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EPA-Owned 1970 Plymouth Superbird Heading To Auction, Prepare Your Checkbook

The EPA once owned a muscle car. That is a story in itself, right? Well, they probably had more, but this is your chance to own a performance vehicle that once belonged to the Environmental Protection Agency.
1970 Plymouth Superbird 13 photos
Photo: Barrett Jackson
1970 Plymouth Superbird "The EPA Bird"1970 Plymouth Superbird "The EPA Bird"1970 Plymouth Superbird "The EPA Bird"1970 Plymouth Superbird "The EPA Bird"1970 Plymouth Superbird "The EPA Bird"1970 Plymouth Superbird "The EPA Bird"1970 Plymouth Superbird "The EPA Bird"1970 Plymouth Superbird "The EPA Bird"1970 Plymouth Superbird "The EPA Bird"1970 Plymouth Superbird "The EPA Bird"1970 Plymouth Superbird "The EPA Bird"1970 Plymouth Superbird "The EPA Bird"
This car, a 1970 Plymouth Superbird, is perfect for bragging wherever you go, even if you are in a group of environmental activists. Think about it – you could tell them that you own a muscle car that was officially used by the EPA.

Not only that, but this vehicle was put to use by the EPA for a year and a half, so they did not buy it just to show how bad carburetted engines were for the environment.

At this point, you are reasonably questioning what could the Environmental Protection Agency do with a muscle car, especially one with a big, 440-ci V8 unit, mated to a manual transmission. Well, so did we, but Barrett-Jackson has cleared it up.

The said auction company has carefully checked the history of this vehicle, and it appears that the EPA used it to chase airplanes on runways as they were taking off. The car used to have a column-shifted automatic, but it was switched for a four-speed manual instead, to handle the specific requirements of the 40-second test runs.

An airplane needs to reach about 120 mph (194 km/h) for takeoff, so you need a fast car to chase it, thus the acquisition of a 1970 Plymouth Superbird in 1972.

The EPA used it for a year and a half to measure air quality during the takeoff procedure of an airplane. This particular vehicle used to chase commercial jets, so there’s no supplementary story relating to Area 51 here.

The car was fitted with specialized testing equipment by a company called Nichels Engineering. Once its service was complete, the EPA just placed it in a government surplus area. It was then sold off in 1979 to a high-school shop teacher for just $500. The equipment was stripped, and the teacher kept it for 24 years.

Its current owner bought the Plymouth in 2005, and proceeded to a full restoration, including the refit of the same testing equipment used in 1972.

This particular car, with a unique history, will go on the auction block this October, in Las Vegas. Since cars like these usually sell for sums that have six figures, you still have time to win the Powerball by then.
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About the author: Sebastian Toma
Sebastian Toma profile photo

Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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