Winged Warriors/National B-Body Owners Association
Hemi SuperBird Restoration Seminar

By David Patik and Greg Rager; photos by Sue George

Greg Rager: The correct radiator for the Hemi 4-speed is part #2998956. An automatic radiator would be one digit off. Both radiators have identical top and bottom tanks. The difference is the 4-speed radiator used the same bottom tank but did not have the cooling unit in the tank. So the assembly plant needed the two different part numbers to differentiate between the two radiators. The original correct radiator overflow hose is a unique size and has ridges running the length of the hose. This is a very hard to find item.

On the top of the radiator core support, you will find the VIN that matches the car's VIN. Sometimes the anti-freeze decal is applied so that it covers up this VIN. This particular car is stamped so that its VIN numbers almost missed even getting on the support! This is the first time I've ever seen this.

Another matching VIN is found on the driver's side trunk weatherstrip lip. The number on this SuperBird is "A0170172". This translates into: A=Lynch Road Assembly Plant and O=1970. The next six digits are the car's matching serial number.

The VIN will be found in five different places on the car. On the dash, radiator support, trunk weatherstrip lip, engine block and on the transmission. On a 4-speed, it will be stamped into the machined boss on the right side; on an automatic, it will be found stamped into the machined boss on the aluminum bell-housing area.

Prior to 1969, only Hemi cars got 3-speed wipers as a mandatory option. In 1969, the 3-speed wiper motor was mandatory with Fresh Air option. This was because the big oval 2X4 bbl air cleaner wouldn't clear the 2-speed wiper motor, which sticks out from the firewall instead of laying parallel to it like the 3-speed wiper motor does (Photo hsrs1).

The wiper motor on this SuperBird has a date code of "3079" which translates to the 307th day of 1969. Since this car was built in November 1969, the wiper motor date code is correct, as it falls within a three month window of the car's build date.

The correct wiper blade arms for SuperBirds and other cars of this era had a brushed finish. There should be a "15B" stamped on them (Photo hsrs2). The word "Trico" will appear on the factory blades, about 1 1/4" from the end. Trico was the original supplier to Chrysler.

David Patik: The vacuum canister is mounted underneath of the battery tray. If it is rotted out, you can replace it with a tomato juice can.

Only on SuperBirds will you find a hole in the firewall behind the brake vacuum booster with a grommet in it. This is for the vacuum hoses to pass through (Photos hsrs3a and hsrs3b). A GTX, Satellite or RoadRunner would only have a dimple embossed into the firewall there. Holes were cut out in the metal shop area of the assembly plant, where the bodies were framed up in bare metal. A hole saw with a pilot bushing was used. The bushing goes into the hole. Factory holes were always very neat and located in the right place.

The SuperBirds had three hood anti-rattle bumpers located on each inner fender (Photo hsrs4). These keep the hood from bouncing around and banging into the fenders. Daytonas do not have any of these. This is one good example of how the SuperBirds were built better than the Daytonas.

On the firewall area where the cowl meets the firewall, when a car was being welded together, all of this type of welding was done with a spot welder with tremendous pressure of the tongs squeezing together. But that was a problem with an area like this, with bare metal being attached to bare metal, because it would rust out in the joint. There was no way to paint it or get paint into it when it was dunked.

So Chrysler developed special sealers that allowed the electric current [from the welder] to pass through from this metal to the underlying metal that it would weld to. Then when the car was sent through the baking oven when it was in primer, the very high heat of the baking oven would expand that foam to fill up the entire area between the welds. You will see on every Chrysler product where some of it leaks out in little bubbles. Hardly anyone restoring a car thinks to make those little leakers that poke out (Photos hsrs5a and hsrs5b). These leakers would have body paint on them. Where the firewall meets the inner fender and cowl, a big glob of rubberized sealer was used. This original stuff on one side of the car doesn't appear to have any paint on it and yet on this other side it does (Photos hsrs6a and hsrs6b).

The A-pillar stainless mouldings on a SuperBird have two very large, fat, very short phillips screws that go into the A-post. The trim is pushed into the split in the gap of the rubber seal and there is no sealer here. Daytonas use three long skinny screws to go in from the back and are buried in the rubber in the front. Daytonas use sealer here.

