Richard Petty Museum
The photographs that follow were taken at the Richard Petty Museum in
Level Cross, North Carolina during the Fall of 1992 and 2001. Although several
automobiles were on display (including a white, street SuperBird), the
focus here is primarily on the racing SuperBird. This SuperBird was
never actually driven by Petty in a NASCAR event (at least not as a
SuperBird), but it none-the-less serves as a fairly faithful reproduction
of the ones that were.
The following excerpt is from the November, 1977 issue of the Winged
Warriors/B-Body Review, and it sheds some light into the origins of
the Bird pictured below. The interviewer was George Tamasi (GT), and the
interview begins with an answer by Richard Petty (RP) to an unspecified question by
Tamasi, but it obviously concerned the SuperBird. At that time Petty was
apparently still in the process of completing the SuperBird.
RP: Yes, this one here is my project. No rush on this one, just careful time-consuming work.
Tamasi then asks why Petty is building the
RP: Well, the way I look at it, these cars were killed before they ever had a chance to
peak at their possible potential. We first got the idea with the Bird in the trophy
room. One day we up and got the notion and we all decided to reconstruct a Bird,
updating the car with every new trick we could come up with.
GT: What was the car's origin?
RP: Well, it was a Road Runner. And we used a race SuperBird front end
we had out back and a wing and a rear window conversion kit that a USAC stock car team
had left over that we had sold them. We had hoped in 1970 to put the rear wing of the
Bird on the short track Road Runner for a slight gain, but the rules said no.
GT: The trophy room Bird is in running condition then?
RP: Oh yea, it will start up just fine, all you'd need is gas and top
off some oil, but the car is setting in running condition.
A surviving SuperBird chassis piloted by Petty in 1970 is owned by
Hugh Hawthorne of Richmond, Virginia. Richard briefly discussed how
Mr. Hawthorne ended up with the car in an interview found in the
February/March, 1993 issue of Mopar Muscle Magazine:
Mopar Muscle: The SuperBird in Richmond belongs to a private collector?
RP: Yeah. Built a room on the back of his house for it. Name is Hugh Hawthorne
in South Richmond. I've known him all my life. He's a big collector of cars and stuff.
He's got a bunch of Richard Petty stuff. Anyhow, he wanted one of the SuperBirds so we let
him have it. I think I ended up with a bulldozer or something.
The three photos below were taken in November, 2005, and are courtesy of Robert