In today’s times, many can only dream of finding a rare Mopar hidden away. While most think the days of finding that elusive Hemi or Six Pack car stashed away are long gone, stories of incredible finds from Mopar fanatics like Curtis Arnold prove that theory wrong. Many dream of coming across that forgotten and neglected rare Mopar sitting in a barn or field but will say those dreams usually don’t end up resulting in much. For Curtis, his recent find and purchase of a factory 1969 1/2 Dodge A12 Super Bee are what dreams are made of!
Over the last few years of working for the local power company, 25-year-old Curtis has run across many classic cars and trucks sitting forgotten about. You know, the typical “I’ll get to it someday” type of deal. “I always had wild ambitions of finding a barn find of some kind and building my dream car out of it”, shares Curtis.
Working for the power company means Curtis goes on a lot of different properties all over which gives him the perfect opportunity to check out cars that most wouldn’t get to see. He says, “I’ve come across a lot but most of the time, because my job involves me having to be there to turn the lights off, I get run off the property pretty quick before I can ever ask about any cars.”
In June 2019, Curtis was working in a small town of less than 450 people in rural Arkansas when he passed an older orange muscle car sitting under a treeline off the dirt road. As it turns out, the car just so happened to be sitting on the property he was looking for to complete a move-out request. After getting his work done, he decided to take a quick look at the car that was sitting in some taller weeds.
He shares, “The property appeared to be abandoned so I made a couple of laps around the car and snapped some pictures of it before leaving to head to my next stop for the day. It was sitting in the grass and had a lot of moss and algae growing on it. After talking to a friend of mine later on and doing some Googling, I came to the realization that I may have found something really special; a 1969 Dodge Super Bee with a fiberglass hood.”
The next day Curtis happened to be working within a few miles of the property so he couldn’t help but go back for a second look. Once he got there, he snapped some better pictures of the important items like the fender tag, VIN and such.
“I noticed the neighboring place seemed to have someone living there so I figured I’d knock on their door to try and find out about the car. I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t. An older lady answered the door so I explained who I was and that I had been working next door for the power company in an attempt to make the introduction a little easier. I asked about the Super Bee and if she knew how to contact the owner. She stared back at me with a sort of frustration that would make anyone a little uneasy during a first conversation,” he tells us.
He continues to say, “She told me that the property was hers and her husbands and that the Super Bee belonged to him. I asked her if he was around to maybe talk with him to find out the car’s story and to see what his plans were with it. She gave me the typical speech about how I wasn’t the first to stop and ask about it and how he had turned down anyone trying to buy it. At this point I was starting to feel like I was overstaying my welcome so I asked her to please give him my contact information and to have him please contact me if he felt like at least talking about the car.”
Curtis got back in his truck and started driving around the circular driveway behind the house to leave. Low and behold, he spotted a 1968-1969 Plymouth GTX sitting out back next to one of the barns. As he was exiting the driveway, an older gentleman in an old farm truck pulled in. Curtis flagged him down and introduced himself, explaining that he had stopped by to find out who owned the Super Bee.
“He chuckled and stated that he used to race back in the day after he got home from the Vietnam war. As it turned out, he owned the cars. He told me he had bought the Super Bee once he made it home from the war in the mid 1970’s. He would race the Super Bee along with multiple other B-Bodies all over the local surrounding counties,” Curtis says.
The owner told Curtis that he had blown up the engine in the car just up the road while trying to pass a friend one day. The engine was pulled out and the car sat as a rolling shell since. He explained that it was a factory 440 Six Pack 1969 1/2 A12 Super Bee with a 4-speed. Curtis asked him what his plans for it were and that it was a shame to see it sitting out there in the field in the elements.
He told him that he had promised his brother-in-law the car so that’s why he hadn’t sold it. “He scratched his head a little and told me that it needed to find a home before it turned to dust so he would contact his brother-in-law to see if he was still interested in it. He said his brother-in-law probably wouldn’t be able to restore it anymore because he had recently become disabled and really couldn’t get around that well anymore but he still wanted to give him first dibs,” shares Curtis.
Realizing that he had been there for quite a bit while on company time still, Curtis thanked him for his time and asked him to please call him when he heard back from his brother-in-law. That night, Curtis spent time researching the car based on the information he had received. He found the A12 Registry website along with some Facebook groups that were associated with A12s to aid in his research.
