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Many years ago, in a San Francisco that time has forgotten, there was a dark green 1969 Super Bee that parked in a driveway at 21st and Hampshire streets. I was living down the block in an old bar at 21st and Harrison, and drove by this beastly Bee every day in my ’69 Dart GT convertible. I had yet to discover much about Mopars but I knew this car had to be something special as it inspired endless mechanical lust in me.
The Bee sat on Magnum 500 rims with raised white letter tires; it had chrome exhaust tips and two badass hood scoops that looked like they actually did something. The scoops had a small chrome “383” call-out on the side and I knew for sure that had to mean something special––after all, that was over 100 more cubic inches than my Dart was packing. It also had that crazy tail stripe with the nutty bee inside the circle of psychedelic letters that said “Super Bee”. We’re talking full package.
One day, it was gone. I wondered if it had been sold or if the owner had moved away. Then, like a ghost it reappeared––except it was a very loud and very fast ghost. I think I was at Wolfe’s Lunch, (one of the last surviving railroad cafes in SFCA) at the bottom of Potrero Hill when I heard the screech of rubber that twisted my neck. I managed to catch a glimpse of green tail flicking around a corner, then out of sight, nothing more. I went back to my sandwich and forgot about it until I heard it again and looked up in time to see it fly by on 16th street, wide open, with a long hair at the wheel. I figured some hesher had gotten ahold of it and it wouldn’t be long before it was wrapped around a phone pole somewhere in the Mission District. Oh well, that’s how all the orange ones had wound up and now this old green survivor would too.
Some time later I was lurking around one of the infamous Sunday hot rod and hot dog gatherings behind the Best Foods Mayonnaise factory on Mariposa Street. I had just met some fellow Mopar owners who were about to become my first customers and soon after that, my good friends. While we were bullshitting, a total rocker walked up on us. He was clowning big time, long hair, tattoos, Ray Bans, checkered Vans slip ons; he looked like a cross between Jeff Spicolli and Iggy Pop. He started talking trash on the hotrodder rock-a-billy guys and then dropped his pants to prove he was serious, all the while crowing about how “my Super Bee can kick all y’all's asses”. I had just met Russell Wright, the year was 1994 and he had just bought the Bee off of a woman named “Hot Rod Mary”.
Over the next few years I saw Russ occasionally, wearing devil horns and shredding the guitar in his band The Demonics or roaring around in his Bee. I even got to work on it a few times and once I had the pleasure of making one of my earliest and biggest mistakes on the holy Bee. Russell, always after horsepower, had bought a 750 Holley and hired me to install it. I popped it onto the 383 cast iron manifold and immediately noticed we were in trouble –– the choke housing was in the way on the secondary side. It was only by a little bit so I thought we’d kiss it with the grinder and I went right into the exhaust passage, trashing the manifold. We remained friends and when the job was finally done we went for a ride with the exhaust cut outs open, scaring the crap out of the dot com boom citizenry and getting nasty looks.