At what point do you just throw up your hands and give up on an old car?
If you’re John Hofmann and that car is a Light Green Metallic 1969 Dodge Super Bee that you’ve been doting on and pampering since the early 1970s, the correct answer is “never.”
This Super Bee is the subject of the Restoration Profile in the October issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines (on sale August 28, sporting an all-new design) and its owner’s story is one of never giving up on what you want.
John first spotted this 383-powered, four-speed Super Bee when it was nearly new, being driven around his hometown in Maryland by a young woman, usually with her baby riding shotgun in a car seat. One night in 1973, after dropping off his date, John—a college student at the time—spotted the Super Bee on the side of the road, with a “For Sale” sign in the window.
He stopped, had a discussion with the seller (the husband of the young woman he’d seen driving it), then quickly agreed to buy the Super Bee. Though John knew scraping up the $1,200 asking price and convincing his father that this was a good idea, would be, uh, complicated.
John persisted and made the deal but, there was another problem… insurance. John’s Dad was paying the bill and wasn’t willing to shell out one dime more to insure the Super Bee than he was paying to insure John’s previous driver: a 1968 Plymouth Belvedere four-door. So, John did what any teenager desperate to own a hot car would do… he lied.
“I impersonated my father on the phone with the insurance agent asking for a quote, telling him that it was a ’69 Coronet with a stick shift,” John said. “I was able to get a quote that was almost the same as my dad was already paying. At one point the insurance agent said, ‘Mr. Hofmann you have a very youthful voice.’ I told him, ‘Everyone tells me that’ and kept on with the request for a quote. I think the insurance agent knew it wasn’t my father on the phone, but he had mercy on me.”
John drove his Bee carefully and took obsessively good care of it: washing, waxing, oil changing, and in general hovering over it. Unfortunately, he couldn’t watch the car all the time and a year after he bought the Bee, it was stolen. The good news is, he got it back undamaged, the bad news? A year later thieves nabbed the car again and led police on a high-speed chase. Remarkably the car survived.
In 1977, John parked his Bee but refused to sell it. He kept the car, hauling it with him during moves to five different homes for more than 30 years. Finally in 2014, he turned it over to Jamie Cooper and Joe Griffith at Super Car Restoration in Clymer, Pennsylvania. The extensive restoration project took two years and the car looks amazing today. John, as you can imagine, after 45 years of ownership couldn’t be prouder.
“I’ve never grown tired of this car—it was part of the heart and soul of my youth,” he said. “It took so much effort and angst to get it, that I never wanted to beat it or do anything to injure it. Today, it looks, accelerates, drives, and handles better than new.”
For the full story and photos, check out the October issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines.