct look
Getting the body just right took time--and finding the right shop to do it was one of the tougher parts of the project, per Gary, who wanted his Superbird to be absolutely perfect. I found the place to do it, but that took time, he says. Eventually, he found Larry’s Auto Body in nearby Watsontown, Pennsylvania. Owner Larry Sholly, another car enthusiast, had painted street rods and other cars when he wasn’t doing his bread-and-butter collision repair work. A friend of mine had some work done there, and I’d seen it, so I went and talked with him. He said he’d do it, but he wouldn’t guarantee me a time frame for the type of job I wanted. He does what he likes to do--he wants to do top-shelf stuff if people have the money and the time to do it right. He doesn’t like to do it just for the heck of it. He was interested in doing it because I wanted it done that way.