As a young man of 16 I was well on my way to be a gear head. My 2 best friends each had an older brother; this was well before video games, the internet or DVDs. Pete's brother had a 64 1/2 R Code 427 Galaxy and Doug's brother had a 66 Hemi Charger. They would take us to the cruse strip and race every Friday and Saturday night. The Charger must of had a better gear selection because he would win about 90% of the time. Needless to say this made me a MOPAR fan. In 1968 the Roadrunner made its debut and the first time I heard the Beep-Beep horn I was hooked. I had worked mowing lawns and painting houses since I was 13. Just graduated in 1969 and was waiting to see the new 1971 Roadrunners. After seeing a couple on the street I decided that I like the 70 body style better and of course they were discounting the 70 models. I took my $3,500 went to the local Plymouth dealer to see what he had. I entered the showroom only to see a Vitamin C Superbird --- IT WAS LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT --- I think that the janitor is still mopping up the drool today. The salesman informed me that I did not have enough money for the Superbird, but was lucky enough to leave that day with a Vitamin C, 383, 4-speed car. I vowed that someday I would have a Superbird. Never give up on your dreams!!!!!!
The story of how I found my HEMI, 4-SPEED, SUPERBIRD, by BOB
In May of 1982 I was driving my 70 Charger R/T and stopped at the Unocal gas station in Bothell. I really did not need gas, but it was something to do. After filling up the attendant ask if I really like those old MOPARS and I said "YOU BET". That is when he told me that there was a Superbird for sale just down the street, followed by saying "I think it is a HEMI". I stopped dead in my tracts and asked where?
He said at Knoll Lumber in Kenmore. Now at that time I was a painting
contractor and was a customer at Bothell Paint just across the street from the Unocal station.
I went in to the paint store and asked the manager if he would do me a favor. I knew that both he and the lumber yard stocked Olympic Stain and that they traded stock back and forth. I asked him to call Knoll and ask if
there was a Superbird there, which he did with a puzzled look on his face. Craig Knoll said sure enough and to send me down to take look at the car. The Bird sat under a carport with the nose unprotected and the headlights filled with water, what a GREAT SIGHT! Craig said that the car belonged to his brother who had just passed away and that he was handling the estate. The car was in storage and would be the last thing that he would deal with. I asked if it was OK to bring a friend down to look at the car, and Craig said it would be OK.
I had never even rode in a HEMI car let alone drive one and knew very little about them, so I went home and called the local expert Brian Boyett. The next day we went to look at the car, Brian said it was a real HEMI car but that the motor had been changed. We spent about 4 hours trying to get her fired off for she had been sitting for a couple of years and finally success.
The car had front-end damaged and a loaded gravel truck had hit the rear passenger side quarter panel. There was a black '67 Coronet R/T interior in her and the 4-speed had been replaced with a 727 torqueflite. After scrapping up as much money as I could, I went and made an offer on the car. By this time 2 other people had found out about the car and Craig said that he would give them 72 hours to beat my offer. This was on a Thursday morning, now just to wait (chewing off finger nails left and right), but Friday evening Craig called and said to have a tow truck and a pick-up truck their Monday morning at 6:00 AM before the store opened, when we arrived the tow truck started to hook the car and Craig took us upstairs where there was a complete nosecone, fenders, hood and a spare wing in storage. Craig said that his brother had 3 of these cars and that a dealer in Seattle could not sell his Bird so he made is a regular Roadrunner and was tired of counting these parts in inventory and for Charles to come and please take them off his hands. Charles said OK and gave them $100 and 2 six
packs of beer for the parts.
While finishing the money transaction Craig told me that I was getting the car because he could see how much I loved the car and that the other 2 buyers were just looking at the car as an investment. Then he asks me what I did for a living? I told him I was a painting contractor. He asked if I had ever done painting for a certain contractor. I said I had done a very nice house for him down in the O O Denny Park area. Craig said he thought he
remembered seeing me and that was his house. He had like my work so much that he said he was building a new house out in the Monroe area and asked if I would give him labor bid. We got another job out of this deal.
