In the age of the restomod, this '71 Dodge Charger Super Bee isn't just a "clean" car, it's shockingly clean. "It's better than it was when it rolled off the assembly line," says the Bee's longtime owner, Jeff Shook.
Shocking not only by its appearance, but what's there-and what's not. The original recirculating-ball steering and torsion bar front suspension are both history, replaced by Reilly Motor Sports' (RMS) rack-and-pinion steering system and tubular A-arms with QA1 coilovers. "That made an amazing change in the handling of this car," he notes. Quite a change, but one for the better. "Removing the torsion-bar front suspension also gave us so much more room for the larger exhaust," Jeff says. "We put tti headers and three-inch exhausts on all the way back, and that change gave us so much more room and ease to work with."
Also changed: the rear suspension. Gone are the big OEM rear leaf spring bundles, replaced by Calvert Racing's composite split monoleaf springs and a set of CalTrac bars. "That was a suggestion of C.J. Tremper at RJ Cars, who painted the car," says Jeff of the rear-suspension upgrade. "He races on weekends, and he said how popular they were on the track. He said, 'You oughta try that,' and I said, 'I'm all for it.'" Though the ride with the CalTracs installed may be a little stiffer than stock, Jeff doesn't mind it a bit. "When you put the juice to it, it's amazing how that car hooks right up."
And there's plenty of juice, too. Jeff replaced the several-times-rebuilt 383 with a 440 bored and stroked to 496 cubic inches, built by Mike Mastin Engineering in Livonia, New York. That's backed by a Passon Performance overdrive four-speed manual transmission (in place of the OEM 727), and a DTS Dana rear end with a 4.10-geared Tru Track differential completes the drivetrain.
Inside, it looks like an optional Charger interior, until you notice the seats. "The people at Legendary are great," Jeff says of Legendary Auto Interiors, whose handiwork covers the Bee's restored front buckets and rear bench. "When we pitched to them about doing something with the interior, they threw some samples at us and said, 'Let us know what you like.'" What Jeff liked was the purple/black two-tone, with something on the front seat headrests that Jeff really liked. "They embossed the Super Bee logos just enough where it's not gaudy when you look in there, but it catches your eye," he says.
There's one big thing about Jeff's Bee that'll really shock you: his history with it. You see, it's been in his family since 1979. "I remember my older brother looking for a car, and I happened to see it on my way to my grandmother's house," Jeff recalls. "He bought it, and a year later I ended up with it."
Mike Mastin Engineering-built...
Mike Mastin Engineering-built RB boasts 496 cubic inches, thanks to an .030-inch overbore and stroker crank. Not seen is the Reilly Motor Sports' front suspension which made room for tti headers and 3-inch-diameter exhausts.
It didn't stay original for long. "Like kids did in the early '80s, we pulled the engine out and went through it, took the transmission out and rebuilt it, swapped gears, put headers on it, and stuff like that," he adds. "When I decided to restore this car, I thought about if I had bought this brand-new, or ordered it, what would I have done.
"It's what we did when we were kids with these cars," he adds. "The first generation with these cars wanted to see them stock and original, and they don't want to see any change. It seems like my generation wants to juice them up a little bit."
Jeff has a big reason for not keeping his B-Body period-correct: its commonality. 383/727-equipped cars made up over half of the '71 Bee's 5,044-unit production total, which also included just 99 440 Six Packs and 23 426 Hemis. "I've been following them for years, as far as the market value on them," he says. "They made so many of those that they don't bring a lot of money compared to Six Pack or Hemi ones, and I have no intentions of ever parting with the car. So, I felt that keeping it stock wasn't for me."
If you find a less-than-rare Mopar and you want to bring its handling, steering, stopping, and acceleration into the 21st Century, Jeff offers this advice. "If you're going to have a driver, a restomod is, to me, the way to go. To have the modern convenience of better stopping power and handling, the upgrades are phenomenal.
"It doesn't make sense to spend a fortune on a car, leave it stock, and intend to drive it a lot. If you're going to trailer it to shows, and not take it out on the road and run it, that's fine. But to thoroughly enjoy your investment, these modern upgrades are the way to go."
Gauge cluster is a restored...
Gauge cluster is a restored original, the OEM AM/FM radio controls a 10-disc CD changer in the trunk, and the Pistol Grip shifter stirs a Passon Performance four-speed.....
..... Other than all that-and...
..... Other than all that-and the Legendary two-tone seat covers-it looks the way a loaded Super Bee's front cabin did in 1971.
RJ Cars' restoration work kept the '71 Bee's great shape looking great.....
.....In back, you can see...
.....In back, you can see the CalTracs traction bars at the heart of the 21st Century-tech rear suspension. Wheels are Center Lines shod with big Cooper "Cobra" radials.
'71 Dodge Charger Super Bee
Owned by: Jeff Shook, Hawley, Pennsylvania
- Engine: Originally a 383 car, Jeff's Bee now sports a Mike Mastin Engineering-built 440 bored and stroked to 496 cubic inches, wearing Edelbrock heads and intake, a Holley four-barrel, Mopar Performance electronic ignition (and their black crinkle-finish valve covers and air cleaner), with tti headers breathing into a 3-inch exhaust system with Dynomax mufflers.
- Transmission: Passon Performance's overdrive four-speed manual stirred with an OEM-style pistol-grip shifter replaced the original 727.
- Rearend: Serious Mopars carry serious rear-end hardware, and this one doesn't get more serious than a DTS Dana filled with Strange axles and a 4.10-geared Detroit Tru-Trac differential. Seriously.
- Suspension: Heavy-duty, 21st Century-style: (Front) Reilly Motor Sports' tubular A-arms with QA1 coilovers, (Rear) Calvert Racing split monoleaf springs, CalTrac traction bars and Strange adjustable shocks
- Brakes: Wilwood discs with 4-piston calipers at all corners are much more HD than the OEM pieces ever were.
- Wheels and Tires: Center Line "Nomad" wheels (16 x 7 inches in front, 16 x 9 1/2 inches in rear) wearing Cooper "Cobra" radials (235/55R16 front, 295/50R16 in rear) fill the fenderwells.
- Body: Original '71 Charger unibody got a needed second restoration, which R.J. Cars pulled off brilliantly. They replaced the Bee's rusted steel while adding a set of US Car Tool frame connectors, repro '71 Super Bee stripes and hood graphics, and a FPAP repro "Go Wing" spoiler in back. Erie, Pennsylvania's Advanced Custom Chrome re-chromed both of the Bee's bumpers.
- Paint: R-M's FC7 Plum Crazy Metallic, sprayed on by C.J. Tremper at R.J. Cars, Arkport, New York.
- Interior: Legendary Auto Interiors does it again, with custom purple/black vinyl covers for the rear bench and front buckets (with empossed "Super Bee" logos on the headrests). There's also an A/M repro "Tuff" steering wheel, a restored Rallye gauge cluster by Brent Ball, and a stock AM/FM radio updated by Retro Radio Restoration, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, with a trunk-mounted 10-disc CD player and Cerwin Vega speakers. Upholstery installed by Ron Halbritter, Clyde, New York. All other interior installations done by R.J. Cars.