PLEASE CONTACT ME IF YOU HAVE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION!
This page was born out of the following threads:
Dodge Charger . com / Aero Cars / 999 Superbirds
Dodge Charger . com / Aero Cars / Proposed 999 Registry
Why was the Plymouth Superbird built at all? One reason stands out among all others as dominant: To secure Richard Petty as a NASCAR driver for Plymouth. When Petty caught wind of the Daytona Charger being built for Dodge, he asked if Plymouth was going to construct a similar vehicle. The answer was no. Winning is really all that matters in racing. Petty knew this and knew his brick shaped 1969 Plymouths would not be competitive. So, he agreed to drive for, GASP, Ford for the 1969 race season. This was perceived as a significant loss by Plymouth. Significant enough so that, after several go/no go decisions, Plymouth decided to construct the Plymouth Road Runner Superbird to compete with the Dodge Daytona and Ford/Mercury cars. The Superbird satisfied Petty and he returned to drive for Plymouth for the 1970 NASCAR Season. At least that is the story that the public has been told. Other sources have speculated that the whole move to Ford was a power play by Maurice Petty to secure exclusive rights to the distribution of Chrysler race equipment for Petty Enterprises.
Chrysler documents dated 10-7-69 and 11-27-69 state that only six exterior paint colors were available for Superbirds. These were: EB5-Blue Fire Metallic, EW1-Alpine White, EK2-Vitamin "C" Orange, FY1-Lemon Twist, FJ5-Lime Light and EV2-Tor-Red. On the 10-7-69 document there is a cryptic reference to "other colors available inquiry #4923". No documentation has come forward to indicate that anyone ever utilized this 4923 ordering process.
When one looks at the factory Superbird dealer brochure, however, at the end of the list of available colors is "Corporation Blue". Someone, somewhere decided that at least a few of the cars built to bring Richard Petty back to Plymouth should be similar in color to his Plymouth race cars. Petty's cars had been a unique, flat, medium blue for a number of years and the color had become a recognizable symbol of the Petty racing enterprise.
This color is VERY close to the color known as "Corporate Blue" which Chrysler Corp. used on their signage. 12785 is the Ditzler code for the Blue "Corporate Identity" color. It is doubtful that Richard Petty chose his shade of blue to match the Chrysler Corporate Blue. When asked about the color of his cars, he related a story about how when it came time to paint one of their cars, they did not have enough dark blue to do the entire car. They looked on the shelf and found a can of white, that when combined with the blue, would be enough to paint the entire car. So they mixed them together and painted the car. Later, it was decided that the color was appealing, so they continued to paint their cars this color.
NOTE: As we know, a very small number of cars were accidentally painted FK5 - "Deep Burnt Orange (Metallic or Poly)". These do constitute an 8th factory color although it is believed to be an unintentional one.
The code "999" was used by Chrysler to denote a special paint color not normally available among the paint choices for a given year. So, if you were a fleet buyer and wanted a bunch of cars painted your company shade of whatever, you specified the color and Chrysler just inserted 999 where a code such as FJ5 or EV2 would have been on the fender tag and build sheet.
Since Corporate Blue was not a normal color applied to Plymouths in 1970, the cars that received Corporate Blue were coded 999. Understandably, the intention behind painting these cars and the closeness of the color to Petty's race cars eventually led to people calling these cars Petty Blue cars despite the fact that they were actually Corporate Blue. On the fender tag to the right, you can see the 999 code at the beginning of the second line from the bottom. This was where the body color was coded.
Also unique to Petty/Corporate Blue cars is the "C37D" code in the third line and the range of "J Numbers" found at the end of the 5th row.
The best explanation for "C37D" that I have heard is that it is a Sales Code for the Corporate Blue color. C37D appears on the fender tag in a location that is normally blank on Superbirds. It does not replace a typical code in the same way 999 would replace EV2. It is possible that, because 999 does not clarify which unusual color is to be applied, that a second code was necessary to show that Corporation Blue was the particular unusual color to be applied in this case. Please click the link below to see a copy of an internal Chrysler document discussing the process for ordering Corporate Blue on Superbirds.
The Vehicle Order Number or VON is an identifying number assigned to a hypothetical vehicle before it is built. The VON is found on most of the paperwork that is generated to describe the vehicle - Build/Broadcast sheet, Manufacturer's Statement of Origin and Monroney Label/Window Sticker. The VON also shows up in one location on the actual car - the fender tag. The VON can be seen in the photo of the fender tag above. It is at the end of the second row from the bottom. In this case, the number is "J99530".
