On a Wing and a Prayer
06 It's 1970, and the Superbird, a modified Road Runner, stepped up for high speed with its nosecone that used retractable headlights and added 19 inche to the Road Runner's original length. For years, it was believed that a mathematic formula was used to determine the exact height of the enormous wing. Some years ago, though, a retired Chrysler engineer admitted that the height was determined solely to provide clearance for the trunk lid when opened. The rear-facing scoops on the fenders were not to facilitate brake cooling, but to hide cutouts in the fender tops that allow wheel clearance when the car was lowered for NASCAR.
NASCAR's homologation requirement demanded that vehicles must be available to the general public and sold through dealerships in minimum numbers to be eligible for racing. For 1970 NASCAR raised the production requirement from 500 to one for every two dealers in the United States. We've heard that Chrysler memos from 1969 show that they were getting ready to work with 1,920 Superbirds, but published figures say as many as 2,783 were actually built. With that being said, the current figure generally accepted is that 1,935 Superbirds were built and shipped to dealers in the U.S. If that is correct, that leaves anywhere from 34 to 47 allegedly going to Canada. When it comes to the engines, the most frequently seen numbers say that 135 got the Hemi, 716 440 Six-Barrel editions were built, and the remainder were powered by the 440 with a four-barrel.
On the street, the nose cone and wing were very distinctive, but the aerodynamic improvements hardly made a difference there or on the dragstrip. Only at speeds greater than 90 mph did the nose and wing show any benefit.
A Fine Fish for 1971
'71 Hemi 'Cuda
05 Our number five position holder needs no introduction, and the '71 Hemi 'Cuda has a distinct style that is unforgettable. In 1971 the Barracuda got a new grille that many refer to as the cheese grater, but it was actually designed to suggest Barracuda fish teeth. The chrome louvers on the front fenders suggest the fish gills. The flat-back decals (billboards) covering most of the rear quarter-panels and doors were optional. The Shaker scoop was available on all 'Cuda models ('Cuda was the name used for high-performance versions of the Barracuda). 1971 ended up being the last year for the Barracuda convertible, with just 1,385 convertibles sold. Production fell from 1970's 54,800 to 18,690.
1971 was the last year of the "performance years," and in 1972 the horsepower ratings fell and the various B engines were no longer available. The 318 became the standard engine on all models with the 340 being optional. Electronic ignition became available as an option as well.
MSRP: $4,035.45* (Hardtop)
MSRP: $4,314.45* (Convertible)
04 In 1968 the Charger retained its full-width hidden headlight grille from 1967, but the rotating electric headlight assemblies were replaced by vacuum operated covers. The rear end also featured distinctive twin circular taillights.
The standard engine was the 318 until mid-year when a 225 Slant Six became available. The R/T came standard with the 440 Magnum, and the 426 Hemi was optional. The Hemi (package) would set the buyer back an extra $1,000. Quite a bit, considering the base price was $3,122. Only 468 of the Hemi option were purchased.
In 1968 Chrysler Corporation unveiled a new ad campaign featuring a Bee with an engine on its back. These cars were part of the Scat Pack. The Charger R/T received the "bumble-bee" stripes. The 1968 model year saw Charger sales increase to 96,100, with 17,000 of them being R/Ts.
Our Next Challenger
03 Available as a coupe and convertible, the coupe version of the '70 Challenger lands in our number three spot. The Challenger was available with everything from a Slant Six to V-8 performance versions wearing the familiar R/T label. Standard R/T power came from the 335hp 383, and two 440s were offered. The first was the four-barrel Magnum with 375 hp, and then the Six Pack with 390. The 426 Hemi option cost an extra $1,228 with required heavy-duty equipment.
Of 19,938 Challenger R/Ts built for 1970, just 356 got Hemis, and 2,035 were fitted with 440 Six Packs. The 440 and the Hemi came standard with a TorqueFlite automatic. Ordering the four-speed got you a Pistol-Grip Hurst shifter and a Dana 60 axle. Gear ratios climbed from 3.23:1 to 4.10:1, with the Sure Grip as an extra-cost item. All R/Ts got a beefed suspension, and 440 and Hemi cars got 15-inch 60-series tires. Essentials like power steering and front disc brakes were optional.
The Shaker scoop was available as a $97 option. Full gauges, including a tachometer, were standard, and R/Ts could also be ordered in SE trim, which included leather seats and a vinyl roof with a smaller rear window.
Total production was 83,032 cars, a number the Challenger wouldn't come close to repeating for the rest of its short life before being discontinued in 1974.
- MSRP: Coupe (six-cylinder) $2,851.00*
- Convertible $3,120.00*
- MSRP: Coupe (eight-cylinder) $2,953.00*
- Convertible $3,222.00*