Mark Hemrich has an eagle eye to say the least. While out of town one day in the late 1990’s, he spotted a grey 1971 Dodge Charger sitting out in the middle of a field near Clinton, British Columbia. “I couldn’t help but think, ‘Cool; I wouldn’t mind having a car like that,’ but I really didn’t think much more of it,” recalls Mark. He never got around to finding the owner so the car continued to sit.
One day in 2001, while he was out back working in his garage, a guy named Dennis driving an old beat-up Chevy pickup came up the alley with a car trailer. On the back just so happened to be the same 1971 Charger. It turns out that Dennis had bought it from the original owner in Clinton and had heard Mark was into Mopars and was “the guy to see” if he wanted to sell it and make a quick buck.
The car looked exactly as how he had remembered it except now the original flat hood was gone and an orange Super Bee hood was on the car. Dennis had a buddy who had the Super Bee hood stored in his garage and he somehow managed to trade the guy straight across for the flat hood off the Charger; talk about a score!
The Charger was originally a 383-2bbl automatic 500 model but the original 383 had been replaced with a 400 at some point. Interested in the Charger, Mark asked Dennis how much he wanted for it. $5,000 was his reply. Mark politely told him thanks but no thanks; he wasn’t interested at that price. Dennis then opened the tail gate of his truck and told Mark all of the parts in the box of the truck came with it too.
The parts included three spoilers, a full set of 15×7 Rallye wheels, one 440 engine and two 727 transmissions to name some of them. Mark told Dennis he’d give him $4,000 for the whole works. Dennis said no, he needed $5,000 so Mark then asked if he had the title to the car with him. Dennis said well no, he didn’t but he was going back up to Clinton and would get it from the original owner.
“I told him I definitely wasn’t interested without the title. He told me he didn’t want to tow the car the four hours back up to Clinton and he really didn’t even have the gas money to get back up there. He was counting on selling the car to me,” shared Mark.
Mark offered Dennis $2,700 for the Charger; he didn’t want the parts. Mark gave Dennis a $500 deposit and told him if he didn’t show up with the title within 7 days, he was going to cut up the Charger and part it out to get his $500 back. Dennis agreed so they offloaded the Charger and Dennis went on his way back to Clinton. Seven days went by and Dennis still hasn’t shown up. However, Mark was busy doing an engine swap in an Astro van for a friend so he gave it a few more days. On the ninth day, Mark decided enough was enough so he pushed the Charger into the garage and pulled the fenders and doors off of it getting ready to part it out.
“Just as I was starting to take it apart to sell the parts off, here he comes down the alley and sure enough, he had the clear title and transfer papers with him. I told him he was really lucky and he didn’t know how close he was to having the car cut up. It came so close to being cut up and sold off for parts. If I didn’t have that engine job delaying me, it would be history now,” says Mark. Dennis still had the parts in the back of the truck and was determined to sell them so they agreed on $300 for the whole lot of parts.
Mark put the car back together and threw a temporary permit on it so he could drive it around. Literally 5 miles into his first drive with the car, a head gasket on the tired 400 went kaput. Mark decided at that point to do a full restoration on the car. Since he already had the Super Bee hood, he decided he would build it into a Super Bee replica. His first plan of attack was to redo the entire interior. He installed brand new upholstery, carpet, door panels; the works.
Once the interior was finished, he took the chrome and other various exterior parts off the car and trailered it to a body shop in Maple Ridge to get the body and paint done. The body was in fantastic shape with the exception of some minor rust at the bottom of the quarters and front fenders. The shop started on the rust repair and about three weeks in, the owner gave Mark a call.
“He called me and told me they had a problem with my car and I needed to come in and see it ASAP,” recalled Mark. When he got to the shop, he couldn’t believe his eyes. The shop had masked off all of the glass so you couldn’t see inside the car. While they were cutting out and replacing some rust on the bottom of the quarter in front of the driver’s side rear wheel, the guy working on it hadn’t realized a spark had somehow made its way into the interior and set it on fire until smoke started pouring out of the car!
While the fire damage was minimal and was contained to the driver’s rear corner of the interior; the body shop ruined the entire brand new interior by emptying a fire extinguisher into the car. Once they completed the body work and painted the exterior in a shiny coat of Hemi Orange, Mark brought it home and started re-assembling the car which included all brand new interior pieces courtesy of the body shop’s check book. Mark says he built the car to his personal tastes so he added the front and rear spoiler package, dual painted mirrors and the floor mounted cassette player. While it was originally equipped with buckets and a console, Mark converted it the buckets and buddy seat set-up you see.
Originally, Mark installed a mildly built 440 and 727 automatic transmission to replace the shot 400. Shortly after, he decided he wasn’t 100% happy with it so he tore out the 727 and installed a complete 4 speed set-up from a 1973 Rallye Charger. After striving for more and more power, three engines later Mark finally found the perfect combination that worked for him.
The 440 sitting between the fenders features 8.2:1 compression, 915-casting closed chamber heads with 2.14/1.81 valves, Mopar Performance .525 solid lifter camshaft, Mopar M1 intake and a 750cfm Edelbrock carburetor. The big block breathes through a pair of Hedman headers that lead into a full 2.5” system featuring 40 series Flowmaster mufflers. Topping them off is a pair of original style ‘shotgun’ exhaust tips.
The A833 4-speed is shifted through a Centerforce dual friction clutch and legendary wood grain Hurst pistol grip shifter. The 8 ¾ rear end is fitted with an Auburn locker and 3:91 gears. The Super Bee rolls on a set of 15×7 Rallye wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich Radial T/As: 275/60R15 and 255/60R15.
When Mopar Connection originally met Mark, we quickly became great friends with him and instantly fell in love with his collection of Mopars. You’ll recognize his name as we’ve done features in the past on his black 1968 Satellite and Plum Crazy 1970 Charger R/T. We’ve always wanted to do a feature on the Super Bee however because it was in long term storage at his cabin 5 hours away, it was just never in the cards. This past April, a good friend of Mark’s named Marc Alexander sold his 1968 Satellite convertible and decided he wanted to purchase the ‘Bee.
They had come to an agreement with a price around two years prior but it took selling his convertible to make it happen for Marc. Honoring his word, Mark let the ‘Bee go and the keys were handed over to Marc. Marc says he plans on driving the Bee as much as he can. While he has a few minor TLC items he wants to take care of, he has no plans to change anything. He’s in love with the car just as it is!
While talking to Marc, we decided to see if he’d be interested in having the car featured in the magazine. Not only was he game for doing a feature on the car; he tossed us the keys and gave it to us for an hour or so to do our thing! We want to extend a huge thank you to Marc and Mark for everything and making this possible!