There are 23 rivinuts on a SuperBird nosecone. They insert into the holes from the outside and are squeezed so you can attach bolts from the outside without using a wrench on the inside. The bolts that attach a SuperBird spoiler are 1/4" X20 with a recessed inner part of the head and a captive washer with no serration, just a flat washer loose from the head. These are different than what a Daytona uses.

There is a number "12" written in crayon on the front of the driver's side valve cover of this Hemi SuperBird. This refers to the assembly number of the engine, refers to whether it it intended to be an automatic or a 4-speed manual.

Greg Rager: When the 1968 B-Bodies first came out, the dealers had a tremendous amount of complaints about wind noise when all the windows were closed. The dealers did everything they could to figure out where the wind noise came from. The entire 1968 model year went by and no one really had a solution to the problem.

Early in 1969, a technical service bulletin came out from Chrysler, a TSB indicating that you were to put a small amount of dumdum right at the forward edge of the wing vent frame (Photo hsrs7a and hsrs7b). In 1970, they were doing that routinely on the assembly line and it was no longer left to the dealership to do.

You can see the frame does not quite come all the way forward-it stops short and leaves a gap and that's where the wind noise was coming in. For the car to be correctly restored, it should have a small amount of dumdum caulk-both the driver's side and passenger's side-forward of the wing vent frame.

Looking at the rear window plug trim panels [the triangular shaped trim pieces], on most restored SuperBirds you'll see that right at the mating line of the L-shaped [vinyl top trim] part of these filler panels, they'll run masking tape down at the bottom of the L-shaped piece before painting them. This gives the appearance that they are two separate pieces. On this original unrestored car, you can see the white body color actually intrudes somewhat up into the black L-shaped piece.

David Patik: This SuperBird has the Deluxe Seat Belts. This is a very rare option. [The buckles are black grained vinyl with rectangular shaped chrome inserts]. Both the seat belts and the shoulder belts have retainers on the belt to hold the extra material in place.

The Plymouth lettering on this car is in the right location. You'll often see restored cars with the lettering installed at an angle. The "P" is 1" from the top of the marker light and 7" from the rear of the car. There is 6" between the wheelwell opening and the "T". There is no lettering emblem that says "RoadRunner" on SuperBird quarter scoops.

This car has something very unusual-especially on a Hemi car. It has door edge protective mouldings. They are bolted to the door and are actually form-fitting. Note that it goes all the way down to the bottom of the door; it's not an aftermarket one where one size fits all. This is a relatively rare option on any SuperBird, but certainly on a Hemi SuperBird. The knob on the outside door handles is chrome, not black plastic like on some cars. There are no mouldings around the wheelwells. SuperBirds did not have those. The wheelwell is just painted all the way around. The correct tires are Goodyear Polyglas GT, raised white letters in F60X15 size and this car has 15" Rallye wheels.

Looking at the top surface of the wing's horizontal bar, there are two lines running the length. These are called extrusion lines. These were part of the mold and go all the way across the wing. A lot of people frequently like to make their wing nice and smooth-they're not supposed to be nice and smooth. It's supposed to have these lines all the way across-all wings have those.

There are some interesting things found only on a SuperBird. One is on the trunk hinge, a little plate welded on (Photo hsrs8). It looks to be about 1" by 1 1/2". The little plate is welded on both the right and left hinges. The reason for it is to prevent the deck lid from going up too far, because if it did, it would hit the wing or more importantly, squish your fingers between the deck lid and the wing. So they took the time to weld each one of those on. The other thing is an unused bracket [at the left forward edge of the trunk opening] for the switch for the trunk light to go into, but to my knowledge few, if any, SuperBirds ever had a trunk light so that bracket was just welded in and left there (Photo hsrs9).

Just under the trunk opening sides, we see the inner edge of the brace that goes under the quarter panel (Photo hsrs10-1). That brace was used to strengthen the quarter skin so that when the wing is under high load and high speed, it doesn't warp the quarter panel. The brace is spot welded and this is a very important part when you are looking to see if a SuperBird is an original or just made up. If you look inside the trunk rain trough, you would see many spot welds-it looks like about 15 of them or more.

