1970 EPA Plymouth Superbird

If there's one thing we've learned from the Barrett-Jackson hype machine, it's that if you want to sell an old car for ungodly sums of money, it helps to have a good yarn to tell about it. Which is why we're somewhat shocked to see this Superbird fail to attract enough interest from bidders at the Atlantic City Classic Car Auction this past weekend.

The 1970 Plymouth Superbird you see above was formerly the property of the Environmental Protection Agency, which used it in some seminal air pollution tests, racing the car down a runway against a jet to measure emissions. The story is a fascinating piece of history, in that this particular Superbird was a product of NASCAR legend Ray Nichels, the chief race car builder for Chrysler during the company's prolific late 1960's period.

Yet that wasn't enough to push bidding past $175,000, so the car will go home to its current owner, Brian Chaffee of E-Muscle in Middlefield, CT. Chaffee spent three and a half years restoring the unique muscle car after acquiring it in 2006, missing the tail end of the historic run-up in muscle car prices in the process.

While the collector market has corrected itself during the past few years of economic uncertainty, the Hagerty Price Guide still lists #1 condition '70 Superbirds packing 440 power as $182,000 cars. So the top bid in Atlantic City was a few thousand light even for a car without such provenance.