Government Surplus Auctions Can Yield Amazing Treasures

Indeed, car shoppers looking for a bargain can potentially find fleet gold at surplus auctions, where municipal, county, state, and federal agencies dispose of (usually) lightly used domestic cars and trucks. Knowing how those agencies use their vehicles can make or break the value of your find; buying an ex-Border Patrol Raptor in Texas may not be the best idea if you want a long-lived, trouble free truck.

A keen eye and a bit of luck, however, can yield a magnificent treasure. In 1979, a high-school shop teacher spotted this old Plymouth up for bid, and took it home for a measly $500. It’ no ordinary Plymouth, of course it’s the legendary Superbird, with the NASCAR-ready homologation wing and aero nose.

It’s up for auction again in October, though it’ll cross the stage under bright lights and TV cameras at the glitzy Barrett-Jackson auction in Las Vegas instead of a dreary government service facility. As these rare Birds tend to trade for well over six figures, we’d have to say this is likely the best surplus find yet.

However, the story behind this example might make it worth even more: This particular Superbird was owned by the Environmental Protection Agency.

As sage muscle car guru Steve Magnante tells it on Barrett-Jackson’s site, the EPA needed a way to test the emissions of jet airliners, and the method they determined was to load up a car with sensors and testing equipment, then drag race the airplanes as they hustled down the runway. However, no normal car would suffice, so the EPA contracted Nichels Engineering of NASCAR fame to butch up this already lean muscle car.

As the low nose and high wing of the Superbird was designed to improve downforce and stability around Daytona’s oval, the same features kept the car planted in the jetwash of the big airplanes. The tall wing also provided an ideal platform for air sampling away from the turbulence generated by the body of the car.

Nearly 40 years after being saved from the scrap heap, this 440-powered 1970 Plymouth Superbird has been restored to look just as it did when taxiing with the jets, with all its EPA equipment included. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a truly unique piece of Mopar and government history.

*Sourced via The Truth About Cars