DECEMBER 31, 2012 (JAN 2013): ’70 DODGE VALIANT SUPER BEE–MEXICAN MOPAR MUSCLE WITH A POLICE HERITAGE

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This car was at a Mopar show back in 2010 and it stirred up a number of questions.

 

Clearly this car is a Plymouth Duster yet it had odd-looking Super Bee decals plastered all over the sheet metal.

 

Guys who think in the shallow end of the pool automatically hung a fake label on the quasi-Super Bee but deeper thinkers knew better.

 

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The Hecho en Mexico tag was a pretty good clue and a brief read of the information filled in the blanks on this unique piece of Mopar history because this is a 1970 Dodge Valiant Super Bee. This is the Mexican equivalent of the Plymouth Duster and they pumped out an average of 200 a year at the Chrysler Laso Alberto facility.

 

Clarence Oosterlee is the current owner of this rare Dodge Valiant Super Bee and he admits that he bought this mystery car on a whim, ” I found it on ebay listed as a ’70 Plymouth Duster Super Bee. It was exactly what I was looking for except for the Super Bee part. I found a lot of discrepancies under the bid but I figured if it’s a Duster I could always change the decals”.

 

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Clarence won the bid and then he had to sort through the bureaucratic nightmare that comes when a car crosses two international borders. The car was brought to Los Angeles in 2004 and it came with its own south of the border paper work. Clarence admitted, “ I only had one day in LA and I didn’t look at the stuff too closely because all this guy wanted was the money for the car so this stuff was all new to me. He handed me a bunch of Mexican Government documentation and that was it”.

 

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The fun began when the numbers didn’t match any records, “ I tried to run the VIN but it was one digit off a regular VIN. It turned out that the serial number was a combination of the VIN and engine serial numbers but it did create a problem”.

 

That discrepancy in the VIN was eventually solved to the satisfaction of various government agencies and then the car distilled down to the actual project phase. Clarence warned his wife, “It’s a little rough but not a big deal. It had a poorly repaired body panel and a paint job but I found out what the original color was from some panels. I was happy that it actually ran”.

 

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The car was an adventure right from the beginning as Clarence tore it down, “every time I worked on it I’d find these Mexican pesos. They’d literally fall out of the car. The other things were dirt and dead black widow spiders because this car had literally been driven through hell and back in Mexico”.

 

The Dodge Super Bee isn’t a 340 car. This is a 270 horsepower 4 barrel 318 bolted up to a 4 speed manual transmission so Clarence rebuilt the engine, front suspension and replaced the rear springs for that factory stance. It’s close to but not exactly like its cousin, the Plymouth Duster.

 

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The key to this car is the familiar, yet somehow different aura that it conveys at car shows. Clarence has actually been accused of “faking a Duster” by a guy with a dangerously limited amount of Mopar knowledge and a big mouth. Despite the inevitable questions, Clarence is fiercely proud of his “Mexican Duster“.

 

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He’s actually become an expert on this Super Bee and he doesn’t hesitate to educate curious car show people. Clarence loves to point out things like the factory tach on the hood and the police history of these cars, ” they were used by the Federales as high speed pursuit cars and all of them were automatics so they could drive with one hand and shoot with the other. The fun part about this car is the learning curve about its history. Things like the hole in the tunnel for the 4-speed looks like it was cut out with tin snips and there are no headrests plus the serial number is never found on the dash. The workmanship from the factory was pretty bad”.

 

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The other “fun part” is the time behind the wheel, “ I’ve had it on the road since 2008 and I average 300 miles a year. I’ve driven it on 1700 mile round trips and it doesn’t miss a beat plus it pulls down 22-23 miles per gallon on the highway. I get to at least 20 shows a year but it doesn’t have a heater so I can’t push the season”.

 

Clarence is going to cling to this Mexican Mopar because it’s so unique. He doesn’t know what it would be worth but he does know “I’d be better off selling it in Mexico. I get calls all the time from there because it’s one of the last ones left. What it appraises for and what I’d sell it for are two different things”.

 

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Despite the debates and bureaucratic hurdles, Clarence is clearly enjoying his Mexican Duster.

 

Jerry Sutherland

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