With the chassis mods complete, the project didn't get any easier when it came time to recreate the Superbird's skin. The '70 Satellite Year One started out with was poorly restored in the past, and needed to have just about every single one of its panels replaced. In order to transform a plain-Jane B-body into a Superbird, Phil and company grafted on a nosecone and rear wing assembly from Wing Car Fabrication, however, the real challenge was in the details. "A project like this isn't as easy as sticking a nose and wing on it and calling it a day," Phil quips. "Things like the fender blisters, front spoiler, gas cap, and window straps take a long time to make it look just right. Satellites had much larger rear windshields than Road Runners, so we had to add sheetmetal around the opening to make it smaller and give the car a humpback look. For the paint, Kevin thought that straight Petty blue would be too unoriginal, so we came up with a custom two-tone black-and-blue scheme."

Perhaps the most extreme aspect of the Superbird's restructured DNA is its contemporary Sprint Cup running gear. Other than a slight drop in compression ratio for pump gas compatibility, the 358ci small-block isn't any different than the motors that powered Kasey Kahne and Elliot Sadler last season. It zings freely to 9,000 rpm, and kicks out 780 hp. "It can be driven on the street, but this setup obviously isn't for a daily driver," Phil opines. "Being such a small motor that makes so much power, it's very nervous, and an absolute riot to drive." Backing up the Cup mill is a super lightweight NASCAR-spec Tex Racing four-speed manual, which routes power to a Chrysler 8-inch rearend.

Making a cool story even better is that Bill Goldberg's plan all along was to auction off the Superbird, and donate the proceeds to the Darrell Gwynn Foundation. As expected, the plan worked out quite well. At Barrett-Jackson last January, the car sold for $551,000. While it won't cost you quite that much to build a Superbird clone of your own, Kevin offers a few caveats. "A project like this is an extremely long, drawn-out, and expensive process," he says. "It takes a tremendous amount of research and fabrication skills to pull off. I'm not sure if we will or will not offer parts in our catalog for a buildup like this, but we'll be more than happy to help anyone out with advice if they give us a call."

With all due respect to the car presented before us, a large part of why it stirs up so much emotion isn't so much because of the car itself, but because of what the car represents. By 1971--in a move aimed squarely at Chrysler's aero cars that dominated at the track the prior year with tops speeds of over 220 mph--NASCAR placed severe displacement and weight handicaps on such creations. It marked the beginning of the end of NASCAR's glory days.

Homologation rules got the boot, and efforts to slow the race cars down have continued to this day. Sadly, what were once hot rodded production-based cars would soon become tube-frame machines with skins that vaguely resembled production cars, before evolving into tube-frame machines that resembled production cars only with their sticky vinyl. In many technological respects, this modern Superbird is superior to those crafted at Richard Petty's shop in 1970. Nevertheless, the fact that the Year One build crew turned to a 40-year-old race car for guidance is a testament to the ingenuity of the original craftsmen, and reinforces why many consider the NASCAR aero cars the greatest hot rods ever built.

Bill Goldberg * San Diego, CA
Type: NASCAR-spec 358ci small-block Chrysler
Block: Spec Mopar R5 iron bored to 4.185 inches
Oiling: custom dry sump with rear-mounted storage tank
Rotating assembly: custom 3.250-inch billet crank, steel rods, and 10.5:1 forged pistons
Cylinder heads: spec Mopar P7 aluminum castings
Camshaft: solid flat-tappet lobes; duration, lift, and LSA specs classified
Valvetrain: custom belt-drive and steel shaft-mount 2:1 rockers
Induction: spec Mopar single-plane intake manifold, Holley 830-cfm carb
Ignition: MSD billet distributor and ignition box
Fuel system: NASCAR-spec billet mechanical pump, Fuel Safe fuel cell
Exhaust: custom 2-inch headers and 3.5-inch oval X-pipe; Flowmaster mufflers
Output: 780 hp at 8,500 rpm and 545 lb-ft at 6,700 rpm
Built by: Gillett Evernham Motorsports
Transmission: Tex Racing NASCAR four-speed manual and clutch
Rear axle: Chrysler 8¾-inch rearend, 742 center section,
33-spline axles, 3.90:1 gears, Detroit Locker differential
Front suspension: Magnum Force tubular K-member, upper- and lower-control arms,
and steering rack; QA1 coilovers, NASCAR-spec sway bar
Rear suspension: custom four-link and NASCAR-style track bar; QA1 coilovers
Brakes: Baer 13-inch rotors with six-piston calipers front and rear
Wheels: NASCAR-spec 15x10 front and rear
Tires: BFGoodrich g-Force 27x10 slicks
Year One
PO Box 129
GA  30085