1971 Super Bee Dodge Charger

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   Jeff Brink - GB5 426 HEMI 4-SPD

1971 SUPER BEE -- 426 HEMI 4-Speed -- 1 of 9
MR NORM's GRAND SPAULDING DODGE

By Jeff Brink

Mr Norms

Only nine lucky people can say they bought a BRAND NEW 1971 Dodge Charger Super Bee with a Hemi and a four speed transmission. I happen to be one of those nine lucky people. On March 26, 1971, I purchased a brand new Hemi Super Bee with a four speed from Mr. Norm's Grand Spaulding Dodge of Chicago, Illinois. At the time, I lived in Lombard, Illinois and had tried to buy a Hemi car from the local Dodge dealer, Don Miller Dodge of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, BUT they were not interested in ordering the car I wanted. I was told "We don't stock any Hemi's or Six-Pac's, we don't want to order any, we don't want anything to do with them, they are nothing but trouble!"

So I decided to take a trip to Chicago and visit Mr. Norm's "200 Hi-performance Dodges IN STOCK." It was a different story at Mr. Norm's when I told the salesman I was looking for a Hemi. He asked, "Do you want a Charger or a Challenger and in what color?" I said Charger and that the color did not really matter as long as it was equipped with a four speed. The salesman grabbed a couple 3" x 5" file cards that listed the options and prices for the cars that he would be attempting to sell and off we went to one of the several lots where Mr. Norm stored new cars. I looked at three Hemi cars that day and choose a Bright Blue Super Bee. We went back to the showroom and I gave them a $10.00 deposit to hold the car and offered my Chevrolet El Camino pick-up as a trade-in, signed some papers and told the salesman I would get a loan for the balance and be back by the end of the week. That was Tuesday, March 22, 1971. The following day, I went to the Bell West Credit Union, filled out the loan papers and got a check for $2400 the following day. I couldn't wait to pick up the car!

The big day was Friday, March 26, 1971. At the time I was living at home with my parents and my Dad thought he should go with me even though I was over 21 years old (he didn't want the dealer to take advantage of me). I wasn't too happy about this as my Dad was not a "car guy." To him cars were just transportation and when you bought one you argued price with the dealer and if you couldn't buy the car for $100 over dealer cost, you walked out and went to a dealer who would sell you the car at your price. I knew he was going to have a stroke when he found out how much I was paying for the Super Bee. We got to the dealership and I gave them the keys, the title to the El Camino, the check and some cash. I signed some papers and the salesman said the car was in the back shop right around the corner and that he would have them bring the car up front. Well, we waited and waited but the Super Bee did not arrive. After waiting about twenty minutes, I got the salesman and asked what was the problem? The salesman called the shop and when he told me what caused the delay I was FURIOUS. The car had run out of gas in the short trip from the back shop to the front of the dealership! I said to the salesman, "I paid $5000 for that car and you were sending me out of here with no gas in it!" Back in the '70's, you drove through some bad neighborhoods to get to Mr. Norm's and if I had run out of gas with a brand new car, things would not have been pretty. The salesman assured me the car now had a FULL tank of gas and was ready to go. To my surprise my Dad hadn't said much. We got in the car and I cranked the big Hemi over and it fired up, rumbled, shook and sounded just like a Hemi should. The sound of the car alarmed my Dad. He said, "There's something wrong with this car. A new car should never sound like this." Then he said " We are not driving this car out of here until a mechanic looks at it." Nothing I could say could convince him that the car had been built to sound the way it did. I had to go get a mechanic to come out and listen to the car and tell Dad it was OK!

The car had been ordered by Al Smith, the High Performance Sales Manager at Mr. Norm's on July 7, 1970. When he ordered the car it was to be built with A54 body matching painted bumpers, W23 road wheels and A45 front and rear spoilers, among the other options ordered . The car was built on Friday Sept. 11, 1970, at the St. Louis assembly plant and delivered to Mr. Norm's on the 26th of September. The Super Bee then sat on the lot for six long months until I bought the car on March 26, 1971. The next day at home, I started checking my new car. I was already aware that the car had been built with chrome bumpers and painted wheels and dog dish hub caps. I had not been charged for the W23 road wheels or the A54 paint options that were not present on the car at the time I bought it. Nor were these options listed on the sales papers. But the spoilers were listed on the sales papers and they were not on the car, but I had paid for them! I called Mr. Norm's asking for an adjustment of the price or the spoilers and they refused to give me the spoilers or any monetary refund, so I called the Chrysler Zone Office and did get a refund for the spoilers.

