How many winged wonders is too many?


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Can there ever be too much of a good thing? It’s a well-worn question, but one we ask quite a bit at Hagerty Insider, particularly when applied to supply, demand, and old cars. Sifting through the intricacies of this hobby all day will do that to you. It’s surely a question that auction companies ask themselves, too. I even overheard passersby utter it a few times last week at Mecum Kissimmee, the world’s largest collector car auction. They could have been referencing anything—from the over 4000 vehicles that crossed the block to the abundance of certain models. Indeed, we noticed several instances of high-spec, perfect cars selling strongly while lesser cars experienced more no-sales and mixed results relative to their estimates.

In this context, couldn’t help but think of the 20(!) Mopar aero cars (the Dodge Charger Daytona and Plymouth Road Runner Superbird that briefly dominated NASCAR in 1969-70), most of them from a single collection. Some were perfect. Others weren’t. Some had desirable colors, which can make a surprisingly big difference in the Mopar muscle world. Others didn’t. Over three percent of all the Hemi-powered wing cars ever built were available to the highest bidder. So, can there be too much of a winged thing?

Bobby Allison NASCAR racer Daytona

There are all sorts of factors that go into how we price cars for the Hagerty Price Guide, but there are even more variables when you throw vehicles into an auction setting. Timing, marketing, makeup of consignments, even the weather can affect who’s bidding. What auction companies have the most control over is what goes across the block and when, so they put a lot of time and energy into this bit of car choreography.

Which brings us back to our age-old question and group of pointy-nosed muscle machines. On the one hand, bringing 20 of these rare cars (comprised of 503 Daytonas and about 2000 Superbirds) certainly grabs the attention of those shopping for a wing car. And, theoretically, it sets a bidders against each other, pushing prices up and up. On the other hand, so many of the same car in one spot also means bidders can choose to be picky. With all choices of color, options, transmission and engine, lesser cars might get passed over.

It appears that some of the latter happened in Kissimmee. Of the 11 Dodge Daytonas, two stood fairly clearly above the rest. Both cracked the world-record price and tied each other at $1.43M each. One was an ex-Bobby Allison NASCAR racer, and the other was a pristine, super low-mile Hemi four-speed car, the same one that comedian David Spade bought in 2015 for $990K. Only three Daytonas have brought over $1M at auction before. Meanwhile, seven of the Daytonas sold for well under their presale estimates, including one for $308K against a $375K estimate. It was a 440/375-hp car with an automatic (the least desirable drivetrain), and although its color combination of Yellow over Saddle is apparently one-of-one, it’s not the kind of loud shade that Mopar fans typically pay a premium for.

Most of the Superbirds sold under their estimates as well, including some of the Hemis. But to show just how much details matter, let’s point out that a Limelight Green Hemi four-speed with its original drivetrain sold for $852,000, while a Lemon Twist Hemi with an automatic and a replacement engine brought $517,000. That Lemon Twist Superbird might have been the star attraction at another auction. Here, it faded into the background.

Granted, none of the 20 brought bargain-basement numbers, and all the prices were well above what they would have been a couple of years ago. But after 2022’s nearly nonstop growth, the more nuanced results for this group made for a compelling spectacle. Will top-shelf cars still fly high and lower spec rides start to soften? It’s something we’ll be keeping an eye out for as we pick apart the numbers from Kissimmee and Scottsdale in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

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    I used to think these cars were interesting 20 years ago when they were just rare and a little quirky. Now that they have moved hard into the world of unobtanium, I actually look to them with a bit of sadness as these cars built to go 200 mph aren’t going to break 5 miles per hour as they get loaded and unloaded from trailers at yet another auction and spend the rest of the time in a checkerboard-floored perfect garage getting stared at

    In Oct 2022, I bought a U code Limelight bird. I only got it out 3 times before winter set in (I live in SE Pa.). I assure you, it’s done more than 5 mph!!! Nothing near 200, but WAY over 5!!!

    These cars are in demand and supply is good.

    Now the Hemi will always be worth big money but the 440/superbirds are subject to demand and supply with a bit of option tossed in.