Preparation for building a given year's cars began many months in advance. What models, styles and options were to be built and how many of each, had to be planned out. When a last minute run of special vehicles such as the Superbird needed to be built, they received unique VONs. Normally a VON was just a six digit number. Superbirds have a VON that, over time, has come to be called its "J Number" because it is the letter J followed by five digits. NOTE: If one wants to absolutely technically correct, Superbirds were assigned a "Special Order Number" or SON as opposed to a VON but I will stick with VON so as not to confuse the topic even further.
Chrysler documentation shows quite clearly that the "Special Order Number"/VON/J Numbers for Superbirds were to range from J97000 to J99499. On the same documentation is the quote *TOTAL UNITS NOT TO EXCEED PROGRAM AUTHORIZATION*. Obviously Plymouth had no intention of producing more than 2500 Superbirds. The lowest VON I have heard of is very close to the 97000 beginning number. The highest non-Corporate/Petty Blue car I have heard of has the VON J98890.
And yet, all the 999/Corporate/Petty Blue cars have J numbers higher than 99489. What is going on here? The best explanation I have heard for this is: because 999/Corporate/Petty Blue Superbirds were painted a non-typical (and originally not planned) color they were given a special run of VONs starting with the last number (or first number after) of the range of VONs assigned to Superbirds in the first place. The VON of the first Petty Blue Superbird is probably 99499 or 99500. And these new VONs probably replaced existing VONs in the run of VON/J Numbers originally assigned to built Superbirds. If we had perfect documentation of all the VON/J Numbers we would probably find the same number of gaps in the list as there were Petty Blue Superbirds built.
VON VS VIN
Is the VON the same thing as the VIN? No. The Vehicle Order Number (VON) is a manufacturer's number assigned to a hypothetical vehicle. The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is the serial number of the car used for legal reasons such as assignment of title, ownership and licensing. The VIN is assigned to cars as they are built and often stamped into various body parts. 171684 is the part of the VIN on the fender tag shown above. The "RM23U0A" before the 171684 is also part of the VIN. There is no direct one-to-one correlation between VONs and VINs. In essence, if each car had a "name", the VON would be its name prior to its birth all the way through its production and up to the point where a dealership held it as a new car. Its name would change to its VIN once the car had been married to a purchaser/consumer.
So how many 999/Corporate/Petty Blue Superbirds did Plymouth build?
As with any unique situation, a number of explanations have surfaced over the years as to how the Petty Blue cars were built and how many of them were built. It has been believed for decades that about 50 Superbirds were painted 999 Corporate/Petty Blue. This number is probably fairly accurate. Also decades ago another number for the total number of assembly line Superbirds built showed up. That number was 1978. If Chrysler built 43 Petty Blue Superbirds (Richard's Race Number) as a marketing tool and you add that number to the Chrysler Historical number of 1935 you get 1978. Again, all of this is speculation. I doubt we will ever know with absolute certainty the totals of each color car built.
THE CHART BELOW WAS COMPILED FROM A WIDE VARIETY OF SOURCES. IT IS THE MOST ACCURATE ACCOUNTING OF 999/CORPORATE/PETTY BLUE CARS THAT I HAVE. IF YOU KNOW OF ANY CARS OR ADDITIONAL DATA PLEASE CONTACT ME.
NOTE: One of the R Code (Hemi) cars (172601) is believed to be an original B5 blue car that was repainted Petty Blue by its owner.
I have left it in this list as it was once reported as being a 999 car.
Anyone finding old documentation will stumble on this same vehicle.
find below a very abbreviated version of the NASCAR serial number list sorted by VIN. I have highlighted
the known Corporate/Petty Blue cars in light blue to show their locations on the list. This shows a couple
of interesting things. One, the petty blue cars often fall at the end of a run of VINs. Also,
they often fall in small groups. It is as though they were made in batches. Owners of
these cars have confirmed that they went down the assembly line just like any other Superbird. They were
bare shells painted Corporate Blue - not painted cars repainted Corporate Blue later.
Please find below a very abbreviated version of the NASCAR serial number list sorted by VIN. I have highlighted the known Corporate/Petty Blue cars in light blue to show their locations on the list. This shows a couple of interesting things. One, the petty blue cars often fall at the end of a run of VINs. Also, they often fall in small groups. It is as though they were made in batches. Owners of these cars have confirmed that they went down the assembly line just like any other Superbird. They were bare shells painted Corporate Blue - not painted cars repainted Corporate Blue later.
NOTE: THE ORANGE HIGHLIGHTED VONS/J NUMBERS ARE HYPOTHETICAL.