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Author Topic: Superbird vs Daytona Road Trip Part 1  (Read 762 times)
taxspeaker
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The Alaska Highway Superbird


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« on: April 30, 2018, 07:19:10 PM »

Plymouth Superbird and Dodge Daytona-Road Trip Comparison
It seems like nowadays many wing car owners treat the cars as a museum piece for people to come see. Nothing wrong with that, but as a business owner I believe that you need to take the product to the people if you can, not make them come to you. These wing cars are the product, they just aren’t for sale. You see, I believe we are a caretaker of a car which will live far beyond our lifetime in the history of America, and to keep that American history alive, people need to touch, see, hear and yes, feel the excitement by taking the product to them. So, I drive my wing cars, and yes, I know how lucky I am to even own one. So here are two short summaries of my examples of driving the cars.
In 2015 a bone stock 1970 Plymouth Superbird with about 40,000 miles went on an epic 5,000-mile road trip from Southern Indiana to Anchorage Alaska. I was the lucky owner and driver of the car. More about the car and the trip in a minute.
In 2018 the plan was to re-do the exact same trip with the same route, the same stops and the same solo driver, also in a bone stock 1969 Dodge Daytona with about 45,000 miles. After long consideration of the damage incurred by the Superbird, the cost to restore it, and my advancing age, the Alaska trip was vetoed and replaced with a 1,400-mile road trip from Southern Indiana to Moparfest at the Battleships in Mobile, Alabama over the April 29th,  2018 weekend. 



* rsz_battleships.jpg (380.57 KB, 1945x944 - viewed 536 times.)
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Bob J
1969 Daytona 4 speed, Y2 yellow
1970 Superbird-"The Alaska Highway SuperBird" "Alpine White
1970 Superbird- "The 43 year barn find LimeLight" Bird
1994 Viper
taxspeaker
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The Alaska Highway Superbird


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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2018, 07:20:14 PM »

Part 2

The 1970 Plymouth Superbird

The Bird was built with a 440, 4-barrel engine, automatic transmission and 3.55 rear end gears in an 8 ¾ housing. All Superbirds had power steering, power front disc brakes and heavy-duty suspension. For this trip I rebuilt the entire suspension, shocks and brakes as well as the transmission, the original carburetor and radiator, and I replaced every belt, hose, filter and lubricant and upgraded to Mopar’s electronic ignition. I also replaced the original gas tank and non-functioning fuel gauge. The 1-way mileage ended up being exactly 5,209 miles from my home in Jeffersonville, Indiana to the final turn around point of the trip in Whittier Alaska, counting side trips. Before the trip the car was wrapped in a clear vinyl wrap (undetectable) for the front end and hood and along the lower 1/3 of the body panels. My son also designed and 3-d printed a custom mount for a tail mounted Go-Pro camera as well as a passenger window mounted Go-Pro.

During the trip the car averaged 13.8 mpg. Average highway speeds were about 65 mph, but many of the roads were gravel, mountainous, damaged or detoured, so the actual mileage may have been less if the slightly slower speeds are considered. I tried to drive 50-60 on the gravel and 65-70 on the pavement. Top speed during the trip was about 110 just outside of Tok, Alaska. The car incurred several mechanical issues which I was able to fix during the trip including a split fuel tank, ruptured power steering hose, several fried electronic control modules for the new ignition, dislocated front caliper, oil pressure sending unit, one case of overheating in Chicago traffic and a failed wiper motor in driving rain between Fairbanks and Anchorage. The radio speaker blew out within 60 miles of starting the trip while trying to hear it over the wind and motor noise and the ECM’s were fried because of locating the module on the firewall next to the ballast resistor where the engine heat overwhelmed them. I was able to reuse them after they cooled overnight-a good thing although I brought 2 extras along. The engine drank oil at the rate of a quart every 450 miles, but there were no other drive train issues. But the car and I made it and made it home in running condition.

