Looking back, 1969 was a big year for Dodge performance. After all, the NASCAR series bred not one, but two different modelsthe Charger 500 and the winged Daytona. Standard Dodge Scat Pack models like the Charger were available in R/T and SE (or both) formats as well, while Coronets came in R/T and Super Bee trim. Next were the Dart GT, GTS, and new Swinger models. Finally, the mid-year introduction model seen here, the 440 Six Pack Super Bee, garnered a great deal of attention.
The Six Pack cars were unique for many reasons, not the least of which was the high performance 440 Magnum that finally became part of the budget-minded Super Bee and Plymouth Road Runner lineups. Up to that point with these models, you either got the base 335-horse 383 engine or the 426 Hemi; that was it. But the special engines were much more than warmed-over 440s from the R/T and GTX lineups. The 440 Six Pack featured many unique parts and pieces, developed exclusively for it through severe dyno testing at Chryslers Highland Park facility. The most visible change, of course, was a newly-designed Holley 3x2 carburetor outfit on an Edelbrock aluminum intake that sat atop the engine.
Like most Chrysler musclecars, the Six Pack Dodge and sister 440-6 BBL at Plymouth were a complete package, not just an engine. A Hemi four-speed or automatic (which used the standard 440 converter) were behind the mill, feeding horses back to a Dana 60 rear, the only differential available. Steel 15x6 police car rims were the only wheels big enough to support the new Goodyear G70 tires chosen for the cars, so no special wheels were available, either. Chrome lug nuts were added as trim and the hubcaps were left at the factory. Heavy duty shocks and springs rounded out the suspension.
Meanwhile, work on hoodscoop design had produced a revolutionary model that moved the opening off of the hood face (where turbulent boundary air was a problem) and into the cleaner air above by using a little air dam. Since this was to be built of fiberglass, Dodge created the whole hood from that material, deleted the hood hinges in favor of four NASCAR-style hold-down pins, and painted it flat black for street savvy. The package screamed speed, and in the minds of many, remains the ultimate visual expression of Detroit street iron.
Best of all, the price of the entire option over the base 383 Super Bee was only $468.80 ($462.80 on the Road Runner 440-6 BBL). Except for shortages due to the number of parts from outside vendors (Edelbrock intakes in particular), the cars should have been a runaway success. As it was, only 1,907 Dodge and 1,432 Plymouth package cars were built before the end of the 1969 model year, though the new 440 Six Pack would be available in several standard production cars for 1970. As a result, these well-balanced street/strip machines are among the highest-demand Mopar supercars from the 1966-1971 era.
Luckily, Calvin Smith knew some of this before he tackled the project, or the car might have been passed over. Delivered new from Bill Strange Dodge in Birmingham, Alabama, the Dodge had been thrashed severely in its life, and was sitting in an Alabama junkyard (with a dog chained up inside for good measure) when he bought it and took it back to Ohio. In its favor was the numbers-matching engine still between the fenderwells (missing the intake and carbs), the solid southern body with rust only in the trunk and floor, and its potential for true greatness.
Thus began an eight-year labor of love. Obviously, between the water damage and junkyard condition, it was not a question of what to fix; everything had to be fixed. Once straightened out with a new trunk pan and right-side floor pan, the body went to Joel Cox of Elyria, Ohio. Cox took out the dings and reapplied the stock Hemi Orange paint using a base coat/clear coat acrylic enamel. Having taken extensive photographs during the disassembly, Smith was even able to replicate the Bill Strange Dodge decal on the decklid. The hood is the original, and the Super Bee graphics came from Dales Cuda Shop. A final great find was an NOS windshield that a body shop in southern California had on its locator listings.
Next, the car went to Vic Mills, also in Elyria, where the process of assembling the needed pieces began. These included materials from the Paddock, Year One, Legendary Interiors, Roger Gibson, Eastwood, Stevens Performance, and other aftermarket suppliers; Calvin was also able to secure NOS wheel mouldings and Super Bee badging. At the same time, engine parts, the correct differential (which wasnt in the car when purchased), and four Six Pack steel rims, all properly date-coded, replaced those missing from the original. Mills did a majority of the work in getting the car in the condition it is today, which was completed in May of 2000. It was discovered from the build sheet that the car had been ordered with a higher 3.54:1 ring instead of the standard 4.10:1 ratio; Calvin has now located a second 69 440 Six Pack Dodge, also documented and delivered with this heretofore unrecognized option.
Since he began showing it this year, Calvins car has generated a great deal of interest. Moreover, the quality of the restoration was such that it took Best of Show at the Chrysler Classic in Columbus, First Place honors in B-Body Dodge at the Carlisle All-Chrysler Nationals, First Place 69-70 B-Body Dodge at the Mopar Nationals in Columbus, Paddocks Pick at the same event and First Place 69-70 B-Body Dodge at the Chrysler Classic at Kansas City, not to mention accolades at local shows. In fact, at the Viper Invitational in St. Louis, Smith was even asked to display the gorgeous car with Dodges latest concept vehicles under the factory tent.
So wed have to agree; whether new in 1969 or renewed in 2000, Calvins Six Pack Bee remains picture perfect.