Monocoque body, 8.5 s to a hundred and 28 liters per 100 km: the experience of owning a Dodge Coronet Super Bee 1969
American muscle cars in our country are primarily known for a couple of mass-produced models promoted in the movies. However, this is only a small part of the huge segment of cars of the 60s and 70s, most of which can hardly be found in many car dealerships, and even more so on the roads. The Dodge Coronet is one of those rare models.
The owner of the car, Nikolai, who exhibited his car in the MOST museum in the capital and helped Kolesy in testing and filming, says:
– I wanted to buy a muscle car from the Chrysler family of the late 1960s, but at the same time it was quite rare in our country. For example, we have a lot of Dodge Chargers because of their movie hype, we also have a Plymouth GTX, but the Dodge Coronet hardly shows up.
The car was searched in the USA in the period of 2019-2020, since at that time it was often there for work, and at the end of the 20th year it was purchased. I wanted to find a car in a completely original condition, with native components and assemblies, and not even riveted nameplates. Both for personal satisfaction and for the absence of problems with legal customs clearance and registration lately without “helpers" and bribes. And such a search, I must say, is not a trivial task even for the USA, where the choice of their vintage cars is very wide.
The fact is that the rare car has not been subjected to any tuning for a long time, even if it is based on native parts raised “on bolts”. Engines were changed to more powerful engine modifications, transmissions and axles, brakes, etc. were repeatedly changed. And in the end it is extremely difficult (and sometimes impossible) to determine which car left the factory gates half a century ago …
At the same time, this Dodge Coronet has everything original, and even native disc drum brakes and an absent vacuum booster, something that was usually privately upgraded as a must-have, if not by the first buyer during the period of the model’s relevance, then certainly one of the new hosts for decades to come. In addition, a separate emphasis was placed on the bottom. American restorers, even those who work at a fairly high level, often do not pay attention to the background and cover it with black decorative putties right on top of the rust. Visually looks good, but in a climate other than California, it quickly begins to peel off. Therefore, looking for a car without such effects in the belly.
The second important condition for the search was the initial high-quality full restoration in the USA, because restoration has recently been more expensive and laborious due to difficulties with spare parts and specialists in specific models and modifications, which are enough abroad. In addition, they were looking for a copy not just restored for sale, but made some time ago. This would partly demonstrate the seriousness of the previous owner’s intentions to own the car, as well as provide a certain level of quality work, which after a few years is clearly visible. This 88,000 mile Super Bee Coronet was purchased for $100,000 from an American retiree who fully restored the car.
Describing and evaluating the design of muscle cars of the 1960s and 1970s is a thankless task. All these cars are sickeningly beautiful, embodying a stunning and hopelessly gone era of kitsch and madness, freedom and speed, unbridled consumerism and thoughtless luxury. “The predatory deeds of the century,” as Voznesensky said, and then the Strugatskys, by the way, the same years …
The outlines of the Dodge Coronet are reminiscent of a classic muscle car. A huge 5.2-meter blade with a width of 1.95 meters, giant front and rear overhangs, a side line of the “bottle”, glazing of the contours of the blade – and all this in a desperate red color! The king of the roads – in full accordance with the name!
The packaging of this crown is called "Super Bee", and is symbolized by a daring bee on a wildly spinning wheel in the form of embossed crests and livery. In addition, the “bee”, unlike the regular version, added large aggressive air intakes on the hood and rear fenders to the exterior. Also, if the nostrils of the hood really carry out some kind of “supercharging” in the intake manifold, then the side ears to Zaporozhets on the Crown are props. They do not direct air to cool the rear brakes, as it might seem at first glance. And in general they don’t send them anywhere, because there are no holes in the wings for them. But they look good!
The absence of a B-pillar on the hardtop coupe adds to the lightness of the car both inside and out!
15-inch stamped wheels on rubber of the original dimension 235/60 are native, it was on them that the car rolled off the assembly line in 1969. Although most of his brethren who have survived to this day have long since replaced his “darkness” into a supposedly beautiful, but completely non-canonical alloy that does not fit into the style.
The Coronet saloon has two large and comfortable triple sofas, front and rear. Yes, this car is officially a six-seater!
Door skins are the simplest, they are not ashamed to open the immodest "nudity" of painted metal!
The torpedo as a whole is almost identical to the Dodge Charger torpedo of the same years. The dashboard, despite its simplicity, is quite informative. Four small scales display fuel level, coolant temperature, oil pressure and current, while two large scales display speed, rpm and time. Yes, yes, in the left "well" two devices installed "coaxially" are combined. A clock is located in the center of the disc, and a speed arrow runs along the periphery. Whose limb, by the way, is also atypically marked, in tens with a multiplier icon "x10". And not in units familiar to us with a multiplier of "x100".
The regular radio clearly, without loss of authenticity, has an AUX input for an external source such as a player or smartphone. There is no air conditioning in this instance, the “climate” control panel allows you to switch only between outdoor air and heating.
The trunk is not too deep, but has a huge area and is convenient to load due to the slightly protruding bumper body and the ability to get closer.
The Coronet engine is a naturally aspirated 383 V that lives up to its name: 383 cubic inches corresponds to 6.3 liters in our system of measurements (6281 cc to be precise). Usually this engine was called quietly – "383", and it was installed on many models of Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth. However, in trim levels beyond the base one, it was often referred to as voice prefixes. Dodge – Magnum (no connection with the Dodge Magnum model), Plymouth – Commando. The engine is powered by a single-chamber carburetor and produces (honestly measured at the stand) 340 forces. Maximum torque – 576 Nm at 3400 rpm.
