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.