Up Close With an Authentic Plymouth Superbird
For those of you who haven’t heard, Plymouth Superbirds and Dodge Charger Daytonas are rare. Of course, they built the cars specifically so they could be run in “stock car” races of the day – races sanctioned by NASCAR, USAC and ARCA. Many of the cars were later rebodied as model years changed and quite a few were simply scrapped when they were worn out or replaced by newer cars.
A handful have survived and one of the most remarkable examples is the Ramo Stott #7 Superbird. The car is currently owned by Doug Schellinger and it looks pretty much the way it did when it ran in various circuits from 1970 – 1972. Stott spent much of his time in the ARCA circuits but also raced in USAC and NASCAR on occasion. He was two-time national champion in ARCA and this particular car won four races with Stott at the wheel (3 ARCA and 1 USAC). One race was the ARCA 300, the first race won by a Superbird. That win allowed him to enter the 1970 Daytona 500 (NASCAR waived his entry fee, at least) where he finished a respectable 8th in a race won by another Superbird, driven by Pete Hamilton.
Interestingly, after the car had won the ARCA race it would not pass the NASCAR inspection. NASCAR inspectors told Stott that his rear window was too high. Not the frame: the actual glass. He would have to lower it to run his car. After thinking about it for a bit he decided to try something unconventional. He took a blowtorch to the rear window glass. Heating it caused the glass to buckle in just enough for it to pass inspection. Photos from the race show odd reflections off the back glass and today the deformity in the glass is still visible if you stop and look at it.
Stott campaigned the car through the 1972 season–something which would not have been possible in NASCAR which had outlawed the cars the previous season. The other circuits also allowed some minor tweaks to the body which NASCAR rules would not have allowed. Notice that the air intake at the front of the nose is similar to that of the Charger Daytona – but unlike that of the street Superbird. The placement Stott used was better for engine cooling.
When Stott finally parked the car, it had a blown engine. He sold it and it has changed hands a few times. The blown engine was replaced with a street Hemi, but all the parts you can see are from the race engine. So, it looks correct, sounds great and it runs. Schellinger has also collected a huge trove of photos and news articles about Stott and the car. Using this collection he has documented all of the details of the car to an amazing degree. For example, there is an almost imperceptible ding in the right rear quarter by the back bumper. Schellinger knows which race the dent happened in. Someone else provided him a photograph which shows details of the welds on the car’s passenger side A-pillar from back in the day. In case anyone wants to argue about whether the car is authentic, they’ll lose.
There is no question this car is Stott’s Superbird. And if you want to see it just check out winged car events. Schellinger brings it to more than a few each year and it isn’t hard to spot with its funky – and correct – paintjob.