Car Corner
Dodge Super Bee... What's Right and What's WRONG?

March 1, 2012
By Scott Lewis

Motor Trend's November 2011 issue has a Dodge Charger Super Bee on the cover. I dove into the magazine with great anticipation. And I was completely disappointed.

Let's start with what is right about the up coming Super Bee. They removed a lot of "fluff" from the car. No NAV system, no 19 speaker Bose audio, no blah, blah, blah. And they lowered the price to $41,000. At least this is the estimate Motor Trend gave for the price. The starting price for a Charger SRT8 is $46,825. So it looks like you can save approximately 5 grand by getting a Super Bee. Pretty cool, huh?

Not so fast, Jack!

Here is what is wrong with this entire idea. They are charging way too much? And they started with the wrong trim level. You still have a car that cost over $40,000. The person that can afford a $41K car is a much less likely to be concerned with spending an extra $5K to get it fully loaded. You need to dig deep and build a truly stripper Muscle Car for under $30K.

Let's take a little trip down memory lane. The original Dodge Super Bee and its sister the Plymouth's Road Runner we supposed to be fast, affordable Muscle Cars. As the Muscle Car wars were heating up... cars were getting bigger and badder... and heavier... and more option laden. So Plymouth introduced the Road Runner. A stripped down car with virtually no options. You could get a Road Runner for very close to $3,000 in 1968. Hundreds, almost thousands less than other Muscle Cars.

What you got was a 383 Big Block with a taxi cab interior complete with rubber floor mats. You also got a heavy duty suspension from a police car. That's It!!! You usually got drum brakes... which were only mildly upgraded from the base drum brakes from the Satellite. This car was all engine... even though it was "only" a 383.

The lack of options kept the weight reasonable for a mid size car. And it was fast... at least fast enough. If you wanted to go faster you could optionally get the legendary 426 Hemi. But this was certainly not necessary... and only a small fraction of Road Runners and Super Bees from 1968 came with the Hemi.

Remember... Dodge also offered a Coronet R/T which had as its base engine... you guessed it... the 383 engine. But the R/T had more content... and a higher price.

Here is what Dodge should do. Create the Charger Super Bee off of a stripped down Charger R/T. The Charger R/T starts at $29,995. Strip this car down on options and weight and sell it as a Super Bee for $26,995. You will get a Charger with the smaller Hemi (5.7 liter instead of 6.4). It is important that the base price of a Charger Super Bee be significantly lower than a V-8 Mustang ($29,710) or a V-8 Camaro ($31,930).

Next... offer all the wild colors. Plum Crazy, Sublime, Go Mango, Panther Pink, Hemi Orange, Lemon Twist, Sassy Grass, etc. All for the base price of $26,995. Here is a list of the standard equipment on a $29,995 Charger R/T:

High Intensity Display Headlamps
18" painted, polished wheels
Sport, cloth-trimmed low-back bucket seats
5.7L HEMI® V8 with Fuel Saver Technology and Variable Valve Timing
370 hp with 395 lb-ft of torque
16 city / 25 hwy mpg
0-60 in under 6 seconds
1/4-mile in under about 14 seconds
All-wheel drive

Looking at this list we have to also look at what the SXT version come with (which is also in the R/T):

Fog lamps
Leather-wrapped steering wheel & shift knob
8-way power driver's seat
Power 4-way driver lumbar adjust
Heated Front Seats
Front and rear LED map pocket lamps
Rearview auto-dimming mirror with microphone
HomeLink® Universal Transceiver: garage, home lighting & home security remote
All-new eight-speed transmission with 31 hwy mpg+.
All-season performance tires, available

To build a Dodge Super Bee we will eliminate the following:

No - High Intensity Display Headlamps
No - 18" painted, polished wheels
No - All-wheel drive
No - Fog lamps
No - 8-way power driver's seat
No - Power 4-way driver lumbar adjust
No - Heated Front Seats
No - Front and rear LED map pocket lamps
No - Rearview auto-dimming mirror with microphone
No - HomeLink® Universal Transceiver: garage, home lighting & home security remote

What do we add... very little... initially. From the R/T Plus and R/T Road & Track we take:

Matte Black grille with black honeycomb insert
High-performance bolstered seats (in cloth, without heating and ventilating)
Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters with selectable "Sport Mode"
3.06 axle ratio, performance high-speed engine controller
Performance suspension

That is a stripper Muscle Car. Of course... even the base level Charger gets A/C and power windows and locks. So we get that. What more do you need?

Now for options. Yes options! The most important option for this stripped down Charger Super Bee is the previous SRT8 engine.... the 6.1 Hemi. The current SRT8's are 6.4 liters. If you have a Super Bee equipped with the 6.1 liter Hemi rated at 425 hp it slots nicely between an R/T with the 5.7 liter 370 hp engine and the SRT8 with its 6.4 liter 470 hp motor.

Next offer some of the SRT8 performance items. 20 inch wheels, Brembo brakes and the 6.4 Hemi. That's right... you can get the SRT8 engine... if you want it... but if you want an old school Muscle Car you can do that too. BTW... When I say old school I mean a stripper performance car... not old school as in a cappy handling car.

Of course you can offer other options on the car... but make it VERY possible to buy one of these on the cheap.


So... we start with the 5.7, 370 hp Super Bee at $26,995. Add the 6.1, 425 hp engine option for $29,995. Next up is the Brembo brakes and 20 inch wheels for an additional $2,500. Finally.. the 470 hp 6.4 Hemi engine adds another $3,000 for a truly stripped down Bad Ass Muscle Car for $35,495.

Now that's a tribute to the original Super Bee and Road Runner of the 60's. And they will sell like hot cakes.