It was many years ago when Mike Pehanich of Mountaintop, Pennsylvania, owned a B-Body '68 Dodge-a Super Bee with a 426 Hemi and an A-833.
Unfortunately, it was desired by others who stole it. "They swiped the Hemi out of it and destroyed the body," Mike says of the misfortune that befell his Mopar. "All I had left was the four-speed and the parts that I could salvage."
That's when Mike decided he'd get another car and build it. "I had all these pieces left," he says. "I loved that car so much that I said, 'I'll get another one someday, and I'll put this thing back together just like it was my first one.'"
In its first life, this 440...
In its first life, this 440 was inside a C-Body cop car. After a little reworking by Mike, he estimates it now puts out around 550 hp inside his R/T.
He found this '68 R/T hardtop out West about eight years ago in less-than-complete condition. "When I bought it, it was a piece of metal," Mike says. "It came from California, and there was nothing. It wasn't even a rolling chassis. It was just a body-all I basically had was a structure. The guy next door to me said, 'What did you do, pull that out of the junkyard?' But when it came out, he couldn't believe it was the same car!"
Thanks to a garage full of parts, including hardware and soft trim salvaged from the remains of his Super Bee, Mike had what he needed to build the R/T into a streetable screamer.
What went in his "new" '68 from his old one? Plenty. "I used the rearend-an 83/4-inch with a 3.91 gear setup-the driveshaft, the K-frame, the seats . . . the whole interior, as a matter of fact." He also used the Super Bee's hood, which was shared by the R/T and Super Bee in 1968. "I had the teardrop hood that was hard to find then and harder to find now."
Under that hood went an RB. "I had a '68 440 engine, and I did it up-stroked it, and it's now got to be pushing about 550 hp at least," Mike says. "It's got an Edelbrock RPM manifold on it and Hedman Hedders." Behind that new(er) engine is the gearbox from his Bee. "It's the coarse-splined Hemi four-speed with all the heavy-duty stuff. The shifter also came out of my Super Bee."
The first year for the optional...
The first year for the optional bumblebee stripes on the Coronet R/T was 1968. Mike's earned its (repro) stripes after the body was smoothed out and painted Hi-Impact Citron Yella. Note the new-for-1968, Coke-bottle contour of the rear quarter just aft of the door.
Wrapped around that shifter-the original-equipment Hurst stick for console-equipped B-Bodies, complete with compound curvature and topped by a period-correct T-handle-was an all-black interior made up of front buckets, a rear bench, trim pieces, and a dash with a factory 150-mph speedometer and 8,000-rpm tach.
Outside, Mike did all the remedial bodywork himself. "I took the dingers out of the body, and I did the paint," he says with pride. That's not surprising because massaging mangled Mopars was something he'd previously done professionally. "I worked at Scranton Dodge for a while," Mike says. "I've been around cars all my life. I pretty much know what to do with them." He also has an eye for color, painting the R/T in High-Impact Y3 Citron Yella.
Mike says it was a lot of work, but well worth it when he finished it. What's it like to drive? "The car runs great," he says with a smile.
Hopefully, none of you will suffer the same misfortune that Mike did with the theft of his Hemi-powered Super Bee. But he does have this advice if you're thinking about turning a piece of metal into a prize for the eyes. "You'd better make sure you love what you're doing and the car you're building because if you don't, you're never going to finish it. You gotta have that drive." He adds, "If you had a car in high school and thought, Someday, I'm getting one of those again, no matter what it takes to put it together, you'll do it."
Inside, the Coronet R/T looks...
Inside, the Coronet R/T looks much the same as it did when new. The wood-rimmed steering wheel was a popular dress-up option on the R/T, as was the center console.
'68 Dodge Coronet R/T hardtop
Mountain Top, PA
Total '68 Coronet R/T production: 10,512
- Hardtop w/ 440 Magnum/four-speed: 1,983
- Hardtop w/ 440 Magnum/727: 7,751
- Hardtop w/ 426 Hemi/four-speed: 100
- Hardtop w/ 426 Hemi/727: 119
- Convertible w/ 440 Magnum/four-speed: 88
- Convertible w/ 440 Magnum/727: 431
- Convertible w/ 426 Hemi/four-speed: 1
- Convertible w/ 426 Hemi/727: 8
A 440-inch Police Interceptor engine that, after it completed its tour of duty, was treated to a rebuild by Mike. Good stuff includes an Edelbrock RPM intake and an Accel electronic ignition system.
Not just any A-833, but the coarse-splined one that was originally installed behind the Hemi (and was in Mike's '68 Super Bee).
The 3.91-geared, 83/4-inch rearend from his original '68 Super Bee.
Restored original B-Body front and rear (torsion bars/rear leafs) with traction bars and air-adjustable shocks in back.
Every car needs stopping power, and this one has it. Front discs/rear drums are the big-size ones that came on the R/T in 1968.
Five-spoke Cragar S/S's look good, especially when wrapped in wide Cooper radial rubber at all four corners.
The seats inside this R/T...
The seats inside this R/T are the original front buckets/rear bench from his previously owned Bee.
Original '68 Dodge Coronet hardtop B-Body had all the dings and imperfections removed by Mike, who learned how from his many years as a Mopar dealer bodyman.
The longest-lasting of the High Impact paint colors on Ma Mopar's option lists-Citron Yella. Mike sprayed it on himself, in basecoat/clearcoat form.
Original '68 R/T seats, plus other '68-vintage items that were either on the R/T when he got it, or he took off his Super Bee. That includes the period-correct Hurst T-handle knob on the OEM compound-curvy Hurst four-speed console shifter. Sound system (in addition to the 440's Hedman Hedders) is a Sony Xplod system in the radio opening.