Every year during Mopar Nationals in Hebron, Ohio we at Mopar Connection come across many amazing builds. This year was no different. The aftermarket is exploding with new parts and many Mopar enthusiasts are finding new ways to utilize many of these parts to create ultimate driving machines. We talked to a lot of different car owners during the show but one stood out of the crowd. Steve Kranick’s 1969 Dodge Super Bee (named “Killer Bee”) caught our eye in the TorqStorm booth and we couldn’t get enough of it. Normally, during the show it can be difficult to squeeze in a photo shoot between the weather and schedule of the car owners. Luckily this year the weather cooperated and Steve was more than happy to drive us around to grab some awesome shots of his car.
Steve has worked construction most of his life. A few years back, he was at work like any other normal day. Most of the guys that he worked with knew that Steve has always been a car guy. At that time Steve owned a good looking IROC-Z that he would occasionally drive to work. He kept the car clean, did some upgrades but most of all enjoyed driving the car. Although he enjoyed the IROC-Z, he wanted to find a Mopar, like any smart person would. Specifically, Steve was attracted to the B-bodies. Whether it be a Road Runner, Charger, Coronet or any of the other popular B-bodies, he knew that platform was going to be his next car. The only issue was Steve was young and didn’t have the extra cash to buy a restored car.
Like how many tall tales start, Steve was sitting around the water cooler talking about cars when one of his co-workers mentioned that one of the other guys on the crew had a Coronet sitting in his garage. This definitely caught Steve’s attention. Like many of the other cars he went to look at, he assumed that the price tag would be too high or the guy might not even want to sell it. Steve thought about it for a couple of day and finally decided track down this other coworker to find out more. Steve found the Dodge-owning coworker, introduced himself and explained that some of the other guys mentioned that he had a Dodge Coronet sitting in his garage. Steve explained that he was on the search for his next project and was looking for a B-body Mopar. Sure enough it was true, not only was it a Coronet but a 1969 Super Bee with a 383. Although Steve was impressed, he could see the possibility of owning the car slipping away because it was the more sought after Super Bee and still didn’t know if he would sell it.
After talking a short while, Steve finally asked the big question, was it for sale? In a remorseful voice his coworker replied yes. Steve knew at least there was a chance that he could buy it. Knowing it was for sale, the tougher question came next, ”How much?” Steve asked. His coworker replied $5,000. Although that might sound like steal today, this was in 1998. “At that time, I was young and didn’t have much money and most my money was tied up in my IROC-Z Camaro that I was driving around,” Steve told us. He knew that the $5,000 was out of the question for him but wanted to check out the car anyway.
Steve asked his coworker if it would be possible to come take a look at the car some time. He agreed and they planned one night after work. The days in-between Steve tried to think of any way he could come up with the cash to purchase the car. His coworker mentioned that the car had been in a wreck and had been sitting in his garage since 1985. This was another concern of Steve’s because as many of us know, one person’s idea of a “light hit” can be a lot different from the next. Plus, the car would need more money to get it running and who knows what else it would need. The day came that Steve would stop over to look at the ‘Bee. “It must have been the longest day of work ever,” Steve told us. Filled with anticipation, 5 o’clock came and Steve followed his co-worker home. As the garage door raised, a million thoughts went though Steve’s head, from being a huge waste of his time to possible being the perfect find.
As the dust settled, Steve was surprised by the overall condition of the car. Although it was missing the driver’s front fender and the inner fender was shoved in, the rest of the car was in great shape. The vinyl top looked like it was new and all the stainless trim was immaculate. Steve poked his head inside to read only 43,000 miles on the odometer! This was exactly what Steve wanted to find. He knew there would be a little work getting it road worthy but it was a great start for a project. As Steve and his coworker chatted for a bit it was time to put up or shut up. As much as Steve wanted the car, he just didn’t have the extra cash to drop on the car. Steve’s only chance to make the Super Bee his was through some bartering. Steve threw out the idea of possibly trading his IROC-Z for the wrecked Super Bee. To Steve’s surprise his co-worker was interested. It took some sweet talking but his co-worker eventually agreed to the trade.
