Marvelous Mod Top: Darrin Stanke’s 1969 1/2 Dodge A12 Super Bee

At the end of the 1960s, Chrysler banked on the psychedelic craze by adding to its line-up, one of the most eye-catching and bizarre options ever; the “Mod Top.” Also known as the “Floral Top” on Dodge branded vehicles, these funky vinyl tops were available to order on the 1969 Plymouth Barracuda and Satellite, 1969 Dodge Dart and Coronet/Super Bee and the 1970 Plymouth Barracuda.

The Mod Top/Floral Top vinyl roof option was said to have intended to attract women buyers to the showrooms. Besides the special flower patterned vinyl top, some of these cars also came with matching floral seat and door panel inserts. Unfortunately, this option turned out to be somewhat of a flop for Chrysler as not a lot of Mod Top/Floral Top cars were actually produced but they sure led to some very unique cars being created!

At the end of April 1969, a F6 Bright Green 1969 ½ Dodge Super Bee A12 rolled off the assembly line at Lynch Road, Michigan. With the A12’s standard 440-Six Pack engine under the hood backed by a 4-speed manual transmission, this Super Bee was a stunner from the get-go. Optioned with a white bench seat interior and a white bumble bee stripe across the rear, this particular Bee had one very special option that set it apart from every single other one; a Floral Top.

Said to be the only known A12 with a factory installed V1H coded floral top, this Super Bee left the plant and was shipped to Coll Auto Sales in small town Jackson, Ohio. Once it arrived at the dealership, it proved to be a tough sell and ended up sitting on the lot for over a year and a half. Frustrated with the stagnant inventory, the dealership ended up selling the brand new Super Bee at auction to a local small used car dealership.

On April 22nd, 1971, Charlene and Carl Kelly purchased the A12 from the used car dealership and became the first technical owners of this groovy Six-Pack Super Bee. Not much changed with the car over the next year or two with the exception of Cragar SS mags being added and the Six Pack hood was color matched to the car.

The Super Bee’s life was short lived unfortunately as after the Kelly’s sold it in 1972, the second owner wrote it off with only 28,000 miles on the odometer in a horrible accident in 1973. From there, the car was towed to Rocky’s Auto Wrecking where it would be parted out and left to rot. Every spring the lower part of the yard where the car sat would flood and the Super Bee would be under muddy water up to the dash pad.

In the early 1990s, Nigel Mills from Ontario, Canada stumbled across the car sitting in the junkyard. The car was a bare twisted hulk sitting in the mud but still had the original floral top in place still. Knowing what it originally was, Nigel tried multiple times to purchase the car. He said, “We had numerous failed attempts to the buy the A12. One time after being told no, we purchased a beat up 1970 Road Runner instead. It was a B5 Blue hardtop 383 4-speed car with no engine or transmission. We offered $1,000 for the A12 and the owner refused the offer but sold us the Road Runner for $400.”

“The next trip we offered $1,200 for the A12 and was refused again so that time we bought a 1970 Road Runner V-Code 440 Six Barrel coupe with the Hemi 4-speed in the trunk for $600. The engine was missing but it was complete with the Dana and Air Grabber. Those were the days.”

“After five or six trips to Rocky’s, we finally flashed enough cash to buy the hulk in 1993. After paying him $2,000, we dragged the Super Bee out and loaded it. We did an extensive search of the yard for the engine and transmission from the car with no luck. On the way out of the yard, we discovered the original hood with virtually no damage leaning up against his shop. It was covered in dust and had been up in the rafters for who knows how long. Another thousand dollars exchanged hands and it was loaded up too,” explained Nigel.

He continued to say, “Myself and my friend Ray Kerkhoven towed it from Ohio back to Canada behind my 1974 Town and Country station wagon. It was a great trip. Back then, the only rear usable parts were the rear frame rails, over axle floor pan and the rockers. Every other part of the car was either damaged from the accident or cut off in the junkyard.”

Nigel would keep the Super Bee in his own junk yard for a few years before selling it. The car changed hands in Canada a couple of times more before ended up in Wisconsin where it basically disappeared off the radar. Over the years, a ton of NOS parts had been acquired for an eventual restoration including a roll of correct NOS (New Old Stock) floral top material.

Around 2016, Darrin Stanke from Wisconsin started doing some digging into the car’s whereabouts. He stated in a post on the A12 forum, “I did some digging with the Mopar brethren here in Wisconsin. I spoke with someone who has seen it. The last time it saw the light of day was approximately 16 years ago. Supposedly it still is in Wisconsin. I have a general location and will continue to work on finding it.” In August that year, Darrin posted up and confirmed that he had managed to track the car down and purchase it.

Over the next number of years, Darrin would painstakingly restore the car back to its original condition as it left the assembly line. Using a clean donor car and a massive collection of NOS parts along with date-code correct parts, the Super Bee was slowly returned to its original glory.

In 2019, the Super Bee was finally finished and unveiled at its first show. Charlene and Carl Kelly even reunited with their original car and took pictures with it like she had when they first bought it in 1971. Darrin shared, “It was an awesome picture of the same woman 48 years later. It was honestly one of the best moments I have experienced with the hobby. She cried when she saw the car.”

*Special thank you to Mecum Auctions and Nigel Mills for the photographs*

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Cody Krueger

Car Feature Editor – Since the age of 4, Cody has been obsessed with everything Mopar. On Christmas of 1998, Cody's parents gave him a rusty '69 Charger shell that his father saved from a field. Cody's garage still features that '69 Charger as well as the additions of a '71 Charger R/T, '71 Super Bee, '73 Duster, '08 Challenger SRT8 and a '13 Ram 3500. Cody can truly and proudly say that he is a true Mopar nut in love with all types of Mopars!

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