At the end of the '60s, most of the automotive industry thought the engineers, accountants, and designers at Chrysler had lost their minds. General Motors fought to retain a 400ci cap on their intermediate-size coupes, as well as eliminating multicarbureted induction systems on all their musclecars. Ford was eliminating their famous dual-carb side oiler 427 from their production line. Chrysler, on the other hand, went the opposite direction. The 426 Hemi still touted the dual Carter AFBs pushing out an advertised 425 hp. Street racers and track competitors knew the advantage that a progressive throttle linkage, combined with a significantly larger intake charge, offered. Most factory musclecars offered less than 800 cfm, while the Hemi was breathing in well over 1,300 cfm. Unfortunately, for most laymen, the Hemi option was well over their budget; the potent powerplant would increase the purchase price of a new Mopar by almost a third. Chrysler saw a window of opportunity in 1967 to take a lead on their competitors. Engineers in Michigan would thrash on the already stout high performance 440 available in C-Bodies and most B-Bodies. The HP440 would be fitted with an aluminum Edelbrock intake made to accept a trio of two-barrel Holleys. Totaling in at an astounding 1,500 cfm, the Six Barrel carbureted 440 would run on the center carburetor until the accelerator was mashed. The vacuum-advance secondary carburetors would be actuated by the progressive linkage, sucking in fresh cool air at a greater rate than even the Hemi. Chrysler's usage of the Hemi's valvesprings and retainers, as well as valves with flash-chromed stems, a radical cam, and a dual-point distributor, all added up to 390 hp.
Chrysler aimed their sights directly at the youth market with the Super Bee and Road Runner. Already in production by this time, the Runner and Bee offered the Hemi and the potent 383, but for 1969, the low-buck B-Bodies would receive several changes. First, the budget-minded duo was now made available as a hardtop; the 1968 model year only offered the post-roof. Second, exterior trim and paint options were increased. New grilles and taillamps, as well as badging, allowed for a greater variety of exterior flare. Interiors for both models also fared better in 1969, with new seat patterns, door panels, and accommodations. The convertible option was still absent from the Super Bee line, but not from the Road Runner.
But it was the midyear option of the 440 Six Pack and 440 Six Barrel for the Super Bee and Road Runner that made the low-buck performance machines legendary. Changes for the 440-6 option included a mandatory selection of the Super Track Pack, which signified a Dana 60 rear with a Sure Grip that carried 4.10 gears for both the automatic and the 833 manual transmission. Black 15-inch steel rims were the only wheel option with chrome lug nuts and G70x15 black or Redline tires. No wheel covers were available nor were disc brakes, air conditioning, the new-for-'69 fresh-air hood, Chrysler's automatic speed control, or a trailer package.
Due to the urgency of the option's release, a fiberglass hood was molded in lieu of a steel hood to save costs. The weight-saving advantage was actually just a by-product. A quote from Car Life after a testdrive of the car said, "The huge scoop gapes wide open seemingly ready to ingest all that gets near it, including water, dirt, or birds. Special drain tubes in the air cleaner take care of the water-the birds are on their own." In addition, NASCAR-style hood pins were utilized to save time and the cost of having to reinforce the fiberglass hood for hinges. The result was a musclecar that shouted its purpose rather than trying to keep it under wraps.
The Six Barrel cars were only available in select colors: Hemi Orange, Bright Red, Bright Green, or Bright Yellow. though a handful snuck through with the paler shade of Butterscotch Yellow, like this example.
Only 153 Six Pack Super Bees with 727s were ever produced, which was the lowest production Six Pack-equipped car in midyear 1969. According to Mopar historians, only a handful of these hardtops are known to exist in Butterscotch. The car was built on Saturday, April 26,1969, at the Lynch Road, Michigan, facility.
This isn't some show pony....
This isn't some show pony. With lightweight pistons, Hemi springs and retainers, tti headers, and an aggressive camshaft, this Bee wields a pretty sharp sting.
Graham Howard's '69 1/2 Super Bee is something of an anomaly. Rare by production numbers, this B-Body's rarity increases because of its location in Fareham, Hampshire, England. The Bee came with nearly every option available for the stripper street racer from the plant. Nonfunctioning quarter-panel scoops adorn its sides, while inside the cabin a large black vinyl bench positions the driver behind the column-shifted automatic.
The Fareham sales manager first heard about the Bee in 1999 from a friend who specialized in importing Mopar musclecars in the '70s. It was brought over in 1982 on the British merchant ship, the Atlantic Conveyor, which would later be requisitioned by the British Ministry of Defense to participate in the Falkland War. The Super Bee would reside locally until Graham's purchase. The Super Bee would need a complete cosmetic restoration and a minor engine refreshing since factory performance vehicles seem to age at a greater rate than their lesser-equipped brethren.
Graham says, "I've owned several Mopars over the past 10 years or so, including a Plum Crazy Purple '70 Super Bee and a '70 Plum Crazy Road Runner, but I've always wanted a '69 1/2 Six Pack car. I purchased the car minus the original engine and hood. I did receive a number of items, including an original Six Pack hood that was in the process of being shipped to this country from Canada. this was a genuine A12-coded Six Pack car in the rare Butterscotch color, and it was also the rarer hardtop model with an automatic, so I decided to start a complete ground-up restoration. I started collecting parts in early 2000. in 2001, I decided to fly over to the Mopar Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, with my lengthy shopping list of parts. After buying up everything I needed (and more), I attempted to fly back home, only to be told there was no way that they would allow all those parts on the plane." This was the first year after 9/11, when airport security was at its highest. Graham eventually got all his bounty back to the U.K., but not without a lot of trouble. He says, "that trip did save me a lot of money as well as time and effort in tracking down the hard-to-find parts that were needed."