Inside the trunk are the wing braces. At the bottom [near the trunk floor] is a bracket that measures about 4 1/2" by 4". This little bracket is white-the color of the car-and is welded to the trunk floor with bead welding. That bracket has a little lip that faces forward on the bottom and the rear side of the bracket is bolted to the wing "V" brace. The "V" brace is made out of heavy sheet metal and is always black (Photo hsrs10). It's purpose is to connect the trunk floor to two of the four studs that protrude down from the wing and its overall purpose is to keep the wing straight and to keep it from warping the quarter panel. At high speeds, even with a street car, there would be significant downforce. The bottom bracket on the floor was welded in before the car was painted, in the metal shop when the car was being framed up, so it will be body color. There will be no white [or body color] overspray on the "V" braces because they were put in after the car was painted. The wing was also painted off the car.

Moving on to the jack-and with this car, we have a good example of factory workmanship-or lack of. The base for the rear bumper jack is a solid "T-post" variety. Here on the side of the base is a label that says "Caution: Follow jacking instructions". Then we have another little label stuck off to the left on a weird angle-one right on top of the other! There is a great example of a way to personalize your car. When this car is restored, if that would be done that way, everybody would say: 'What kind of sloppy work is that?' But it is the way it was done for this car.

By the way, it would be unexpected to have a solid "T-post" jack in a SuperBird, but it's obviously possible. The solid "T-post" was named so because the shape of the post is a "T" and it's solid. The more common jack for a SuperBird would be the hollow tube jack which would have a cut-out post. The base and hook are gray. The deep style lug wrench that this car has is black. The hold-down bracket for the jack post is also black.

The front jack of a SuperBird is made by the Custer Manufacturing Company and it is an odd cheap little design that was actually a death trap to use. It had a nasty habit, with its flimsy little arms, of collapsing off to one side. It should be painted flat black. It has an odd little ball bearing in the front. There is a difference between the original and what someone has discovered to be an excellent copy-an updated version. The little collar on the front of the original jack is about 1 1/4" long as opposed to the current jack which is about 2" long. The original jack does not say "Made In Mexico" underneath like the current jacks.

A stud is welded to the trunk floor and there is plenty of seam sealer around it. There is a heavy duty steel plate that goes on the stud and a wing nut holds it on. The plate is painted black. This plate holds onto the jack base on one side and holds onto the handle on the other side (Photo hsrs11). We believe the original jack handle is from a pickup truck from the late 1960's made by Chrysler. These are all very valuable pieces.

Inside the trunk on the axle hump is one line which is a vent line for the gas tank. It has a 1 1/4" rubber grommet where it passes through the floor. One of the things on a car that is not easy to reproduce, but if you want to do it right, you'll need to find some sealer that looks like one tarry, gooey mess. That's exactly what this is. It's only in the passenger's compartment on the seams and goes back as far as the forward half of the top of the axle hump in the trunk. They used to put that sealer all the way to the rear of the trunk, but one day in the early 1960's, when the wife of the Chrysler President had her luggage dirtied by the tar, from that day forward, Chrysler decided to not use the tarry sealer in the trunk. That's a good example of how things were done-a big gooey mess all across this hump.

On the sides of the trunk floor, where the wheelhouse area meets the trunk floor, there is white sealer that is a whole different composition than the tarry stuff in the front. There's lots of it applied, it's very thick and not very neatly applied. To have it look original, you'll have to have the sealer applied in gobs in some places. And in other places, like in the forward corner up here in the trunk, it will be two inches thick. That same sealer runs along the length of the quarter extension where it meets the trunk floor all the way to the back of the trunk (Photos hsrs12 and hsrs13).

Here is something you will never, ever find on reproduction trunk weatherstripping. This original weatherstrip has the part number on it, you can see the number 2482852 and then the letters "DX" are right beside it and next to that are the letters "DPCD". If you look further out on the weatherstrip, you will see that the number repeats. And the weatherstrip is formed to fit the deck lid opening, unlike the repros which are just simple rubber. The yellow weatherstrip adhesive is exposed on the sides of the trunk opening-it is oozing out of the weatherstrip. If you want to do a car original, that's the kind of thing that you do.