Days later, Steve showed up with a trailer and his IROC-Z to his coworker’s house. As they started to move stuff out of the way of the Super Bee, his coworker started to back out of the deal. What Steve didn’t know is that this car had been his coworker’s father’s car and was getting pretty choked up over the idea of selling the car. He soon realized that the car has been sitting since 1985 and if he hasn’t done anything since then, he’s probably not going to. He decided to follow through on the deal and push it outside. They loaded it on the trailer and Steve gave him the keys to his IROC-Z.
Many of Steve’s friends and family members thought he was crazy. The IROC-Z was a nice car and was driving. Now he had a wrecked project car that hasn’t ran in 13 years. The only person that agreed with the trade was Steve’s dad. He knew that Steve made the right decision and the timelessness of the classic Mopar would be make for a much cooler ride once Steve fixed the car. Most of all Steve was super excited and was in 7th heaven that he finally found a B-Body Mopar.
It took Steve about 5 years to restore the car back to stock-ish form. Since the rest of the car supported the factory sheet metal and was rust free, he wanted to find an OEM fender. It took a lot of searching and phone calls but eventually Steve came across a rust free fender in Texas. The inner fender took some work because it was bent up pretty bad from where the drunk driver plowed into the car years earlier. The car was repainted as close to the original A4 Silver that PPG could mix. The original 383 was rebuilt and put back in the car. Once the car was restored, Steve didn’t hesitate to drive it. It started out with the steel wheels and dog dishes. Later on he switched to a sportier look with some Crager SS wheels but some time after that found some vintage Motor Wheel Spyder mag wheels for a while.
Steve enjoyed the car for a few years driving it around to local shows and cruising the streets. Feeling pretty confident, Steve decided to take it on the Hot Rod Power Tour. It was a goal of Steve’s to make a 1,500 mile trip with thousands of other classic cars. Although he made it, he found out that the Super Bee was lacking in a few places. Most importantly the drum brakes weren’t sufficient, the 383 drank oil and the he couldn’t pass a gas station without stopping.
Steve decided that if he wanted to continue to attend the Hot Rod Power Tour yearly that he would need to make some adjustments. He started out with installing disc brakes and a Gear Vendors unit behind the 727. “These two upgrades alone made me feel safer and helped increased my fuel mileage without sacrificing performance,” said Steve. He also wanted to the car to have a more resto-mod look and picked up some Forgelines.
The upgrades lasted Steve a couple years until 2011-2012 when Steve decided to rebuild a 440 and 727 for the car. He wanted to build an all around good motor that would last for years to come. He sent the block off to be machined and rebuilt. He decided to use the factory steel crank, Eagle H-beam rods, Wiseco pistons, Edelbrock RPM heads and a custom grind hydraulic roller cam. The 727 was gone through and added a B&M shift kit and 2,100-stall converter. The rebuild of the transmission and motor took longer than Steve had planned for and was worried he wasn’t going to make the 2012 Hot Rod Power Tour. Luckily, everything came together and was able to get the new drivetrain installed just in the knick of time. Nothing like having 1,500 miles to break in your motor and transmission.
Although the car did better on the Power Tour, it still wasn’t good enough for Steve. Since 2012, Steve has installed many upgrades like coil-over front and rear suspension, installed custom interior, built a custom hood, added EFI, new wiring, fuel system, A/C and a TorqStorm supercharger. Since the car was straying from the factory setup, Steve felt it was only necessary to rename the car Killer Bee and added custom badges. “Although I am very happy with the setup of the car right now, I know that I’ll change something else sooner or later. I love driving the car but building the car is just as much fun for me.” Steve continued,”What’s hard to believe is it has been almost 20 years since I have started working on the car and can’t imagine what it might look like in another 20 years.”
We were blown away with Steve’s car from the first time we saw it. We got to ride around in it for half a day and can attest that it drives as nice as it looks. We can see why Steve likes to drive it so much. He also doesn’t hold back. He told us that the car nearly burnt through a set of tires this last Power Tour. From burnouts to the autocross track, Steve wasn’t afraid to beat on the car a little. We wish Steve the best of luck on future Power Tours and can’t wait to see what the future brings for the Killer Bee.