The absent 440 was difficult to hunt down. The RB block was currently used in a drag race car at Santa Pod (the premier dragstrip in the U.K.) and was available for purchase only at the end of the racing season. During the course of 2002, it was agreed that he could purchase the block. It was pulled, taken to a machine shop, freshened, and refitted with lightweight JE 10.5:1 pistons, while the 906 heads were ported and polished. A more aggressive Crane 509-inch lift camshaft was slid into place, while the performance factory valvetrain was retained. A polished pair of ceramic tti headers replaced the stock manifolds, plumbing the exhaust out of a tti system with stock-appearing chrome tips. The Dana was disassembled with the Sure Grip mated to a set of 3.70s, allowing for a more street-friendly use.
Sharing many performance parts...
Sharing many performance parts with the infamous 426 Hemi, the 440 Six Pack was deemed the "poor man's Hemi." The progressive throttle linkage allowed for moderate driving on a single carburetor before the pedal was mashed to the floor, opening up all three carburetors to suck in 1,350 cfm!
"After receiving paint, the running gear was stripped, cleaned, painted, and replaced, and the rearend was rebuilt by Hauser Racing," Graham says. The body, on the other hand, was stripped down to bare metal and restored from the ground up. Original Chrysler Butterscotch Yellow was applied layer after layer, and finished with several clear coats. Graham continues, "The Butterscotch paint was matched to a pristine example taken from underneath the brake master cylinder plate. That was only after the car was completely stripped down to a bare shell-doors, hood, trunk, and front fenders were all removed. New panels were fitted where necessary; any rust was cut out and replaced with metal; all the paint was removed; the body work prepared for painting; and then the bumblebee stripe was applied to the tail."
The interior was equally refurbished with new carpet, recovered seats, and a new headliner from Legendary Interiors. New seatbelts from Ssnake-oyl were installed, and the dash was redyed. Graham did confess that "one of the only things we changed from stock was to a front disc-brake conversion." When the four-year restoration was completed, Graham had one of the cleanest and quickest restoration cars in England.
The extra ponies pulsing through the Super Bee might overpower the stock tires, but we at Mopar Muscle wonder what could be so wrong with hazing those radials up and down the cobblestone streets?
'69 1/2 Dodge Super Bee - Graham Howard - Fareham, Hampshire, England
Engine: the original RB440 block got the royal treatment before finding itself back between the fenders after serving as a powerplant for a seasoned race car. While the block was being freshened, the factory 904s were ported, polished, and refitted with the factory Hemi springs and retainers, as well as Mopar Performance valves. A more aggressive Crane 509-lift camshaft replaced the factory bump stick. light JE aluminum 10.5:1 compression pistons were used after the cylinders were bored out slightly. The original Edelbrock aluminum intake tops the plant with three refurbished Holleys. Graham made sure to have the engine appear as stock as possible, but produce more horsepower than the engine did in 1969. For the final touches, Graham had a set of tti ceramic-coated headers mated to the heads, tunneling the spent gases out of a tti system, complete with factory-appearing chrome tips.
Transmission: Besides a minor rebuild, the factory 727 TorqueFlite remains the same with the column-shifter.
Rearend: Part of the 440 Six Pack package was a mandatory Super Track Pack with the Dana 60 Sure Grip with 4.10 gears regardless of the transmission. Graham had his Dana's gears swapped to 3.70 for more street driving.
Horsepower & Performance: From the factory, these cars made an advertised 390 hp. With all the modifications to Graham's Super Bee, we estimate close to 450s. The late, great Ronnie Sox got a '69 1/2 6BBL Road Runner in similar trim and four-speed into the high 11s. we wonder how this Bee would fare.
Suspension: The Super Track Pack was the factory suspension package that came mandatory with the midyear performance package. Stronger Hemi-style torsion bars and gas shocks made for a pretty stout combination. Mopar Performance Super Stock leaf springs reside in back with new shocks in front. Graham also installed a rigid antisway bar for assistance in cornering.
Brakes: You had only one option in 1969-factory manual drum brakes at all four corners. No power and no discs. They were cheap and plentiful on the Chrysler parts shelves. Graham wanted better stopping power, so the front now sport discs, while the rear still retains the factory 11-inch drums.
Wheels: Just like the designers intended, the 6 1/2-inch-wide by 15-inch-tall stamped-steel wheels look intimidating in all black. Chrome lug nuts were a "plus" to the wheel combination from the factory.
Rubber: Though not known for their ample traction, they do fit the part. Bias Ply Redline tires were all that was available from the factory (that or all black). with all the power the 440s put out, we figure Graham's going to need a couple sets of these 225x70 donuts.
Body: When Graham picked up the Super Bee in 1999, he said it needed a full restoration. The body and paint were in pretty poor shape, so a complete body stripping was needed. Everything was taken down to the bare metal, including the optional Coronet R/T faux sidescoops. Thankfully, the contoured glass was preserved, as well as much of the trim.
Paint: Since the Super Bee's Butterscotch Yellow was so rare and significant, there was no other hue Graham considered. The tail is wrapped in the signature bumblebee stripe that Chrysler revamped four years ago for the limited production Rumble Bee trucks.
Interior: Though retreated, the interior is all pretty much how the factory buildsheet demands. The bench seat was recovered, as well as the rear bench. the carpet and headliner were also replaced. The dash was also put through the process, with a new pad, repainted gauges, and new chrome coating. The column, with its 37-year-old column shifter, was gone through just to be on the safe side.