Up for Auction: 11 Wing Cars Star in Mint Mopar Collection
Kevin Sergent, who assembled one of the country’s premier collections of Chrysler muscle cars, really had no choice.
“Mopar is all I ever knew from the time I could walk,” the Pennsylvania resident says. “And even as a teenager I wanted a Mopar product.”
Well, he sort of got his wish. “Unfortunately, my first car was a Dodge Omni, which I bought for 800 bucks. I wasn’t in a position to buy high-end anything back then.”
Mopar, of course, refers to Chrysler products. The name was coined in 1937 for the company’s brand of antifreeze.
Though Sergent’s relatives raced Mopars, he couldn’t afford to buy a real race car. “But I could come up with a few hundred bucks to buy myself a Chrysler Newport or Imperial and run it in a demolition derby. It was a hobby I kept at until I was in my early 40s, and I finally quit after breaking a couple of bones and catching on fire a few times. I got pretty good—I actually retired as the track champion.”
Fortunes have changed for Sergent, who grew up riding in the back seat of his father’s 1968 Plymouth Road Runner. He began working in the automotive industry as a car salesman when he was 21, and 18 years later, “I cashed in my retirement account, the kids’ college fund and I triple-mortgaged my house to buy a car dealership.” Now he owns 11 dealerships in Western Pennsylvania that operate under the Tri-Star banner.
Today, 25 of his best Mopars will cross the stage at the Mecum 2024 Kissimmee auction in Florida. Though the collection includes some mint Plymouth Road Runners and Hemi Cudas, it’s the 11 “wing” cars that are getting the most attention.
The wing cars, shorthand for Plymouth Superbirds and Dodge Daytonas that were built in 1969 and 1970, had a purpose: Chrysler had to manufacture some street cars with the pointed, wind-cheating nose and huge rear wing in order to race with the same features in NASCAR, where the cars dominated.
The design was so radical that the cars did not sell well when new. “I had a friend who was a dealer and he had one on the lot, and he said that after two years, ‘I had to take the damn wing off it and the nose off it and put the Road Runner front back on it so I could sell it.’” They sell for a lot now: The 20 wing cars that were offered at Mecum Kissimmee in 2023 ranged from a low of $308,000 to a high of $1.43 million.
Sergent’s wing cars are 10 Plymouth Superbirds, and one Dodge Daytona, which is rarer than the Plymouths. His Mopar collection is being offered at no reserve, so he won’t be taking any of them back home.
“After the kids got through school, I finally had some extra money and, rather than invest it back into stocks or something else I didn’t understand, I started buying classic cars. And the Superbirds—I think if you are a Mopar collector, you should have at least one. I was very fortunate to find that many of them. That’s where all my extra money went—into the wing cars, Hemi cars, Road Runners—it was fun collecting them but it’s time to change course.”
A central reason for that was some life-changing news Sergent got last year. “I was diagnosed with cancer, and I knew my kids didn’t want these cars, and dropping these on them is something I didn’t want to do—honestly, it changed my attitude towards the cars a little bit.
“I went through successful cancer surgery, went through all my radiation treatments, and my first follow-up is February 1, so I’m hoping to get good news there. I’m not looking for sympathy selling these cars—they’ll take care of themselves. But it’s just something I didn’t want my family to deal with in case something happens.
“This is the cream of the crop. When this is done I will have no wing cars, no original Hemi cars. I still have a 90-car collection, but I’m probably going to start paring that down soon.”
As a Chrysler and Dodge dealer, Sergent says he’ll miss the Hemi-powered Dodge Challengers and Chargers, and the Chrysler 300C, all of which went out of production at the end of last year.
“Everybody’s pushing the electric stuff,” he says. “I’m fortunate that Dodge came around with the Demon 170 one more time.” He has one of those 1025-horsepower Challengers coming, possibly replacing his daily driver, which is a Challenger Hellcat convertible. “It should be waiting for me when I get home from Kissimmee. I’m sure one of my kids will love to have that car—they like the modern stuff. But it is sad to see them going away.”
Does he expect to get a little emotional as the auctioneer’s gavel starts falling today? “I hope not. I’ve been preparing for this a long time. It’s time for them to go where they’re really appreciated, hopefully to fulfill a dream that some of the buyers have. I’ve been doing this for 41 years, and these are the best cars I’ve ever had.”