David Patik: There is some controversy over whether the little bird on the rear of the car goes just 5/16" to the right of the trunk opening or does he go a little further? He is a 5-color bird on white reflective paper. One thing unusual to find on this car is the original dealer's sticker, which is not only unusual because it survived all that long, but because what used to be here under it was the RoadRunner metal emblems. If you feel through this sticker, the holes are still here on the deck lid for those emblems. And one thing the club likes to do is provide templates for people to locate emblems and parts on these cars, so we've made a little template if anyone needs to know where the RoadRunner lettering emblem goes, because on SuperBirds, the rear stripe was not used. It was always the script (Photo hsrs14).

Moving down to the tail light bezel, on 1970 RoadRunners, when they painted the back of the car, it was very important that this bezel be painted with the car. The last thing Chrysler wanted was for stuff like this to be painted off the car. So what they had was approximately 2" spacers that would hold this bezel out from the car and allow the painter to get paint in all areas inside this and all around the bezel.

When it was dried in the baking oven, the bezel was taken out and the spacers were taken off, then the bezel was pushed in and the nuts were put on, thereby making it rustproof and all one color. There should be color over the seam sealer in the vertical seam below the bezel.

The Plymouth letters on the tail light panel are chrome with black paint inserts. On the inside of the trunk, the letters have a nut on them with black seam sealer on them. Little things like that they took great care to do as best they could.

Greg Rager: When I worked at Latenburger Chrysler-Plymouth in Johnstown, Pennsylvania...we never sold a SuperBird new by the way...but part of the dealer prep process done on all cars, every car would come in with two sets of keys-one for the doors and ignition and the other for the glovebox and trunk. Part of the process was that we would give the buyer of the car two key cases. We would put one set of keys on and put them in the glovebox, the other set of keys went into the ignition.

The key case that is with this SuperBird is nearly identical to the leather key case that we gave everyone. There is a screwed-together rivet at one end and there are holes on the other end. The ones that we gave had the screw rivet at both ends and what we would do is put the ignition key on one end of the key case and the trunk key on the other end. We would leave the ignition key exposed and just enclose the trunk key in the case.

This key case doesn't appear to have any lettering or any markings, but on the backside, most of the dealership would have had printed-I don't know what the process was, I doubt that it was silkscreening-but in either yellow or gold lettering it would have the name, address and phone number of the selling dealer. It appears to be worn off this key case but this, for all intent and purposes, is a vintage 1970 dealer-installed key case.

David Patik: This car has the original correct exhaust clamp for a RoadRunner or SuperBird. Here we see the single stud exhaust clamp with the correct strap, and in front of it, we see a 21" resonator that was found on Hemi cars. On the resonator, towards the front of the car, there is the pentastar and the vendor part number #96312 and the date code 769.

Moving to the front of the resonator, we see that there is no clamp here. The resonator is a pipe which comes out and goes over the wheel and then ends in front of the axle with an original clamp that has two studs, and the nuts have washers. If we were to look way up here from the bottom [towards the car floor], we can see how this clamp ends here where it mates to a rubber strap held in place by a rivet. Then the rubber strap, on the top side, is riveted to another clamp which is bolted on to a bracket that is, in turn, welded onto the car's floor. Looking up in here, we can also see how the fuel lines are woven very carefully so that there is no interference with the exhaust. And we can also see here a lot of factory undercoating. And there is undercoating on the resonator's bracket and even on the rubber strap, so we have a lot of clues from this one area about the order of assembly. We know now that the resonator hanger was in place before the car was undercoated and as we look underneath of this car, we're going to review that a lot, to see the order of assembly.

At the front of the gas tank, seen from the underside of the car, we can see a small line here with a rubber hose that is very encrusted not only with dirt, but also with undercoating. It has a crimp-on style clamp, not the screw-on style, and looking up here we can see the outlet-this is the supply to the fuel pump and that will be 3/8" line on a Hemi car. It's also got the same style of crimp-on clamp.

Here we see the grounding strap for the gas tank sending unit and that is crimped onto the pipe over here and on the back it is going to be attached to the tank. We can also see the end of the adjuster for the strap that holds onto the gas tank. All of these parts in this area show undercoating, which of course, means all of these parts were installed when the car was undercoated.