Many people say you lucky guy! But for 12 years ever since the dealer told me I could not afford a Superbird I had been making trips to Eastern WA, OR and ID looking at cars that were to expensive or that were in such a terrible condition they were not worth the effort, so if you really want something take aim and move your feet.
As many of you know I have total fun with my car, sometimes I get grief about driving the car as much as I do, but the real fun is driving it not looking at it on a trailer or in the garage. Besides I want my tombstone to read “HE DROVE HIS HEMI CAR EVERWHERE’. Here is to your dreams and MOPAR to ya.
Fast forward to phase II. October 2007
Fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride in my Superbird. I got the car home and with the help of Steve Blackwell, we changed the fluids, did a tune up and put fresh gas in the tank. Now it was time for the first test drive. Neither Steve or I had ever driven a hemi car. Once we enjoyed the smell of hemi exhaust at the All Mopar Spring Round-up at Lake Sammish. We fired her off and went for a ride. After about a half hour Steve took over driving. He said let's see what she will do and with that into first gear we went, he banged second gear and all hell broke loose. The fan clutch was rusty and snapped of the end of the shaft and went through the radiator.
This was the start of the many things that needed to be done to the car.
I always tried to do at least one improvement to the car each year. The first couple of years were dedicated to finding parts. I found the 4 speed, bell housing and clutch. Then I came across a hemi k-frame out of a 67 Coronet roll over. I spent a couple of years looking for a good quarter panel. I installed the front end clip that came with the car (selling the dented parts to a gentleman whose car had be hit and the nose clip was replaced with standard front end - putting another Superbird back on the road again), putting the 4 speed in, taking out the wood paneling on the doors and
installing the white interior. Then the car went to Dwayne Tannis's brother to have the quarter installed. When working on the car he found an unopened small canned ham (someone's lunch on the line I am sure) under the quarter glass. The car was now white in the front, gray on the doors and blue in the rear. Everyone called it the rainbow bird.
In the late 1980's the car was sent to Macco and painted. When I picked up the car it was pretty close to B-5 blue, but with the ageing process it started to turn turquoise in color. Ray Guardiano applied the graphics and buffed the car out. Again I drove it everywhere.
In 1999 I along with 5 other aero car owners took our cars to the 25th year winged car reunion in Talladega, Alabama. Two weeks of driving the car you LOVE everyday. We traveled over 7,500 miles in those two weeks. At the reunion I was chastised for driving my car. Everyone thought it should have been trailered. But like I have already stated I DRIVE IT!
In the early 2000's I had Steve rebuild the 70 hemi block I had found at a garage sale. We installed a 70 k-frame, up graded the torsion and sway bars, installed stainless brake lines and welded a crack in the shock tower. Bill Dunn then sprayed on a coat of B-5 blue to the engine bay. We installed the engine and trans as a complete unit from the bottom just as they did in the factory. The car was now very road worthy.
In August of 02 I meet my wife Sharon. We meet on line and soon were talking every night. I always ended each conversation talking about the bird. One evening she said - I AM NOT JELLIOUS OF THE BIRD. I told her that if she did not enjoy talking about the bird, she might not like the life style. Needless to say she enjoys the bird very much. She enjoys going to the
shows, but was not happy that the car was over looked because of the low BLING factor. It was her insistence on making it shine and stand out in the crowd. So in the fall of 07 I asked Darren to start the repaint project. As with most restorations the scope kept getting larger and larger, but in the end the car looks fantastic. Another typical car story that ended up taking more time than originally planned. We were going to surprise everyone and debute the car in 08, but best made plans of mice and men. The hard part was not being able to drive the car for two years, but will make up for that very fast.
When it comes to Superbirds and Daytona's most of the Chevy and Ford guys don't really understand what they are looking at when they see one.
Most of them just do not have a clue about their NASCAR history. I refer to my favorite Don Rae saying "Hamburger is a pretty good thing - UNTIL you have a taste of prime rib".