At the conclusion of the trip, the front suspension was shot, even though I had replaced it prior to the trip, the engine needed a complete rebuilding, there was a foot-long gash on the passenger side from hitting a tire on a gravel curve in a mountain pass at 50 mph, the passenger caliper had come almost completely off and the wiper motor had not failed, it just vibrated loose from the gravel roads. The first trip after returning home the caliper failed within less than 2 miles of my house. Interpret that as you wish, I took it as a sign. The Bird does not have a tach so average RPM’s are not known.
An ironic twist-the Bird came originally with 15” rally wheels. For the trip I mounted new radial T/As on 14” chrome road wheels, causing the speedometer to always read about 6 mph faster than actual speed. I just realized while writing that the Daytona (below) originally came with 14” road wheels, but for its trip I mounted radial T/As on 15” road wheels, causing the speedometer to read about 5 mph slower than actual speed. No reason for these things, just worked out this way.

The people we met during the trip ranged from friendly, to extremely friendly to visibly excited to see a legendary wing car. We were chased by picture takers, passed by picture takers, filmed by a TV station in Alaska, and reduced to tears on several occasions by the stories of the people just wanting their picture taken with the car. The car, an alpine white Bird, began to remind me of the legendary “Kowalski” white Challenger from the Vanishing Point movie for its status on the 1 road to Alaska. The nicest person? That’s easy, the lady at the gas station in Pink Mountain, way up at the Yukon/BC border. The gas tank split in Dawson Creek, and I stopped at Inland Chrysler where the guys helped me get it fixed, but it delayed me about 4 hours from my goal for the night, and I always make my goals. The problem was I did not get out of Dawson Creek until after 7:30 on a Friday night and there was only the 1 gas station for 250 miles in Pink Mountain. There was no website and no way to call, so I left, hoping somehow it was open, or I would have to spend the weekend parked in the wilderness in my car waiting until Monday for gas. I pulled into her station around 10:30 that night and out walks this lady who greeted me with “I’m glad you made it, I was worried about you and waited for you.” This was 1 of 50 unforgettable moments on the trip interacting with people who knew the car was coming and went out of their way to see it. The example reminded me again that the cars need to be seen-they are legendary and deserve our best caretaker abilities during our fleeting moments of time watching over them.

The 30,000 pictures were incredible and show snow-packed mountain passes, crystal clear lakes, bears, moose, bison, trumpeter swans, caribou, Dall sheep and best of all, a wild horse herd running across the highway outside of Whitehorse, Yukon followed by a 360 degree spin out into the thawed tundra on the roadside, followed by 4 hours of repair to put the right caliper back on. In the very last few shots from the wing mounted camera you can actually see a bear about 100 yards away slowly moving towards the car, while I am unaware of it-we just discovered these shots, and I was trying to get the come-along unhooked from the K-member while laying under the car in the mud.

Although I promised to post more pictures I never did. I’m sorry guys. But I am now writing a coffee table book about the trip that will include as many color pictures as possible of the car, the scenery and the wildlife. But, I would leave for that trip again tomorrow because the issues were insignificant.
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Bob J
1969 Daytona 4 speed, Y2 yellow
1970 Superbird-"The Alaska Highway SuperBird" "Alpine White
1970 Superbird- "The 43 year barn find LimeLight" Bird
1994 Viper
taxspeaker
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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2018, 07:21:13 PM »

Part 3
 
The 1969 Dodge Daytona

The Daytona was also built with a 440, 4-barrel, but it has a 4-speed and Dana rear end with 3:54 rear gears. All Daytona’s also had power disc brakes and power steering. Again, no changes were made to the drivetrain other than fluid, belt, filter and hose replacement. The front end was rebuilt right before I bought the car, the radiator had been re-cored to a triple core, and I repaired 15-20 minor electrical and switch issues and rebuilt the carburetor before the trip. This car does not have an electronic ignition upgrade. The round-trip mileage was 1,480 counting side trips. Because this trip was all on paved roads the car was not wrapped and incurred no damage.

During the trip the car averaged 13.5 mpg, and average driving speed was about 65 for the whole trip at a pretty constant 3,000 rpm. Oil consumption-there was none, and the trip burned up any old carbon deposits so that by the end it was purring like a kitten, but it got 93 octane where the bird got 1 grade above kerosene in many stations. Once again I had my son design and print a custom tail-mounted case for a Go-Pro camera, plus we had 1 mounted under the rear view mirror.