During his digging, he made a post on one of the Facebook groups about finding one and asking for information on what to look for. After posting pictures of the fender tag and VIN tag, group members confirmed with Curtis that the Super Bee was a real A12. After waiting a few weeks with no word from the owner, he decided to stop by the property. The owner seemed a little irritated but assured him that he had not forgotten about him and that he hadn’t had a chance to talk to his brother-in-law yet but would.
Curtis decided he would leave the owner alone for a while to avoid bugging him too much. After a couple of months went by, Curtis decided to give him a call. He tells us, “He answered the phone in a whole lot better mood than the last time we had spoken. We talked for a bit and he stated that he still hadn’t had a chance to talk to him and that he was getting tired of trying to track him down. He said that his brother-in-law was supposed to be coming over for Thanksgiving and he would talk to him then and let me know.”
In Early December, Curtis learned from the owner that his brother-in-law had gotten sick and didn’t show up for Thanksgiving. Frustrated in constantly chasing him, the owner decided that he would go ahead and sell the car to Curtis after doing some research into the car’s value. The pair agreed to step back and do some further research and would talk after the Holidays.
By the time January rolled around, Curtis was beyond excited. He says, “I gave him a call to try and arrange something. He asked me to come back out, look at the car with him and go through his barn of old engines and race parts to discuss pricing. My brother and I loaded up and headed out there one afternoon, excited to see the car again along with this potential gold mine of a barn.”
He continues to say, “We got to talking with him about his past with all of his cars and what he had done with them; from racing to driving the GTX on his honeymoon and everything in between. We made our way out to the car and looked it over really well. He reminded me that the original engine was blown up but he seemed to think he had put the original Six Pack intake and carburetor assembly in the trunk of the car.”
Since the original keys were missing, Curtis removed the back seat to discover that the Six Pack assembly was indeed in the trunk along with the air cleaner and vintage “Cal-Customs” aluminum valve covers. “I was blown away by the fact that they still existed with the car but I had to do my best to keep my buyer’s poker face on. It was really hard though,” says Curtis.
While checking the Super Bee over, Curtis realized that it was mostly all there but had some rust issues in the floors, especially the passenger side floor pan. They made their way over to the barn and started checking everything out. Not only did the man have quite a few engines stashed away but also multiple 4-speed transmissions, Six Pack set ups and other various B-Body parts.
Curtis shares, “He took the time to show me everything and teach me about it all. While looking through everything, I realized that I absolutely under no circumstance could leave without putting an offer on the table. However the offer had to be just right. It had to be good enough to not get me thrown off the property along with hold up to whatever he thought the stuff was worth. I made him an offer that I was comfortable with and he told me he would do a little bit more digging to see if it was a fair enough number.”
A month went by and Curtis was getting ready to leave for a new job out of State. He decided to call the owner and see if he had any further thoughts about his offer. He answered and told Curtis that when he got back from his work trip and once the ground dried up, he could come get the Super Bee. He also told Curtis that he had the original blown up engine somewhere so he would dig it out and give it to Curtis with the car, along with another good block with a supposed spun bearing. He said he’d also try and find the original 4-speed transmission for it.
After getting back from a two month stay on the East Coast, Curtis contacted him to arrange to pick up the Super Bee. A day was picked and he made his way over with a trailer. “When we pulled in, there he was up on the hill mowing the overgrown grass to make it a little easier to load up. We loaded the car up and I paid him. We sat around, talked a while and heard some of his crazy stories with his cars”, he shares.
“As it turns out, the Super Bee wasn’t even his favorite car. In fact, he actually kind of hated it. He told me he his favorite car was a ’71 Hemi ‘Cuda with a column shift that he had sold about 10 years prior. It was supposedly in Texas somewhere getting restored.”
After getting the Super Bee home, Curtis realized the title he had been given for the car was an original Oklahoma title from 1970. When he asked him about it, the owner informed Curtis that he had purchased the car way back to strictly race it and had never registered it in his name.
Curtis says, “It just further added to the cool history behind this A12. Since getting it home, I’ve cleaned it heavily while I figure out my plan of attack. I want to say a special thank you to Dave Carson from the A12 Registry for all of the help and information through all of this. I learned from him that this car had not been registered with the registry until I bought it; it was totally unknown! If I learned anything from all of this; you never know what they might say until you ask. These cars are still out there to be found, you just have to do some driving and go find them.”