Join Newsday's car culture discussion.
In the Garage: 1968 Dodge Super Bee
THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1968 Dodge Super Bee coupe owned by Frank Damiani
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
While the Dodge and Plymouth divisions were both part of Chrysler Corp., they still became intense rivals in the muscle car wars of the ‘60s and ‘70s. “The 1968 Super Bee was introduced to compete against the popular Plymouth Road Runner with the same premise of high performance at an affordable price,” Damiani says. “The idea was to make the car fast and keep the price down by not having many extras to bulk up the price and weight of the cars.
They were bare-bones hot rods, with bench seats, hubcap wheels and pop-out rear quarter windows. Base price for a ‘Bee’ was around $3,014. The base engine was the 383 (cubic-inch V-8) with 335 horsepower and four-speed (manual) transmission. But if you wanted the ultimate go-fast engine, you had to plunk down an additional $605 for the 426 (cubic-inch) ‘Hemi’ engine (rated at 425 horsepower), big money at any time for an engine option. This is one reason for the low numbers built, with only 125 Hemi ‘Bees’ built this year, including 94 automatics and 31 four-speeds. At least 16 are known to be left in the Chrysler registry.”
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
Since November 2011
“I spoke with the original owner and he bought the car for one reason: that was to race . . . and race it did,” Damiani says. “It is an original 41,000-mile car and a lot of it was unmolested, like the interior. When purchased, the car wasn’t bad, but mechanically it needed a lot of work. The car was in a terrible state of tune and not very drivable or reliable. This was evident by the lack of use. The prior owner had it for eight years and only put 250 miles on the car. For whatever reasons, he just never got the car sorted out.” Damiani had a Brooklyn shop do some major repairs and performed the fine tuning and engine detail work himself.
TIPS FOR OWNERS
“If you want to own a Hemi car, now is the time,” he advises. “It is a buyer’s market. The other thing I would recommend is to buy the best condition car you can afford.”
“In today’s market, I would put this ‘Bee’ at a range of $60,000 to $70,000,” he says.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“I’ve gotta say it is one of the best running and driving cars I own, and I love to drive it,” says Damiani. “There is just no substitute for the smells and sounds and the driving experience of an American muscle car, especially a Hemi. They have a sound and presence all their own.”
If you have an antique, classic or collectible car to be considered for this page, please send your information and a jpg photo (at least 200 dpi) to David Fluhrer, Optimum Autos; e-mail: email@example.com.