About 40 miles from home the 50-year old clutch started to come apart, but I kept going, knowing if I stopped I might be stuck. Luckily the interstate exit is 1 mile from my shop, I caught both stop lights and coasted in to the open garage lift my son had waiting with an open garage door. Again, you call it what you will, but this was another sign in my eyes.

If it is possible to have more friendly people than on the Alaska trip this was it. The Southern Mopar guys, as well as every single person at the Moparfest at the Battleships event were consistently friendly, excited to see not 1, but 2 wing cars (yes we also took the Bird), and we made dozens of new friends. The trip down, in which a gas stop was made every 120-160 miles, was again punctuated with crowds at every stop, pictures, politeness, films and more. The best point was at a truck stop in southern Kentucky yesterday where a guy literally ran over to me breathlessly asking if I would wait for his wife to bring his son from home to see the car. I thought about it and said I could wait for a bit, and he called his wife to bring their autistic son to see the car. The boy, about 12, was all about visual and touch interaction and never spoke. His reaction made the whole trip worthwhile as he ran his hands over the wing, sat in the seat and actually hugged the car door. I don’t know anything about autism, but the boy’s mom took dozens of pictures through the tears, and my allergies seemed to be acting up a bit too.

Summary
If you own a wingcar you are a caretaker of American history and dreams. Take it off the beaten track away from a car show and let folks see the car, tell you their stories and listen to your stories. The car doesn’t do anyone any good sitting in a locked garage. Maybe you will believe in the signs I think I got, maybe not, but we don’t own these cars, we are just temporary managers of history. I have attached 1 picture from Mobile.
Thanks for reading, sorry for the way too many words.
Bob
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Bob J
1969 Daytona 4 speed, Y2 yellow
1970 Superbird-"The Alaska Highway SuperBird" "Alpine White
1970 Superbird- "The 43 year barn find LimeLight" Bird
1994 Viper
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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2018, 07:40:43 PM »

awesome post, bob
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ernie helderbrand - 409053
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« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2018, 09:00:43 PM »

Agreed. Awesome.

Dan
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Hoser2455
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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2018, 10:03:16 PM »

I'm glad you were able to take both cars.  That is great! Looking forward to more pictures and thanks for the great post.
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JB400
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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2018, 12:51:04 AM »

Glad you enjoyed both trips in such great cars
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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2018, 02:16:36 AM »

Nice
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« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2018, 12:02:14 PM »

Glad your driving them. Just a side note though. Not all Daytona’s have power steering or power brakes.
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gearbreath
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« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2018, 03:51:24 PM »

Thank You Bob, Great stories.!!!!
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taxspeaker
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The Alaska Highway Superbird


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« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2018, 07:18:37 PM »

Glad your driving them. Just a side note though. Not all Daytona’s have power steering or power brakes.

Didn't know that, thanks
BTW it wasn't the clutch-it was the throwout bearing on the Daytona when I got the inspection pan off last night
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Bob J
1969 Daytona 4 speed, Y2 yellow
1970 Superbird-"The Alaska Highway SuperBird" "Alpine White
1970 Superbird- "The 43 year barn find LimeLight" Bird
1994 Viper
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« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2018, 04:11:33 PM »

VERY well done.
And I agree with you on all accounts , they were meant to be driven .

And I want a copy of the table book once ready
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Bill Allphin
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« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2018, 06:09:46 AM »

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« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2018, 08:41:14 PM »

Great story!
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Birdflu
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« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2018, 03:37:11 PM »

Great read! My wife and I couldn't agree with you more. These cars were meant to be driven and enjoyed not only by their current owners, but also by people who see them along the way! We're all just 'stewards' of the preservation of these cars.
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Beep Beep Dave
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« Reply #15 on: May 25, 2018, 05:52:03 AM »

Thanks for taking the time and sharing. That was very good reading.

Sound like a must have book.

Dave
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