The first generation Super Bee was made from 1968 to 1970 and introduce to the public at the Detroit auto show in 1968. Plymouth Road Runner was selling so well that Chrysler Corporation decided the model needed some competition within the company. The Dodge division saw this as a chance to break into the muscle car market. The “super Bee” became the lowest priced vehicle offered by Chrysler Dodge Division – it was styled along the same lines as the Road Runner.
Outwardly the two cars are very similar; the Super Bee is slightly heavier – about 29 kg (65lbs) with a wheel base slightly longer at 300 c m (117”) as compared to the Road Runners 290 cm (116”).On the outside the Dodge has large wheel openings, fancy grill, and in the rear the Bee stripe with ornate tail lights. One other feature distinguishes the Dodge “Bee” and the Plymouth “Road Runner” the “Super Bee’ has three die cast chrome plated logo medallions; one on the rear of the car and two in front.
The dashboard instrument cluster and sophisticated gauges are similar to the Chargers. The car has heavy duty suspension on the high performance tires while on the body the tail section sports the distinctive Bee logo and racing stripe. The 1968 model came in a coupe body style only and was basically equipped with an automatic or you could have chosen the Mopar A-833 four speed or a floor mounted four speed with a Hurst Competition-plus shift stick and Hurst linkage. The basic engine available was a bi block 335 hp (250kW) 383 magnum developing 335 hp (250 kW) or you could kick it up a few notches and install a 426 Hemi with a 425 hp (317 kW) rating. There were only 125 of the hemi engine sold. For the big buck a big block 440 cu in (7.3 L) was also available with 390 hp (291 kW).
In 1969 a hardtop was offered besides the coupe along with an optional functional twin-scope air induction system mounted on the hood. The base engine remained a 383 high performance or you could choose from two optional engines; a 440 with three two barrel carbs or “Six-pack” and the high end 426 Hemi. This year saw a tax applied to all the muscle cars as well as any other vehicles with large fuel consuming engines. The sales went down in 1969 and continued a downward spiral into 1970 models.
With the 1970 model Super Bee came some cosmetic changes such as a twin loop front bumper Dodge christened “bumble bee wings” as well an optional – “c-stripe” variation of the bumble bee stripe on the trunk lid. Interior changes included high back bucket seats, a column mounted ignition switch, and a pistol grip style shifter handle on the optional four speed.
The second generation “Bee” saw a slight increase in sales over the first generation for the budget priced muscle car although only 22 units were sold with the hemi option; this option was shelved until it became available again in the 2007 Super Bee. This was the only year to offer a small block 340 cu in (5.6 L) which had 275 hp (205 kW) with only 26 units built.