The Dodge Super Bee was a cool cousin of the Plymouth Road Runner when it debuted a few months after the ‘Runner blazed a fast trail in 1968.
‘Both Mopars were an affordable muscle car in the late Sixties and offered an inexpensive entry into the street wars.’
The Road Runner and Super Bee came with a base level 383 engine that gave the cars plenty of presence at a traffic light.
Owners could upgrade to a 426 Hemi or 440 monster, but most of them came with the famous 383.
These days most people think a 383 is a bored out 350 stroker from GM, but there was a time when 383 only meant Mopar to most car guys.
Ron Maclean is old enough to remember the 383 engine as a Mopar mill and his 1969 Dodge Super Bee has one under the hood. The original engine in the Bee was also a 383, but it has gone on to the big garage in the sky.
However, Ron had a date-correct 383 engine built in August, 1968 to use in the Bee. He decided to tinker with the engine to get a good balance between performance and economy so he made a few changes.
Ron used 1967 heads on the car and put a new 4-barrel carb on the Bee. Now Ron is able to squeeze 22-23 mpg out of the Super Bee and still keep pace with modern traffic on the highway. The new age carb also helps start the car very quickly-or as Ron phrased it; “Boom-she’s running”.
The 383 is bolted up to a factory 4-speed and the manual tranny gives the car lively performance whenever Ron feels the need for speed.
Ron is a Mopar guy and has owned the Super Bee for about 10 years. He had a very unfortunate encounter with a deer that did about $19,000 worth of damage to the car and required some major surgery to save it. The deer was not as lucky in the accident.
He managed to find a survivor right front fender from a dry southern California car that fit like a glove as a replacement on his Super Bee. The only issue was the trim holes had to be welded up because the fender was donated by a Coronet 500 and had extra bling on it from the factory.
We noticed the front bucket seats in the Super Bee looked newer and Ron explained they were actually out of a Dodge Omni, the little sub-compact that helped save Chrysler in the Eighties. The seats look like they belong in the Bee and they are very comfortable, according to Ron.
The Super Bee also has an electric fan system that helps Ron cope with low idle speeds much better than the original fan system. Ron has used the car in parades and most car guys who have driven their rides in a parade will totally agree with this upgrade to his cooling system.
Ron has driven the car enough to make an assessment after 10 years of ownership and he really enjoys his Super Bee.
We will give Ron the last word on the Bee: “It’s a nice cruising car”.
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