383 Air Grabber! 1971 Dodge Charger Super Bee

If you like vintage Dodge Chargers, you have come to the right place as they get very regular coverage here on Barn Finds! I usually eschew them as there are others here who are much better versed in their particulars, specifications, and qualities. I acquiesced on this 1971 example because it is a one-year-only Super Bee model, one that is considerably less common than either the ever-present Charger R/T or the original Super Bee that was ensconced on the Dodge Coronet between 1968 and 1970. Let’s see what we have here; it is located in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and is available here on eBay for a current bid of $4,700 with eleven bids tendered so far.

Introduced in 1968 as a competitor to Plymouth’s Road Runner, the Dodge Super Bee followed the same basic Road Runner formula applied to Dodge’s “B” body Coronet. In 1971 the Mopar B-body models (Satellite, Road Runner, GTX, Coronet, Charger) were redesigned with a new “fuselage” aerodynamic flavored body. Dodge saw fit to 86 the Coronet two-door model so the Super Bee was moved to the Charger which shared DNA with the Coronet. Super Bee production numbers shrunk to about 5K copies, so it was dropped at the end of the ’71 model year.

An early ’71 production vehicle with an August 1970 build date, this Super Bee’s VIN checks out with the exception of the first digit, “W” which research indicates is a Coronet whereas a Charger, such as this subject, should possess an “X”. It would be great to hear from readers who can shed some light on this matter. The VIN shows this car as possessing the standard Super Bee 300 HP, 383 CI V8 engine but the seller states that it is not original. It is a ’71 vintage 383 motor but it does not run – and he was told that it was rebuilt at some point in the past. Of note, this Super Bee is equipped with an air Grabber Hood but as the seller states, “it’s in very rough shape”. The airbox, however, is supposedly useable. A Torque-Flite three-speed automatic transmission handles gear changes.

The body of this Dodge clearly has its problems, primarily rust. Mostly affected are the quarters and the aforementioned hood, but the area under and around the edge of the vinyl top, which itself is disintegrating, is another potential breeding place. While the bumpers look fair, the rear roll pan is missing. The seller advises that he also has, “NOS front fenders, fiberglass fenders, and bumper, hideaway headlights, and grills, tail lights, power window(s), clean doors and much more“. He also has patch panels for the quarters.

Moving inside, we have Fred Flintstone syndrome occurring in the driver’s footwell. The passenger side appears to be a bit more sound but other detractions abound such as torn upholstery, a cracked and split dash pad, and an earthbound headliner to mention a few. Considering the condition of the floor, it would be advisable to give the entire underside of this Dodge a thorough inspection. It’s hard to get a good look at the rest of the instrument panel but it, and the center console, presents itself as fair. The original radio is MIA – just a dash opening now.

A debate can rage on regarding this fuselage bodied Charger vs. the iconic ’68-’70 design, both have their cheering section and their detractors. One thing that is consistent is that Mopar B-bodies from this era are popular and generally expensive. This one has the attraction of being a genuine, and fairly rare, Super Bee performance variant so it’s going to find a new home. The bid value has actually jumped in the short time that I have been preparing this review but admittedly there’s no telling where it will top out. So Charger fans, what do you think, a viable challenge or hold out for something a bit better?

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Comments

  1. Steve R

    Hard pass.

    The air grabber is always a nice feature, but since it’s not original to the car, does it really add value? I’d rather the sale include his stash of parts instead, which aren’t included. He also isn’t including a title, read his ad, it’s obvious he’s leaving it up to the next buyer to do the DMV paperwork, that alone is reason to rule out this car.

    Steve R

    Like 6
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      ???

      The listing states that he has a clean NJ title.

      JO

      Like 2
      • Steve R

        You are right, I misread the ad. I didn’t see the period between the sentence describing what he was told about the engine and the next referencing the title.

        Steve R

        Like 1
  2. William

    The air grabber was a gimmick meant to impress small minds. It added needless complexity. Only place it really succeeded was to impress someone next to you at a stop light before launch.

    Like 3
  3. William

    The air grabber was a useless option that only worked to impress small minds at a street light before launch, nothing more. Of course, it did increase company profits.

    Like 1
    • Steve R

      You are wrong, read about air flow and boundary layers. This was one of the more effective cold air induction systems available from the factory.

      Steve R

      Like 13
      • William

        How much of an improvement are we really talking about here? Such a small fraction of a second that I am sure it was statistically insignificant. A good driver is what won drag races, not fancy frills. I myself am not a good driver, in fact, never in a single drag race, legal or otherwise, but I did frequent the local track to watch back in the sixties, and it was obvious that while important, horsepower was secondary to skill.

        Like 2
      • Steve R

        William, what does your reply have to do with your original comment? You inferred that the air grabber was intended as a gimmick to impress stupid people, that’s a nasty way to judge people. Yet you failed to address your mistake.

        Performance wise, magazines said early GTO’s benefited about 1/10th in the quarter mile by opening the duct, which equates to roughly 1 car length. This would have been more efficient since it is more exposed to the air stream, thus would provide more of a benefit.

        Steve R

        Like 7
      • William

        Steve R, I respectfully disagree. Most of the races I witnessed were determined by far more than a single car length. A good driver can easily over come that distance by a good launch and better shifting. To me, the added cost was not worth it, plus the silly faces on them speak volumes, hence, a gimmick.

        Like 1
    • Fireballr Member

      As a person that has to work through experiments in order to make statements/decisions for a living, in your comments about watching drag racing and statistically significant differences, I would like to say that unless there is a pure A/B experiment where the same driver is doing multiple runs of two cars with the exact specifications w the exception of the air grabber hood, there is no way the claims about the negligent improvements of the feature can be taken into account. If we want to prove that the driver is the difference, then a single car would run with different drivers, each doing multiple runs that would allow for results to be statistically significant. It would be a lot of runs I think.

      Like 4
      • walter mcclurg

        Any hood scoop that gets fresher air 2 motor always helps, no gimmick. Dodge Chargers [68-70] & Challengers always a nice/hot looking car, but the bodies were made like crap [the worst], that’s why they rust out so fast/easy

  4. Gus Fring

    In 1971, the Super Bee was based on the 2-door Charger. Hence, the “W” in the VIN. The Coronet was relegated to 4-door status, only.

    Like 2
    • Gus Fring

      I should’ve been more clear…there was no “X” for Charger anymore as they consolidated them when they did away with the separate Charger model. They ALL had a “W”, just like the Coronet always did.

      Like 4
      • Jim ODonnell Staff

        Thx for the clarification.

        JO

        Like 1
  5. George Louis Member

    Looks to me that the Air Grabber Hood came off a different car as I do not recall any cars coming out of Lynch Road Assembly Plant in Detroit coming off the Final line Red bodies with white hoods. The future buyer is going to have quite a restoration bill if he does the car correctly.

    Like 1
  6. Desert Rat

    I like to see this car saved and I have taken on worse ,in a 67 Mustang fast back I bought on eBay years ago, so I know it’s a lot of work but the price is low enought that it would make it worth while. ( and that’s the scoop on this car…)

    Like 1

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