The Super Bee was my Saturday Night Special. It attracted lots of attention. I often cruised the local drive-in's looking for street races. Many people didn't believe the car was a real Hemi. On the front fenders, right above the marker lights in block letters about inch in height, in the same black tape as the other striping on the car, was the word "HEMI" and it looked phony. When the car was parked with the engine shut off, I'd hear comments such as "who is he trying to fool?" But that's the way the car came and I don't know if it was done at the factory or if it was done at the dealer. (I believe that the car came from the factory with this tape Hemi logo.) The car also had the chrome 426 Hemi logos on the power bulge hood. None of the other Hemi's I've seen have this taped Hemi logo. However, in a street race, there was no question that my car was indeed a HEMI. The competition got a real good look at the rear of my Super Bee disappearing rapidly in front of them! I also raced my car at the Oswego, Illinois drag strip in the stock classes, but the car never did well with street tires from a standing start. I liked racing the car on the street from a 20 mph roll as it was easier to keep the tires from breaking loose. It was a real trip to feel the torque push you back against the seat as I pounded the car through the gears!

I had driven the car about 1200 miles when, during an impromptu street race, I heard a clicking sound (ouch)! By the time I could get the motor shut down, it had sucked a valve and the engine had stopped running! When you bought a Hemi, even though it was called a "Street Hemi," it only had a limited warranty on the engine. I had the car towed home, pulled the head off and saw that the valve had pulled through the keeper, hit the piston, broke the head off the valve and pushed it into intake port destroying the head and a piston. When I found out what the parts were going to cost, (plus the fact I didn't think it was MY fault as I hadn't over-reved the motor), I called the Chrysler Zone Office. They told me to take the car to the selling dealer and that they would have a rep look at it. I told them Mr. Norm's was too far away to have the car towed, so they said take it to Don Miller Dodge. You can imagine how thrilled Don Miller's Dodge was to see this car! Anyway, Chrysler warranted the engine, a new head, and a piston were installed along with a few other things like rod bearings. When the repair work was completed and I went to pick up the car, I was told the mechanic that had done the service work wanted to talk to me. He asked, "You ran this car pretty hard didn't you?" I replied, "Why do you say that?" His response was, "The rod bearings were down to copper so try to take it easy because I don't want to see this car again!" I don't think he liked working on Hemi's.

I kept the car for almost four years. I really liked the car. It had the look, the sound, and the performance. To me it was one great ride. During the time I owned the car, I installed American S-200 Mag wheels and a Mallory ignition. I bought a set of Hooker Headers, but never installed them on the car. I sold the car in late 1974 with only 3,300 miles on it for $2800. The original wheels, hub caps, and the headers went with the car at the time of the sale. Believe me, over the years I have come to regret selling this car knowing now that this car was one of only nine 1971 Super Bees built with a Hemi and a four speed! I had a feeling back in 1974 that I shouldn't sell it. But, at the time insurance rates were skyrocketing, gas was almost impossible to buy, I was getting interested in Street Rodding rather than Drag Racing and I was trying to buy a house. And as my Dad said to me, "All that car does is take up garage space, cost you money, you hardly ever drive the car and what good is it?" Who knew at the time what the future would hold! I haven't seen my Super Bee in almost 30 years, but I've never forgotten it! All I have left is my original paper work plus the original Dealer Files for my car from Grand Spaulding Dodge that I have been fortunate to have acquired recently. Most importantly, I'll always have memories of owning a very special automobile.

All the copies of the original paper work shown on this web page have been marked with the word "copy" to protect against possible fraud. My car's serial number and my personal information has been concealed, as I would like to find my old Super Bee (before someone else does). I've tried several times since 1985 to locate the car and/or the person who bought the car from me, but with no success. Short of finding and buying the car back, I would be very interested just to know that my car has survived. My hope is that if I can't find and own my old Super Bee again, it's alive and well and being pamper by its owner. I hate to even think that it may have been crushed, shredded, destroyed, or ended up a stripped-out shell rusting away in some junk yard.

UPDATE 12/01/04
Mr. Norm ordered and sold five Hemi Super Bee's in 1971, two four speeds and three auto's, colors Blue, purple, red and orange, not sure about the fifth ones color, all were built in St. louis. The purple car was sold in April of ' 71 and I sure it was on the lot when I looked at mine, it was an automatic.

Thanks,
Jeff

 
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