Looking above the differential, in the center of the rear of the floor, for some reason, there is a rectangular area that seems to have no undercoating. It has a pretty heavy coat of surface rust. We don't know why that is but Greg has a theory.

Greg Rager: If the gentleman doing the undercoating started at the front of the car and was working back, he would be spraying towards the rear and this would be an area that the undercoating wouldn't go from the spray gun if he was shooting towards the rear of the car.

David Patik: And that's a good point for the whole car. What Greg is saying, in other words, if you could see this whole car like the human eye can see it, you will see that exactly that was done. A person or persons were under the car with a wand and they did not cover every single area of underneath the car. They did it quickly because they had to do it quickly. Now we're looking at the right center of the gas tank and we're looking at the side of the right resonator-we see pretty heavy undercoating here which you would expect to find on the gas tank, but you would not expect to find on the resonator, meaning that the resonator and pipe were in place when the car was undercoated. Now we know that the rearend, driveshaft, transmission and engine were pre-assembled and mated on the assembly line separate from the body line. And those parts were mated to each other, meaning that all of that happened after all of the undercoating was done.

Now we're looking at the right rear exhaust tip clamp which is unique because it only has one stud. On the other side of the clamp there is a hook. On this clamp, we have a nut with no washer unlike the clamps in front of the mufflers. We also see the exhaust tip pokes into the back of the resonator creating a slight obstruction, but that's the way it was done.

Looking at the right rear shock of the car, there is flat black paint on the bottom half of the shock. As we look further down on the shock, we find undercoating which means when this car was undercoated the shock was retracted into the top of the shock and sure enough, there we find heavy undercoating at the top. As we move back down the shock absorber, there is a very thick nut at the bottom-no keeper nut. Moving to the U-clamps, they are 7 1/2" from the top to the tip of the threads. These are different U-clamps for different cars. We notice that all sorts of factory inspection markings and factory parts identifications are on all of these parts. Inspecting the leaf spring assembly on the right side, there are seven leaves which are not all full leaves. The bottom leaf is obviously just a half leaf. Looking very carefully between the leaves, we can see the zinc interliners. These zinc interliners don't appear to have any paint on them, although they could and it could have been corroded over the years.

But we believe, looking at this car, that the leaves were painted separate and individually before assembly. They seem to have very tiny evidence of black paint, whereas the clamps that retain the leaf assembly seems to have no paint at all, so they appear to have been bare metal. We can also see that the top rubber insulator and the insulator between the two bottom leaves in the rear of the spring have no paint, so apparently that was not a painted assembly.

Now we're looking at the Dana 60 axle-this car is a 4-speed so we have a Dana 60. These cars came with drum brakes on the rear and here we can notice the right side brake line, behind the shock absorber, was never put in its little clamp where it's supposed to be. Perhaps it was not put in there when it was built so many years ago. Here we can see how the brake line curves up over the differential and then it extends to a little junction. On the driver's side of the differential, under the vent cap, we have a little green plug. This plug seems to be an identification maybe of an inspector. It says "Clover 260" in embossed numbers and the plug is made out of green plastic and it is painted flat black like the entire rearend assembly.

Greg Rager: On the passenger's side, back side of the axle tube, there are numbers that were put in by Dana when they built the housing for Chrysler. There was some thought years ago that the VIN of the car or some date coding may match the actual car but, in fact, that has been disproven and what we've got is just some numbers that only Dana knew. The only thing we've been able to decode on it is, it will have a Dana date code and which line at the Dana assembly plant the axle was put together at. Whether or not the number and the date code actually corresponds to when the tubes were pressed into the center section, it's inconclusive. We've never been able to find that out from Dana.

**Sue's note: For those of you who aren't familiar with dumdum, it was a blackish colored caulk formula used by Chrysler. It didn't really offer water proofing or rust proofing benefits. It was simply used as a filler to take up space and seal things. A very big THANKS to Greg and David for sharing this restoration information with us. They have pointed out many little details that are often overlooked during a restoration. These two men were able to thoroughly examine a 100% correct, unrestored Hemi SuperBird, from its rear bumper to its nosecone and the entire undercarriage. Note the photos I've included are for reference only. They were NOT taken of the Hemi SuperBird.


© 1997-2004 Winged Warriors/National B-Body Owners Association. All rights reserved.