Courtesy of Auctions America

• 447-cid, 520-hp V8 engine

• 4-speed manual transmission

• Fresh restoration by car’s third owner

• Ramcharger lift-off hood with display stands

• Performance upgrades

This 1969 Super Bee was treated to a fresh restoration by its third owners, Jerry and Rickie Lane, along with significant engine upgrades. It has a 447-cid RB block, 10:1 Mopar Performance pistons, Mopar Performance solid-lifter cam and adjustable rockers and 452 heads. Completely rebuilt in 2002, the engine has been dyno-tested at 520 hp.

Finished in Jade Green, it has the Ramcharger lift-off hood with display stands. The undercarriage has been extensively powder coated, the brake lines are stainless steel, and it has a 1¼-inch sway bar and polyurethane bushings. The 4-speed transmission has a pistol-grip shifter, and the rear axle is a 4.11 limited-slip unit.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1969 Dodge Super Bee
Years Produced:1968–71
Number Produced:26,563 (1969)
Original List Price:$3,076
SCM Valuation:$20,000–$100,000 (depending on options)
Tune Up Cost:$150
Distributor Caps:$22.58
Chassis Number Location:VIN plate on the driver’s side instrument panel behind windshield
Engine Number Location:Pad on the right side of the block to the rear of the engine mount
Club Info:Walter P. Chrysler Club
Alternatives:1969 Plymouth Road Runner and GTX, 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge, 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396.
Investment Grade:C

This car, Lot 3151, sold for $22,000, including buyer’s premium, at the Auctions America Auburn Fall auction in Auburn, IN, on August 31, 2013.

I consider myself a muscle-car purist. For me, the best car is one that has been preserved in its factory-delivered, unmolested state. Sure, it may have developed a nice patina over the years, but as far as I’m concerned, you can’t duplicate original condition. Next best is a properly restored vehicle, with factory-correct finishes and OEM parts where possible.

Customized cars tend to make me cringe. Then again, proper restorations are very expensive, and not every car on the planet, not even a late-’60s muscle machine, is deserving of one.

Born a base-level Bee

The Super Bee was a mid-1968-model-year addition to the Dodge lineup. It was Dodge’s reaction to the runaway success of Plymouth’s Road Runner, and other than the Coronet sheet metal and a few interior pieces, it was almost identical in every way. Its name came from Chrysler’s internal designation for their mid-size cars: “B” bodies.

The Dodge was only available as a post coupe with pop-out rear windows in 1968, but the next year a hard-top model was added. Post coupes appealed primarily to racers, as the bodies of these cars were more rigid with those fixed posts behind each of the doors. But when the more attractive hard top became available in ’69, it proved to be a hugely popular option with buyers.

The VIN on our featured Super Bee tells the story. It’s one of those unloved ’69 coupes — just 8,202 were built out of a total of 26,563 Super Bees that year. Built on the St. Louis assembly line, it was equipped with the base 335-hp 383 4-bbl engine. A nice car at the time, but nothing extraordinary, and not the most desirable of the lot today.

And, clearly, this car isn’t stock anymore. But that’s not a bad thing.

Restore or modify?

A full-fledged factory-level restoration on one of these cars would make sense had it been one of the most desirable models, such as a Hemi car or A12 Six Pack 440. Both of those are muscle-car legends. On the street, the Six Pack cars were actually faster and better behaved than the Hemis, and today a top-notch restoration of one can sell for not much less than the legendary 426 “Elephant.”

Case-in-point, Barrett-Jackson sold an A12 ’Bee for $216,000 at its Scottsdale sale in pre-recession 2006 (ACC# 40393). While today’s more-realistic price might be less than half that, restoring one of those is still a worthwhile investment.

But a base-engine Super Bee coupe? A lot of these cars were built, and while they were fun to own and drive, the math just doesn’t add up. The rule of thumb is this: If the restored car isn’t worth all that much to begin with, the owner simply will never get his money out of the restoration. In this case, you might get $30k–$35k for a base Super Bee once it’s been properly restored, and you’ll spend that much or more for the restoration to get you there.

Built for go, not show

So while customized cars tend to turn me off, this one made sense, and here’s why: Powder-coating parts is much easier than duplicating factory finishes and markings; a modern two-part paint job is less time consuming than correct acrylic enamel paint and gives glossier and more durable results; and a bored and built 440 Six Pack, while hardly inexpensive, is a lot easier to come by than an engine built completely out of correct components and castings with the proper date codes.

All that rolls into a package that looks, feels, sounds and performs differently than a factory resto, but in this case, the finished product will run circles around an original. This is a car you can actually use without fear of anything other than your fuel bill and the local sheriff.

And here’s the real clincher: Typically, it costs a lot less to complete a car this way. So the end result is a lot more fun for the dollar, assuming the seller went into the project knowing he’d be passing those savings on when it came time to sell.

This modified Super Bee looks great top and bottom, even if the finishes are not factory-correct. And that 520-hp mill under the hood will devour a stock street Hemi or A12 at will. The fun factor clearly outweighs the collectibility factor here, and there’s a lot of value in that.

I may be a purist, but there’s an old saying in the aircraft business: “If it looks right, it is right.” This 1969 Super Bee certainly looks right, and with 520 hp and other upgrades, it goes right. And at $22,000, it’s priced right, too. Well bought.

(Introductory description courtesy of Auctions America.

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