Story and photos by Mike Eppinger
Sometimes a car calls out to you when you least expect it. Bill “Z” Zeromski wasn’t always a diehard MoPar man. In fact, he used to be a Ford disciple until fate intervened and a Super Bee changed him forever.
Zermonski’s Butterscotch 1969 Dodge Super Bee is the result of a car being seen at the right place, at the right time. Back in the 1960s Zermonski prowled the streets in his ’65 Mustang until he decided to trade it in on an order for a new 1968 Ford Torino.
The sloped-back Torino mated with a 427-cid Cobra Jet beast under the hood was the ticket for a hot street car. Or so he thought. According to Zermonski, the Ford dealership in Milwaukee, Wis. had shown him the available options list, which included the 427 Cobra Jet, so he put his deposit down and ordered his Torino. All seemed to be going as planned until three weeks later the salesman informed Zermonski that Ford no longer offered the 427 engine and had replaced it with the 428. The 428 was down on power (on paper) and did not have the racing underpinnings of its 427 predecessor. Zermonski decided to pass on the Torino and went on his way.
Time went by and Zermonski and a car buddy, who owned a 428 Cyclone, happened to be enjoying a cold one at a local tavern when a ’69 Torino Cobra Jet rolled to a stop at a red light in front of the establishment. A Butterscotch and Black 1969 Super Bee pulled up in the next lane. Of course, any red-blooded muscle-car fanatic would be interested in what was going to happen when the light changed. As Zermonski put it, “That Super Bee crushed him!” The MoPar beat the best Ford had to offer and Zermonski took notice. He went home that night and turned on the TV and saw a commercial for the Super Bee. The universe was telling him something and his allegiance changed to MoPar. Zermonski ended up going to the local Dodge dealer and bought a Super Bee. Unfortunately, he could not find the rare High Impact Butterscotch and Black combo he was looking for.
Fast forward 40-plus years and three Roadrunners in between, Zermonski once again was reminded of the powerful draw of the Super Bee. He saw a classified ad in Old Cars Weekly for a Super Bee in North Carolina. He was living in Wisconsin and the seller even delivered for $500. Once again the Super Bee was calling and Zermonski could not pass the deal up.
He decided that he was going to restore this Super Bee in the High Impact Butterscotch and Black combination that caught his eye all those years ago. The car appeared solid but after tearing into the resto project he found that there was work done on the Dodge in the past and the driver’s side rear fender was sculpted out of Bond-o. Without new metal there would be no way to end up with a razor straight restoration. The decision was made to replace both rear quarters and the Super Bee was sprayed in Butterscotch. The classic matte black hood nailed the look.
Zermonski’s Super Bee was built to cruise the open road and he has replaced the original 4.10 gears in back in favor of highway friendly 3.23’s which are channeled through a TorqueFlite automatic. Don’t worry, the Super Bee still has a lot of bite; Zermonski also added 952 (closed chambered) heads and a hotter Comp Cam to the 440 Six-Pack hiding underneath the hood.
Bill enjoys his “Bee” as much as the Wisconsin weather permits. He makes it to local shows such as the Wisconsin Dells Autorama where he went home an award winner. With such a head turning color combination and impeccable lines, Bill’s Super Bee truly stands out in a crowd. After all, it was meant to be.
1969 Dodge Super Bee history:
A two-door hardtop with a $3,138 starting price joined the Coronet Super Bee line in 1969. The Sport Coupe returned with a $3,076 sticker. There were few changes in appearance or standard equipment. They included a single, wider rear bumblebee stripe and a Dodge “Scat Pack” badge on the grille and trunk, plus front fender engine call-outs.
Three two-barrel Holley carbs on an aluminum Edelbrock manifold were the heart of the new “Six-Pack” performance option. Cars so equipped generated 390 hp and 490 lbs.-ft. of torque. The Six-Pack option included a flat black fiberglass hood that locked in place with four chrome pins so that it could be entirely removed for access to the engine.
There was also a new Ramcharger cold-air induction system (standard with cars having the optional Street Hemi V-8) that featured two large hood-mounted air scoops, an under-hood air plenum and a switch to select between warm and cold air. The Super Bee Six-Pack came with a choice of a four-speed manual gearbox or a TorqueFlite automatic transmission linked to a 9 3/4-inch Dana 60 Sure-Grip axle with 4.10:1 gears. A total of 27,800 Super Bees were built. This included 166 Hemi-powered cars, 92 of them with four-speeds.
In a January 1969 comparison of six “econo-racers” Car and Driver magazine got its hands on a new Super Bee with: a 3.55:1 limited-slip differential ($102.15 extra), power disc brakes ($93.10), head restraints ($26.50), foam-padded seats ($8.60), automatic transmission ($40.40), a remote-adjustable mirror ($9.65), three-speed windshield wipers ($5.40), undercoating ($16.60), rear quarter air scoops ($35.80), rear bumper guards ($16), a tachometer and clock ($50.15), cold air induction ($73.30), AM radio ($63.35), power steering ($97.65), styled wheels ($88.55), F70 x 14 tires and the base 383-cid/335-hp V-8.
The car, which listed for $3,858 fully equipped and weighed 3,765 lbs., could go from 0-to-60 in 5.6 seconds. It did the quarter-mile in 14.04 seconds at 99.55 mph. However, the magazine found the car to have a dual-point distributor and large-diameter exhaust pipes, which seemed at first to be “stock” but later proved to be tweaks made by Chrysler. “We can’t consider our test car’s performance to be representative of a 383 Super Bee you would buy,” said the editors. “From our experience, we would estimate a production car in good tune to run about 98.5 mph in the 14.20-second range.” Even that’s not too shabby.
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