A project’s inspiration can start as a simple thought and grow into something amazing. Brian and Howard Knight’s 1970 Superbird clone came from the idea of building a racecar based on the iconic muscle car. The Howard brother’s Superbird is a HEMI-powered gem that grabs plenty of attention at the track.
Brian and Howard have been participating in various types of motorsports together their entire adult lives. Howard was into the pulling truck scene when Brian was growing up, and that’s where they both got started in the high-performance world.
“My brother and I built our first engine for his pulling truck when I was just 14 years old. When I got older, I started drag racing and Howard was working for the sheriff’s department part-time. He didn’t want to see me street racing, so he got me into going to the track to race. He helped me with my car and I still helped him with the pulling truck…we just stuck together. We’ve been doing this our entire lives, building different trucks and drag cars,” Brian explains.
Brian has always been a Mopar kind of guy since he started racing. A 1968 Road Runner was the first car that Brian raced at the track. Eventually, he made the switch to a full tube chassis racecar so he could go even faster, and he even had a Mopar-powered dragster for a time.
Since Brian and Howard are getting older, they decided to do one last big build together. The Superbird clone is what came out of that choice, and it all started with an idea that Howard had years ago.
“My brother is the one who came up with the idea to start this project. He owned an original Super Bee that was fully restored years ago that he sold. Howard thought it would be cool to build a Super Bee racecar since he liked that car so much, and I was totally onboard. This project took about six years to complete because we both wanted it to be perfect,” Brian says.
The car is actually a 1970 Satellite shell that Howard purchased from a racer in Kentucky. The car body was pretty beat up and needed new quarter panels before it could be used. The chassis was purchased from a racer in Ohio, but it required some work to match the goals the brothers had for the car. JDM Race Cars was tasked with redoing the front and back half of the chassis to get the project started. When the chassis was finished, JDM worked on the carbon-fiber interior, fitted the fiberglass body panels, mounted the engine, and wired the car.
Under the Superbird’s hood, you’ll find a 636 cubic-inch HEMI engine build by One Way Technology. The engine uses an Indy Cylinder Heads Max block and RA6 cylinder heads as its foundation. A mechanical fuel injection system feeds the HEMI plenty of alcohol, while an MSD 7AL ignition box provides the spark. A BTE Racing Powerglide transmission and Abruzzi torque converter are in charge of applying all the naturally-aspirated Mopar power. Brian and Howard’s goal is to run in the 4-second zone without a power adder. The car has already tickled the low 5-second range, and they believe with some changes to the torque converter, along with a few tuning adjustments to the fuel injection system, a 4-second pass is possible.
“We’re going to do some outlaw index racing with the car depending on how fast it goes. We’ll go to a lot of the Mopar events, as well. It’s all about having fun with the family at the track. We might end up putting a blower on the car at some point, depending on how it runs…who knows,” Brian states.
It’s cool to see brothers like Brian and Howard spend decades together racing. This Superbird is the product of what they think a racecar should look like and it’s an amazing piece. If you see this car in person at the track make sure take the time to check it out.