For many of us graying readers, cars have always been a big part of our existence. there was something about the look, the sounds, and the smell of what are now commonly known as musclecars that bring back memories of late Friday nights, Sunoco 260, and boulevard bragging rights. However, truth be told, many of us didn't hang onto our cars as long we hang onto our memories.
That is not the case with Jerry and Linda Brown of Florissant, Missouri, who still have the car to match the memories. This Dodge Super Bee's original owner decided to sell it in late 1968 with just 8,000 miles on the odometer. After looking at it and seeing how it fit what he desired in a new car without a new car price tag, Jerry bought it without hesitation.
The Super Bee was Dodge's quick response to the success of the Plymouth Road Runner. Like the Plymouth, it received the warmed-over 383 Magnum (the Hemi was the only option in the beginning), good tires and suspension, and a budget price. One nice amenity was the use of the new Charger dash. This car was painted LL1 Turquoise Metallic and filled with a white interior. Like many Bees, it has a bench seat, as well as a column shifter for the 727 Torqueflite. A 3.55:1 Sure Grip is in the rear housing. Two unique things: the car received a vinyl top, and the buyer opted out of the Scat stripe around the rearend sheetmetal, just the Bee decal, thank you.
The Browns didn't buy the car to put in the garage and save for a big pay-off years later. Nope, it was their regular transportation for almost two decades. Jerry did find that not having air conditioning in the hot Missouri summers was not very enjoyable. Luckily, by the late-'70s, there were other options open to him. An uncle had a high-mileage '69 Charger that came with a 383 2bbl engine and the much needed A/C. Jerry and Linda bought it, and within two weeks, he had moved not only the A/C setup over to the Bee, but also the power steering and the AM eight-track outfit. With the new paint and a fresh top that had been put on a year earlier, the Super Bee had a new lease on life.
Times do change, and by 1987, the car had become more of a family heirloom, only coming out on special occasions. Then in 1997, the choice was made to do another makeover on the car. While many people would have taken the car back to bone stock, Jerry and Linda decided to leave the 1969-era equipment in place, while doing a full-tilt restoration on everything else.
Companies such as YearOne, Harden's, the Paddock, and others finally had the needed parts. Legendary supplied some new white seat skin, while Just Dashes handled that part of the interior. Performance Car Graphics redid the gauge cluster area, and an N.O.S. headliner made that part of the restoration easy. Since there are not many AM radio stations available, a hidden DVD player is fed into the radio via an eight-track converter.
Outside, the sheetmetal was prepped and then sprayed by Rod Arnold, and the singular Super Bee rear-quarter decals were once again applied. The 14-inch Magnum 500 Road Wheels are shod in Goodyear Speedway F70-14 rubber. Meanwhile, the driveline was gone through, and the 383 was treated to stock rebuild with no major changes; the only real difference is the use of a Pertronix ignition system inside the factory distributor. All told, the car is nicer than it was the day it left the assembly line.
Today, the Brown family enjoys taking the car to events and shows (we shot it at the Monster Mopar event in St. Louis), where it never fails to draw an audience. Built the way that the Browns like it, this is one project that will be in the family hive for a long time to come.
A/C-The Way It Was Supposed To Be
In 1978, Jerry wanted to add air conditioning to this Super Bee, and he was able to do so by using parts from a similar 383 engine. The layout, the pulleys, and everything he needed was right there, and he was able to get a power steering unit that made that part of the driving experience more pleasurable as well.
"It's not concours," he says. "The '69 version has different hose routings. However, it looks correct, and we get a lot of questions because A/C and Super Bees don't go together very often. We thought this was a great way to do a change-over and still look stock."
Classic Auto Air in Florida rebuilt the systems to work with modern R134 refrigeration materials. the only major change from stock was altering the valving and setting up a cycle switch for the compressor, which Jerry tucked up out of view under the dash.
Fast Facts: '68 Dodge Super Bee
Jerry and Linda Brown * Florissant, MO
Engine: The factory-installed 383 still powers the B-Body, and the addition of a Pertronix distributor conversion makes sure the Browns never have to mess with points again. An air-conditioning unit and power steering from a '69 Charger were added in the late-'70s.
Transmission: the durable 727 was rebuilt and still motivates the Bee.
Rearend: A Chrysler 831/44 Sure Grip with street-friendly 3.55 gears rotates the rubber.
Horsepower & Performance: From the factory with its rated 335hp 383, Dodge's Super Bee (according to published results) garnered a 15-second quarter-mile e.t. at 96 mph and 0-60 times of 7.1 seconds.
Suspension: Just like 98-percent of Mopar cars, this one utilizes factory parallel front torsion bars. It was completely rebuilt with parts from Just Suspension.
Brakes: Drums at all four corners, which given the vehicle's bulk, make short-response stopping a little dicey.
Wheels: Factory, 14-inch, steel, Road Wheel rims.
Tires: Goodyear F70-14 rubber with plenty of room under the large wheelwells. This car was meant to cruise the miracle mile, not hit the slaloms.
High ImpactBody: 1968: the first year of production for the Bee.
Paint: Rod Arnold straightened the metal and then applied the painted LL1 Turquoise Metallic hue.
Interior: YearOne, The Paddock, Just Dashes, and Legendary supplied most of the required pieces and parts to bring the Bee back to better-than-new status. the '69 B-body A/C and hidden CD player connected to the eight-track make for some helpful upgrades.