    The Allison car is a race car and really in a whole other class as would any restored race car with good history.

    Time will tell. The Dodge really is a rare car but the Superbird not so much.m

    Really glad I got to drive a hemi bird back in the 70s. Friend owned a business specializing in selling rare muscle, mostly Mopar. No, not high speed….mostly moving from the lot to his house or vice versa. Still, 18 year old kid, hemis, 440s, AAR cudas, seems like a distant dream now of cars I can’t even afford to look at.

    Eric, I never got to drive a Hemi but at 20 years old I did build and drive a 426 Wedge with an automatic trick shift, remove the 318, shorten the drive shaft and stuff it all in a ‘65 Belvedere 2 with Hooker Headers and have some awesome fun like you did. I sold it and bought a ‘69 Barracuda 318 with a Hurst 4 speed. I miss them both and yeah couldn’t afford either now. Glad I did it too.

    I have owned a Superbird 440 4-speed car for over 20 years and although I never went over 150mph, it has caused many wrinkles in my face from constantly smiling. The Winged cars are an important part of history that can never be taken away. It doesn’t matter if you love then or not they are muscle and race car history.

    Back in the mid 70’s when I was a kid, there used to be a Plymouth Superbird that sat on a main street in front of a rental house. Hard to think about how much that car would be worth today if it was in good shape. back then it was a used car with the usual problems that Illinois cars got. Lots of muscle cars in the area sitting outside of crappy rental houses: ’69 SS Camaro convertible, ’69 Firebird 400, ’70 GTO, etc.

    Dan, a rare one, a 1969 factory “Hurst Barracuda” I knew back then it was a collector car. I bought it in 1970, my daily driver and fun to drive. The weirdest Hurst shifter ever had 3 bends from the boot to your hand with the Hurst-T handle. The Hurst Barracuda came with a wide stripe on the upper sides from the nose to the tail of the car.

    Steve, are you talking about a 1969 Savage Barracuda? Those were a very limited run of heavily modified conversions done by a company in Wisconsin.

    I was in high school when these came out. They were ugly and nobody would buy one back then. To me, they are still ugly and would not one now.

    I’m with you. Back in the late sixties and early seventies I had a 68 396 Chevelle and then a 69 442 convertible. Miss them both and wish I still had either one. I always thought the Superbirds and the Daytona’s were ugly then and I still feel the same way.

    they were silly looking back then; they are silly looking today. They served a purpose. I applaud Dodge/Plymouth for investing in innovations for racing. I would love to own one that had raced back in the day. But driving it on the street today? Not me. Nor could I imagine driving one on the street back then. But, to each his own.

    I like the one in Joe Dirt, would love to drive around in a car that looked like that. There was a SSP foxbody coupe (notch) here a while back, dents and dings everywhere, peeling paint, bondo, a couple patches, a few odd colors plus bare metal here and there. Ran great though and selling ‘cheap’… I loved the look, should have looked at it. Joe Dirt car for sure.

    I wish I had known then what I know now! Worked as a “lot boy” for a Pontiac dealer when I was 16. Saw bunches of these traded in for GTO’s/Firebird’s & could have bought them dirt cheap. I thought they looked goofy then and still do so (if I had the space & $) I would have had no proplem parking them! Used car manager paid me to trash one of them that had been there for over a year (and went to auction at least 4 times with no buyer even at a loss). I was glad to do it as I was the one that had to fill all 4 of the leaking air wheels & tires up every day. “Ed” made the statement : “I’d pay somebody $50 to steal that damned thing & wreck it.” I was 16, held out my hand & had a blast making sure it wasn’t coming back in one piece.

    I Lived in Ohio around 1972 when I was about 21 years old. My next door neighbor bought a used SuperBird with less than 10K on the clock for $1800. He sold it and bought a 440 Six Pack Cuda. After that a Pantera. It was always fun to hear him come and go because he really drove them LOL

    I’m fairly certain I commented on this before.

    The auction of these cars was fun and crazy to watch at the same time.

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