The Magnum version featured a looser intake manifold, different camshaft and heads from the 440-inch engine. In addition, it could be equipped with a "supercharger" called "ramcharger" in the form of gills on the hood, which inside became a diffuser that covered the air filter. This system, of course, did not raise the air pressure above atmospheric, but performed the so-called "cold intake", which allowed the engine to suck in colder air than in the engine compartment at high speed.
Ignition – contact transistor. “Zhigulevtsy” and “Muscovites” of the 70s and 80s did not need to explain the essence of this term, and now it has already been forgotten. This means that the classic pair of contacts in the distributor serves as a spark moment sensor, but does not feed the ignition coil directly, as in a purely contact ignition system, but sends a signal to a transistor switch, the key electronics in which, in turn, generates a strong current pulse on the spools primary winding. Since the Hall sensor was not yet used as a replacement for the contact group in those years, such a scheme made it possible to discharge the contact pair from a large current, from which it quickly burned out and lost its tuning accuracy.
The transmission is an A727 three-speed automatic transmission from Chrysler’s TorqueFlite family of torque converters. With torque converter clutch lock. Digesting torque and having a very simple design, the box remains a favorite of orthodox dragster tuners to this day. The first gearbox in the TorqueFlite family, which received a lightweight aluminum body instead of its cast-iron predecessor, saving thirty kilograms on this. Also on this Crown in the automatic transmission there is already a built-in parking brake, a few years earlier on the A727 it had to be implemented as an UAZ handbrake – on an additional drum that was in the cardan section.
Steering: with hydraulic booster and worm gear. The front suspension is a double wishbone spring, the rear is a continuous axle on longitudinal leaf springs. Brakes: drum, without vacuum booster.
By the way, those who are well versed in drum brakes know that when using them, two cylinders are usually used on the front axle, one for each C-shaped pad of the other. Despite the general archaism of drum brakes in general and on the front axle in particular, the single-cylinder version was once used on all four wheels. So, the appearance of two-cylinder "drums" was presented as a technological breakthrough, and even advertised very extravagantly! For example, the previous fourth generation Dodge Coronet became known as the world’s first and last car to officially host high-speed racing with aircraft auxiliary rocket engines.
Despite the really excellent condition of the body, this Coronet still showed a number of shortcomings, the elimination of which required certain investments and time.
During the delivery process, the keys were lost, so I had to order new larvae on the door. I had to re-solder some of the wiring – the headlights and taillights weren’t working properly. Replaced a dead wiper motor. The carburetor was redesigned, adding a little performance to it (not from a garage grandfather specializing in Ozones and Solexes, of course, but from experienced retro Americans). The native steering gear had a massive backlash (even by the standards of these machines, where this is the norm), and the tuned bulkhead could not completely eliminate it. As a result, it was decided to order a remanufactured gearbox in the USA, which cost $ 700 with delivery from Ebay. Usually.
The thrust of the engine and the dynamics of the car surprise even those who are familiar with the muscle cars of those times! Although the coronet is heavy in itself (curb weight 1730 kg, maximum weight 2425 kg), but, unlike many full-size cars of those years, it has a cargo body and is devoid of a frame as a separate structure. Therefore, there is no additional two hundred kilograms of weight here, which significantly affects the overclocking performance for the better. Yes, and the three-speed helps – our copy showed 8.5 seconds to a hundred, perhaps this is not too impressive against the background of the modern Touareg with a diesel V8 of similar power, which is 2-2.5 seconds faster. But to be honest
The volume of the fuel tank is 90 liters, although against the background of the voracity of a 6.3-liter monster, and even with an additional shamanic carburetor, such a reserve does not look like something extraordinary. When driving outside the city in the speed range of 70-120 km / h, the consumption is 25-28 liters "ninety seconds". If you “measure miles by quarters”, then it’s even scary to imagine …
A thin frill with three pierced knitting needles “under the sport” is squeezed by large palms like a pencil. The diameter of the "flywheel" could be safely halved due to the incredible power of the hydraulic impeller, which allows you to turn it by holding the horn in the middle of the flywheel with two fingers. When driving actively, you need to brake in advance and spare no effort from the foot: the absence of a vacuum remains an important feature that radically changes the character of braking compared to any modern car, and Coronet brakes require a certain habit. Since the reaction to the gas pedal is such that even with a light touch, it will not be difficult to instantly approach the bumper of the car in front.
However, any inconvenience is offset by the time travel sensation that surrounds driving this type of car. A journey into a bygone era, which you know only by hearsay and from films, but enveloping you with its atmosphere from the palms squeezing a thin and ridiculous steering wheel to the accelerator trembling elastically under your foot. A mighty eight gurgles in a bass voice, Jerry Lee Lewis plays through his native analog radio from an iPhone hidden in the glove box out of sight, a cool wind whistles through glass triangles, and the track freezes the horizon …
Dodge Coronet was produced from 1948 to 1976 and went through seven generations. The model was first introduced in distinctive pre-war styling as a full-size business sedan. In the third and fourth generations (1955-1959), the car took on the characteristic look of that time “a la elvismobile” with strange and extravagant body shapes. And in the fifth generation it has already become known as a muscle car with HEMI engines up to 7 liters. Despite the presence of a sedan and station wagon in the range, the most popular were the coupe, hardtop and convertible bodies. Relatives of the fifth Coronet platform were such well-known muscle cars as the Dodge Charger and Plymouth GTX. Partly "oil style" was retained in the sixth generation (1971-1974), although only a 4-door sedan and a 5-door station wagon were offered … And in the last seventh generation Coronet, it finally returned as a sedan to the business segment, as well as a clan of station wagon models, and the year of manufacture of the two-door hardtop (1975) did not change anything. In 1977, the Coronet name disappeared from the Dodge lineup.