Now here's something you don't see everyday: an ex-government owned Plymouth Superbird. That's right, the Environmental Protection Agency bought this NASCAR homologation special in the 70's to test airplane emissions. Now, it's been fully restored to its original testing condition, and is going up for auction in October.
The car, , was purchased built by Nichels Engineering after it was contracted to create a car capable of keeping up with jetliners as they were taking off the runway at speeds of around 140 mph.
While it came standard with enough horsepower (375, in fact), the car's column-shifted automatic transmission was not up to the challenge. Nichels swapped it out for a Chrysler-sourced four-speed manual to ensure accurate control at speed. It was loaded up with all sorts of emission-testing equipment, and even fitted with a second alternator to supply enough current to keep everything running.
Thanks to the Superbird's wind-tunnel shaped body, it was able to resist the 100 mph- winds created by the thrust of the jetliners, and capture data the EPA was looking for. The car's comically large vertical tail stabilizers and wing helped it stay planted during each 40-second testing run. The wing also made for a perfect mounting point for the EPA's emission probes.
After years of faithful service, the Plymouth was auctioned off by the government titled as a '1970 Plymouth car,' which caught the eye of a high school shop teacher. He bought the car for a mere $500, and removed all of the EPA testing gear.
In 2005, he sold the car to its current owner, who reinstalled the original testing equipment the car had when it was chasing planes down the runway. It's been restored to perfect condition, and looks stunning.
This Superbird is set to be presented at . There's no estimated sale price listed, but a car with this much government and Mopar history won't be going for cheap.