Dodge Super Bee

Chrysler divisions always showed a certain rivalry, but when Plymouth developed the highly successful Road Runner model Dodge engineers wanted to teach them a lesson. They were given permission to design a similar budget muscle car to attract the younger generations.

As a result, Dodge Super Bee was presented at Detroit Auto Show in 1968. One of the reasons behind the competitive conflict was the fact that Dodge already used road runner name in their Coronet ad and many felt it was inappropriate for Plymouth to use the same.

Dodge Super Bee model was based on the redesigned Dodge Coronet. People were very interested in the new car priced at reasonable $3,027 which was only 5 percent more expensive than original Road Runner.

Since the two cars used the identical basic chassis, curb weight was also pretty similar. Power performance was based on 383 cu in V8 engine capable of generating 335 horsepower. The expensive and very reputable 426 Hemi engine was offered as a $1,000 option, but it didn't have desired effect on consumers.

The majority of Dodge Super Bee buyers were on a limited budget and getting a stronger engine meant 33% more money to be spent. Taking the facts into consideration, there is no wonder that only 125 Super Bee models were ordered with that option. Standard equipment included a heavy duty suspension, brakes, four speed manual transmission and red line wide oval tires.

Exterior design was created in a high profile fashion with bumble bee racing strips rounding the tail and a large Super Bee emblem dominating the rear fenders. Even the grille was elegantly finished in black color. Thin bright moldings decorated the wheels and the rear body panel.

Interior design was classical door to door carpeting, vinyl seats and door panels and common bench seats. Bob McCurry was the Dodge General Manger at the time which oversaw the entire project. Dodge styling office thought of the Super Bee name when they studied Dodge Scat Pack marketing campaign designed earlier for Charger, Coronet and Dart. An original Bee mascot became the inspiration for the entire model, to the very smallest details such as a unique font.

Dodge management were satisfied with initial sales in 1969. The battle for the growing youth market and show off high performance cars was heating up. Dodge market share in the performance market grew significantly from all the new investments.

The Super Bee model was inspired by race car look with a sophisticated gauge and speedometer dash cluster. Higher quality accessories proved to be a good choice since ordinary Americans were able to differentiate Super Bee from Plymouth Road Runner. Despite the two vehicles being so similar in nature, in the end only one could remain.

Content and performance favored Plymouth Road Runner as early groundbreaking model, which was obvious when you take a look a total production numbers. Trying to reach the identical audience, from 1968 to 1971, Chrysler produced 52,365 Super Bee units in comparison to 176,080 Road Runners models. Nevertheless, Dodge Super Bee is certainly an important part of Chrysler history.

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