'71 Super Bee The Super Bee...
'71 Super Bee
The Super Bee wrapped up its production run with the '71 model year, but it did so looking quite different than when it all began in 1968. For 1971, the Super Bee switched from the Coronet platform to the Charger.
For its low-budget banger, Dodge also dipped into Chrysler's B-Body stock, tapping the Coronet 440 pillar sedan for the foundation of what would become the Super Bee. As with the Road Runner, a 440-ized 383 engine dubbed the 383 Magnum served as the base engine offering, and like the Road Runner, the sizzling (and pricey) 426 Hemi was optional. A good amount of borrowing also took place in creating the final Super Bee form, including the Coronet R/T's domed hood and grille and the Charger's Rallye gauge package. Underpinnings featured the heavy-duty suspension and large drum brakes as standard.
Although Plymouth was first to slap fresh (for an automaker) cartoon imagery onto its vehicles, the mascot concept was not without precedent within Dodge circles. Dodge kicked off the '68 model year with a marketing campaign called the Scat Pack, featuring a rascally bumblebee with a crash helmet, goggles, slicks, engine, and a nefarious grin as its branding image. This led, obviously, to Dodge planners hanging the Super Bee name onto its latest creation and delivering a counterpunch to the youth-oriented imagery first established with the Plymouth Road Runner. And, in response to the cartoon graphic on the Road Runner, Dodge designers stuck the Scat Pack bumblebee onto the rear fenders, perfectly complementing the signature Scat Pack tail stripe.
With the kick-off of the Scat Pack marketing program in 1968, Dodge embraced the cartoon mascot thing with a bear hug. Given that Plymouth was proud to display the Road Runner cartoon character on its budget muscle entry, it seemed only natural that the Scat Pack bumblebee mascot would also grace the Dodge Super Bee offering.
Unfortunately for Dodge, the Super Bee never reached the sales and production figures of the Road Runner. Even though the two vehicles were near-mirror images of each other in terms of content and performance, and both were aimed at roughly the same audience, the Super Bee fell way, way short of the Road Runner in terms of sales excitement, which is one of the reasons the car fell out of production long before its sibling. Within the Super Bee's production run of 1968-1971, 52,365 units were produced. During that same timeframe, 176,080 Road Runners (not including the '70 Super Bird) were produced. Quite a difference. Little wonder, then, that in 1971 Dodge officially pulled the plug on the Super Bee for the '72 model year.
Plymouth Road Runner: First In, Last Out
Plymouth managed to get the budget musclecar drop on sibling rival Dodge by introducing the Road Runner earlier in the '68 model year than the Super Bee. Perhaps this is part of the reason the Road Runner consistently outsold the Super Bee, and why its respectable showroom performance lasted well into the '70s.
|Road Runner Production|
|Model Year||Body Style||Engine Availability|
|1968||Coupe, Hardtop||383, 426 Hemi|
|1969||Coupe, Hardtop, Convertible||383, 426 Hemi, 440+6|
|1970||Coupe, Hardtop, Convertible||383, 426 Hemi, 440+6|
|1971||Hardtop||340, 383, 426 Hemi, 440 Super Commando|
|1972||Hardtop||340, 400, 440, 440+6*|
|1973||Hardtop||318, 340, 400, 440|
|1974||Hardtop||318, 360, 400, 440|
*Deleted early in model year; only one engine made it to a production model in 1972