DAILY GRIND

NZV8 - - CONTENTS -

Hi, Mar­cus — you’re driv­ing some­thing we def­i­nitely don’t see ev­ery day. Could you tell us what it is? It’s a 2013 Dodge Su­per Bee, and only 600 of them were made. I asked Don [McIl­wain] if he could track one down, which ac­tu­ally proved quite dif­fi­cult, but he even­tu­ally found one in Davis, Cal­i­for­nia. It was a fairly sub­stan­tial Chrysler deal­er­ship, and it was the owner’s car. He’d had it more or less in stor­age from new and had de­cided to make some room in his garage. It ar­rived here late 2015.

Who is Don McIl­wain? Don is based in Cal­i­for­nia and as­sists our clients here at Fa­mous Pa­cific Ship­ping when they are look­ing for a spe­cific ve­hi­cle. He has a strong back­ground in Mopars, and he used to own a restora­tion shop. He comes down to New Zealand for Beach Hop, where we have a stand. Peo­ple come through all day with a list of ve­hi­cles they’re look­ing for, and he goes home with a long list, to find the ve­hi­cles in the con­di­tion and at the price they’re look­ing for. Very of­ten, he is suc­cess­ful. Don’s strength is both me­chan­i­cal and in the con­di­tion of the body. So, with this car, he checked it out and told me it was as new — show­room con­di­tion — and it ar­rived ex­actly as he de­scribed.

Don doesn’t only deal with the Mopar side of things, though? Oh, no. He’s an author­ity on Mopar, but he’s very pas­sion­ate about all man­ner of mus­cle cars, and cars from the 1950s right through. He’ll source all man­ner of ve­hi­cles.

When you said you were af­ter one of these cars in par­tic­u­lar, was there any rea­son? I just felt like I needed a change of car. I was a bit hes­i­tant to get an older ve­hi­cle as a daily-driver, be­cause, ob­vi­ously, so much can go wrong. The old cars are pretty cool, but some­times the com­fort fac­tor can be a bit com­pro­mised — you’ve got bench seats, or you’re on the mo­tor­way and air’s com­ing in from all di­rec­tions, all that kind of stuff! As much as I like to drive older cars, a mod­ern car’s more prac­ti­cal.

Have you had older V8 ve­hi­cles be­fore? Yeah, I’ve had a ’68 Chrysler New Yorker, a re­ally orig­i­nal one with a 440. I’ve also got a ’62 Oldsmo­bile Starfire and a ’78 Lin­coln Con­ti­nen­tal Di­a­mond Ju­bilee — a very, very rare car, built for the 75th an­niver­sary of the Ford Mo­tor Com­pany.

So, you’ve got the best of both worlds with one of these? Yeah, pretty much so. Es­sen­tially, the Su­per Bee is built in the spirit of the orig­i­nal Su­per Bee, so it doesn’t have all the bells and whis­tles. It’s got enough of the crea­ture com­forts to make it com­fort­able, but it doesn’t have elec­tric ev­ery­thing. What it does have is plenty of horse­power and plenty of per­for­mance.

That’s the 392 Hemi, is it? It is, yes. It’s got 470hp and 470lb·ft and is sur­pris­ingly good on gas. Be­cause it’s a four-door, the vi­sion is very good. I get asked reg­u­larly about driv­ing a left-hand drive, and, hon­estly, I don’t no­tice it. The Su­per Bee also has a six-speed au­to­matic — a man­ual dai­ly­driver with a heavy clutch would be a bit much.

How did you go about get­ting this car into the coun­try and on the road, as it must have qual­i­fied as a Spe­cial In­ter­est Ve­hi­cle? Yeah, it does. Es­sen­tially, one of the cri­te­ria was that it had to have con­fir­ma­tion that it was only avail­able in left-hand drive. I called Chrysler in Detroit; I ex­pected it’d be a re­ally hard job, but they have a divi­sion in SRT. I ex­plained that the author­i­ties here wouldn’t al­low the car on the road un­less I could con­firm that Chrysler built only 600 of them and never built them in right­hand drive. They were very good, and came back over email with the whole nine yards.

Deal­ing abroad doesn’t need to be a night­mare in this day and age! Thanks for the chat, Mar­cus.

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